We all know that the smart phone is quickly becoming the new television. But what does it mean for designers who create content?This post is specifically for 3D designers and how they can leverage the new digital and social media platforms to showcase their content.If you're learning 3D design and are wondering how you can transition from traditional ways to output your images to the new emerging platforms , this post is designed for you. And it's very simple. You only need two things:
-An understanding of the platform
-The platform's preferred content format and ratio.
Traditionally, your images and videos have been used for mediums like print (magazines, boards, marketing assets etc...) and presentation mediums (PowerPoint, in design etc...). These are still relevant, but what is more relevant today are the new ways people consume content. You only need to look around and see how many people are looking down on their smart phone. This is where your images, renders and other digitally generated content need to exist in order to be seen by more people, regardless if you produce solo or in a corporate environment. This is both good news and bad news. The good news is that since smartphones are small, you won't need to generate incredibly large images anymore. The bad news is, all major online platforms have an optimal and preferred format. So when generating images for each platform, you will have to consider crop, angle, focus, mood, intent etc... much more often. Below are the list of the current major platforms for that can be leveraged by 3D designers. We will go through them one by one and discuss how to generate imagery for each, and their optimal formats.
- Linked in
In order for this exercise to make sense and be useful, let's imagine a typical 3D project. Let's say that the task at hand is to showcase the look of an upcoming block of houses in a given London neighbourhood, on a road called Lavender Gardens, and we need to create marketing imagery to entice buyers to purchase a house here. The main feature space of these new houses is the open plan living and dinning area, with plenty of daylight, a nice feature staircase leading up to the bedrooms and a view through to the garden. The marketing company has decided to feature these marketing images on all main social media platforms to target their ideal customers.
Before we begin, it’s important to highlight that producing content for online digital platforms require a different mindset to what you may already be used to. On these platforms, the important thing isn’t necessarily to create a good image. The important thing is to be engaging and timely. If you find yourself engaging in this type of work and the recipient or client doesn’t understand what you are planning on doing, here are the key activities and points that need to be understood in this social environment.
-Repurposing your content.
-Creating multiple images from one scene.
-Find different points of interest in your scene and focus on those.
-Create new camera angles.
-Use colour grading and filters to enhance the look of your images.
-Add text overlays on the more informative shots
We’ll cover all of these in our example. So, with all that said, let's begin.
Once you have your 3D project nearly completed it's time to think about these platforms and what type of imagery you need for each. Let's start with Facebook.
Facebook is the mother of all social platform. It’s where everyone hangs out and it also has all demographics in one place. You can target anyone you like from teenagers to grandmothers.
The native Facebook size ratio for posts is 1200px x 628px
For our little project, we’ll do a Facebook post of our house by creating an overview shot. Since Facebook’s demographic is very wide, we want to encourage viewers to share it, so it’s important that they see the whole space. We’ll create a slightly angled look, mainly looking towards the painting on the wall, but also catch a glimpse of the staircase and window. The image will also have a slightly cold colour grading.
Instagram is probably the hottest platform currently. It’s known for its square format content. You can engineer your images to change their format before you post on Instagram but the majority of the audience expect and usually respond better to square content.
The ideal size and ratio for Instagram content is 1080px x 1080px.
Instagram started as a photographers and wannabe photographer platform. So you can imagine the king of shot we will need for our project. Artsy, colour graded, symmetry or asymetry and well thought out composition. The traditional Instagram medium would be the glossy magazine's double spread.For our little example project, since this platform is kind of artsy, we'll make the big painting on the wall our focus point. Every thing else will be slightly out of focus. For this we can place the camera near the back wall, looking out the window towards the big sofa, catching a glimpse of the counter and flower pot, with the middle of the room i.e painting, sofa and coffee table in focus. We’ll also colour grade this shot a lot more than our Facebook image to give it an ‘Insta’ look. (You can obviously colour grade your image in the app before posting, but since this is just an example we’ll content ourselves with a lookalike.)
The best way to understand Pinterest is to imagine a college student's locker, or someone's vision board where they pin up everything the want to be, do or have. Pinterest is the vision board platform.
The native Pinterest content size and ratio is 600px x 900px.
One interesting current fact about Pinterest is that it has an incredibly large female audience, though men are catching up quite quickly. Another interesting fact is that as as result of some research on Pinterest ‘pins’ interaction, it was found that images with red in them get more engagement from audiences.We'll produce our Pinterest image for this example with the above two facts in mind. Firstly, as it will probably be seen by more women than men, the focus of the image should be something that most women could be drawn to or are known to like. For this shot we'll focus nicely on red the flower pot on the counter, highlighting the red and complementary green leaves of the plants. The rest of the image will be heavily blurred. Since Pinterest about vision, it would be nice to add that 'vision' or ‘dream’ touch to our image. We'll add a what is known as a 'bokeh' effect in the defocussed area of our image. This effect heavily blurs out the bright spots in the image to give it a dreamy look. Also notice the text overlay on this image. Text overlays tend to perform well on pinterest.
Twitter is the water cooler of society. It’s where people gather to have conversations about anything and everything.
It’s preferred content size and ration is 1024px x 512px
For our composition, we’ll create a shot that is mostly empty in the foreground in order for our image to feel inviting, and hopefully spark a conversation.
The image treatment here will the same as for our Facebook image, slightly graded and simple.
5. Linked in
Linked in is the professional platform. It’s where professionals connect and talk about industry news, jobs etc…
The ideal content format for Linked in is 700px x 400px
For our composition, we’ll go for a more editorial look. Focussing on the book on the coffee table. This image won’t give too much context. We are mainly trying to spark the interest of young professionals with an eye for design. The background will be slightly blurred and we’ll crop in tightly on the book and coffee table. This image basically says ‘This is where you would be having conversations about interesting things if you buy this house.’
6. Snapchat (Geofilters)
This platform is very young but very interesting. Travellers use is a lot too, which is why it’s Geo filters are very interesting.
The native size for Snapchat content is 1080px x 1920px
With Snapchat, once you've taken your picture you have a choice of multiple Geofilters that you can add on top of your images. These are time, location, temperature etc… but more interestingly, Snapchat now allows you to create custom Geofilters based on location. So this would be great for our little project. we’ll create a Geofilter for the house so that when someone takes a picture near our house location , they have the option to add our filters showing that the house is for sale.
So there it is. Understanding why, what where and when to create content for each of these platforms is key to gaining exposure today.
You may have heard it said about social media content creators and digital designers but it is as true for them as it is for 3D designers.