Rochester, NY USA



We see ads every day. Most of these ads are focused on a specific product or service that requires an image or a bunch of images to drive sales. You may not know this, but some of that imagery may not be actual photographs… What??? They may be 3D modeled products that look like the real thing. Why would anyone want a fake image over a real one? It sounds like some crazy deep fake merchandising going on. In fact, you probably see rendered ads all the time and don’t even know it. Lets find out why anyone would think this is a good idea…

Creating imagery for a product has been around for a long time. Before photography was used, people used hand drawn or hand carved wood negatives for a printing press. We’ve come a long way! Once photography came on the scene, everything changed. Ads became more creative and alluring. In this day in age, with computer technology, we can go beyond just a digital photo and some savvy photoshop skills.

So, why don’t we see more of this 3D working for ads? The fact you don’t notice is a good sign you’ve been fooled. However, there is a large amount of work being done with a camera and some touch up software. So, lets get to the point… why 3D? I’ll keep it simple for this article…

Lets say for a moment you’re planning a photoshoot for a new slew of soft drinks. You’ve got all sorts of fancy rigs to capture a can splashing into a cooler full of ice. It looks so refreshing while it splashes water everywhere. You’ve spent a couple days getting every detail you can. You’re ready to send the photos to get touched up and you get the call… the customer wants to change the labeling. “Nooooo!” What can you do? Now, you have to go back and re shoot everything all over again. This is where 3D shines!

So, you get the call that the customer has changed labeling for all the soft drinks you just modeled, Textured, and rendered. In this situation, you already have your shots setup. Just swap out the UV mapped labels and re render. No more days of re shoots or being over budget.  

This is from my Mirabelle des Vosges project
The final render for the Mirabelle des Vosges project

When building your scenes, you still have to setup lighting like you would for a real photoshoot. You’ll use an HDRI (High Dynamic Range Image) to simulate the room, world, and natural lighting. You still use black cards for absorbing light and reflectors to bounce light. All your photography rules still apply. But once you have your scene built, you can reuse it over and over. No more setting up heavy lights and backdrops. It’s all lightweight for you so you can leave the heavy lifting to your computer. The list of positives just keeps coming. But I’ll spare you from that.

So, in review, 3D product rendering really can save the day and save your customer’s pocketbook. There’s always a place for product photography. Not all situations warrant a 3D object instead of a real one. But lets keep 3D in the back of your mind the next time your customer wants to show off their newest product or services, okay?


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