As a computer artist, I have always been fascinated by making what I see in my imagination real for the viewer. Earlier in my career I achieved this through painting, airbrush, and finally digital programs such as Photoshop. As technology has changed, it has opened up the ability to incorporate motion as well. With the emergence of 3D animation, I can now create just about anything I can imagine for myself and our clients.
The medium can create amazing training and selling opportunities. If you're not familiar with the different types of 3D animation, see my first post of the series, 3 Types of 3D Animation. Today, I'll explain why 3D animation is such a great training and selling tool and share examples of how 3D video, interactive 3D, and virtual reality 3D are used for training and selling.
Well-crafted 3D animation can take a complicated concept, product, or process and make it easy to understand. It can deconstruct, highlight, slow down, speed up, and pause the visuals to make sure a concept is clear. 3D elevates content in a more sophisticated way than photography is capable of.
What I've noticed when talking with our partners before a project starts is that many don't know when to use 3D–some jump to 3D too fast and others are reluctant to go there–or what kind of 3D is best for their particular need, time, scope, and budget.
How is 3D used in training and selling?
This is the most accessible format of 3D animation and can be used in a variety of ways for training and selling–on its own, in an app, as part of a motion graphics video. Watching the video is an effective option for learning new material, and your learners can pause the videos at any time so they can stop and absorb the information, take a learning check, or start over if they need more time with the material.
3D video becomes more versatile and can be implemented into an interactive piece. This can be done by taking the sequence of images (usually a PNG sequence) and importing them into the native code in order to create a slider or drag/zoom interaction. This gives the user the illusion of interactive 3D at a fraction of the cost compared to using a gaming engine like Unity or Unreal.
3D video is best used for:
- New product launches, especially those to hype up your sales force (see our project with Stryker Surfaces as an example).
- Explaining complex products in detail, highlighting a unique process or showing an "under the hood" view.
- A "wow piece" to use in front of potential clients and make the product differentiators extremely clear.
First-person interactivity is what makes interactive 3D such a game changer in the training space. It puts the learner in the driver's seat, allowing them to personalize the pace of the learning experience. When I think about using interactive 3D for training or selling, I automatically think about "tours."
A tour could be of a new product that the learner is getting to know or selling to a client, or it could be of a physical space (warehouse, retail store, etc.) that the learner's job takes place in. The virtual environment is open and available for the learner to explore as they wish, at their pace.
Interactive 3D is best used for:
- Environment simulations–take the learner into the environment where they will be performing tasks, let them walk around, interact, etc.
- Product simulations–perform a task with the product.
- Detailed product animations that let the user manipulate the view however they please.
Virtual Reality 3D
There is huge potential for training and selling with virtual reality. While minimal progress has been made so far, it's easy to see the tremendous effects it will have in the future.
For training, we are always trying to make the learning environment as close to the real deal as possible. Can you imagine fixing a car and getting assistance step by step from your glasses?
Learners in all industries, ranging from mechanics to surgeons, are already starting benefit from virtual reality. The military has been actively exploring the use of virtual reality in training for years now, using it for everything from flight simulations to battlefield simulations and medical training.
At this point, it's limited only by the advancement of hardware and software and the creators' imaginations.
Virtual reality 3D is best used for:
- Detailed and action oriented simulations (see an example from Motion Reality, who helps train the military)
- Complex informational training for industries including medical, mechanical, and more. Think of medical sales reps (see HoloLens educational example).
- Training customers on how to use your product. We helped Schlage create 3D video animations to help people learn how to rekey a lock; imagine if those learners could interact with the lock instead.
You can see that the possibilities for all types of 3D animation are endless. And as much as we love 3D animations, we encourage our clients to explore other options before jumping straight to this solution. Over the years, it's become clear to us what makes a good candidate for 3D and what doesn't. When it is used for the wrong reasons, it isn't necessarily bad, but it just might not be the best use of time and budget. When 3D is used for the right reasons, the return is tremendous.
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