CGI to Metaverse Ready Content in 6 Simple Steps
2021 was all about the Metaverse. And if you are still feeling confused about what it actually is, you’re not alone. Let’s try and figure it out together. In this blog, we'll attempt to demystify the Metaverse and outline how you can get from CGI to ‘Metaverse Ready’ in 6 simple steps.
First of all, the Metaverse doesn’t exist yet. Yes, that's right, it hasn’t been built yet.
In the simplest of terms the Metaverse promises to become an immersive three dimensional version of the internet where we will work, play, shop and socialise in virtual worlds. These virtual worlds will also spill out into the real world as virtual overlays.
This is not a new concept at all. But in 2021 the Metaverse gained critical mass due to a ‘goldilocks' moment of social change and rapid advances in technology.
First there was the big bad ‘C’ getting us all stuck at home and brands not able to sell anything in the ‘brick-and-mortar-verse’. Without in-person retail experiences, brands needed to offer more engaging experiences to stand out, the pandemic made more businesses realise the need to diversify and this has accelerated technology adoption and digital transformation in both retail and commerce. Companies sitting on years of innovation saw fresh investment. Apple and Google pretty much made AR tech part of their phones and Facebook made VR affordable with the Oculus Quest. All this was compounded by marketers' desire to stand out in the noisy world of the good old 2D internet offering more engagement to customers with fresh new content and experiences.
The 1990’s saw cyberspace, the 2000’s virtual reality and now the Metaverse as a concept of closed digital worlds has gained momentum, with big tech companies making bold bets on this future vision of the internet.
Did you know that the Metaverse was based on the dystopian novel ‘Snow Crash’ by Neal Stephenson written back in 1992. He built a fictional world whereby people could enter it using VR glasses as a virtual ‘avatar’ of themselves. The rest is history:
Facebook became Meta and presented us with a vision of cartoonish avatars flying through a 3D version of Facebook. Microsoft quickly dressed the avatars in suits and made it about the ‘corporate Metaverse’.
Epic Games had already established what a Metaverse economy might look like in their game Fortnite with virtual currency and pretty digital stuff you can buy to make your avatar look cool. Our kids played Roblox and brands jumped in selling new digital products on the platform. Nvidia took a more serious approach with its Omniverse allowing creators to collaborate on anything from product design to large film productions in a seamless, connected 3D production environment.
Then there were the Augmented Reality champions. Niantic launched their location based AR platform paving the way for a persistent digital layer on top of our daily reality. Snap Inc. made AR ‘lenses’ part of daily lives and now also pushing into commerce. Whilst Microsoft focused on corporate and commercial AR with Hololens. And finally Apple mysteriously rumored consumer Apple AR glasses, only to keep shifting the release date to ‘sometime in the future’. But a future that is certain nevertheless.
Meanwhile speakers across the open-source community and proponents of de-centralisation pondered the ‘open’ metaverse - free of tech giants’ domination. Talk of NFTs and Web3 intensified just to make things even more confusing. It's easy to get lost in all this techno babble.
Yet all of them are betting on the Metaverse. Whatever that might end up being, it is coming to a VR or AR headset near you soon. For the time being maybe just on a computer or mobile phone screen.
Some see the Metaverse as a dystopian nightmare while others see magical potential. Time will tell. I always advise any Metaverse beginners to watch Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One”. It offers both warning and hope.
At Creative Content Works we are rather more practical about it all. We see the potential and are actually quite excited about the Metaverse - an exciting new medium.
In fact, we’ve been working inside our own mini Metaverse for the last 11 years.
Let us explain.
We are experts in producing images and video in CGI. Those images and videos are simply pictures and videos taken with a virtual camera from virtual sets and products we lovingly build to help our clients tell stories across all marketing channels. Online, in-store, print - and soon the metaverse.
The very same raw materials that are needed for the Metaverse are used daily by our talented teams to produce CG imagery that rivals, if not surpasses ‘real’ photography. In fact, the usual response we get is: “I can’t believe it’s not real’.
What are these ingredients you ask? Whether you are building your future Metaverse showroom, advertising key visuals or great CGI lifestyle images you need good 3D models of your products. You also need good-looking architectural spaces, some well-styled props all in digital 3D form assembled by a team of experts. And yes we have been doing that (and more) for the last 11 years.
This is why we are excited about the Metaverse. More than excited in fact because the very same 3D content that powers our CGI sets can smoothly be transitioned into content that powers all sorts of Metaverse applications. Content that sits across Beauty, Fashion, Drinks and FMCG. Even before the Metaverse is fully here.
CGI to Metaverse Ready in 6 Simple Steps
So, are you still with me? If you’re shaking your head and still are confused - then bear with me just a bit longer.
Let me try and break it down into 6 simple steps:
STEP 1 - DIGITAL TWINS OF YOUR PRODUCTS
We build accurate 3D models, or ‘digital twins’ of your products. For this we use some really amazing tech and craft that re-creates objects digitally in full three dimensional detail with all material properties translated from the real world. We go a stage further with all artwork seamlessly replicated in the digital twin.
STEP 2 - LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
We take those models and place them in virtual lifestyle sets or creative environments which we also build digitally in 3D, place cameras and lights like photographers but virtually and ‘render’ some great looking still and moving shots indistinguishable from ‘real’ photography and video to cover all your visual marketing content needs - from online to print.
STEP 3 - CONTENT AT SPEED AND SCALE
We have much more freedom in the digital realm, so much so that we can create image and video content for any style option, colour, flavour variety and any combination of products at lightning-fast speed, helping you offer choice and engagement that’s simply not possible with traditional methods. This is all possible from that same digital twin that we made in step one using some clever “behind the scenes” automated tech.
STEP 4 - IMPROVE CX USING IMMERSIVE CONTENT + CONFIGURATORS
Then we can take all those colour, size, and product options and plug them into an engaging, interactive product configurator too. Giving customers choice on devices they are familiar with. They can be simple websites for building a bed or an all-singing-all-dancing immersive kitchen configurator. We can even use them to create fully automated marketing collateral. We have found that customers love the choice and personalisation that this sort of tech offers. Let’s not forget we are again using the same digital twins we made earlier.
STEP 5 - TEST IT. TRY IT. BUY IT.
When you’re ready we can easily make those same digital twins Augmented Reality (AR) ready so that customers can view your product in their space. Directly from the eCommerce storefront - onto their mobile phones - and into their rooms, or even on their feet or faces and bodies. Look at Amazon now… they’re doing it already! Remember Apple and Google earlier - they made that possible for us by putting the tech in every new phone. And more and more people are discovering, using and loving AR. Before you know it - consumers won’t be able to live without it.
STEP 6 - METAVERSE READY CONTENT
Then one day you decide you want to enter the mythical Metaverse. Well it is digital and it is 3D. And that’s what the digital twins of your product are - they are digital and they are 3D. So, if you choose to take advantage of CGI - you’re already well positioned and prepared - all you’ve got to do is get that same content into the Metaverse.
Whatever form the Metaverse might take, it will definitely be digital and 3D. So, if you adopt CGI then you won’t have to start from scratch. With CGI you can get an infinite number of content outputs that are versatile enough to use across any channel within your omnichannel marketing strategy: online, print, in-store, mobile and soon the Metaverse.
We’ve coined this Metaverse Ready Content. You heard it here first.
Digital Transformation is Inevitable
Just as brick-and-mortar stores slowly moved to the web browser, and the web slowly moved from computer screens to mobile phones, sooner or later, the web will gradually move to smart AR glasses and VR headsets …and yes the Metaverse. Likewise, just as eCommerce sites needed more rich media (quality photography, lifestyle and 360 videos), so will the Metaverse need more 3D content.
Don’t get me wrong, it won’t happen overnight. Just as TV didn’t replace the radio, the Metaverse won’t replace what came before it. The Metaverse will become another channel in which to have a brand presence and market your wares. So, all your rich media in the form of high-quality modelling, product imagery and videos will still have their place alongside the shiny new AR and VR experiences.
Future-Proof your Content
How do Creative Content Works fit in?
We are experts in producing hyper-realistic CG imagery and interactive content for retailers, brands and manufacturers. In a nutshell, we can help you create digital twins of all your products to use across all your marketing channels - saving time, money and the environment. Ready for the next stage of Digital Transformation, whatever the future holds.
“Retail Futures” Series
In the coming weeks we will dive a bit deeper into all things Metaverse - from good old fashioned CGI, photogrammetry to automating image and video production, to AR and VR. We will explain what a digital twin or 3D model is, how it is made and how it is used. We will talk to you about the practical, real-world approaches to producing high quality visual content for a fast moving digital world.
Fear not. We’ve got you covered inside and outside the Metaverse. Whatever that might be.
ABOUT CREATIVE CONTENT WORKS
Creative Content Works, formerly Visual Method, is a full-service content production studio based in Manchester, London & Sofia. We're a team of 96 creative agency, production and technical experts specialising in photorealistic CGI, VFX and strategic content for some of the largest retail and consumer brands in the UK.
We have a simple philosophy… produce great content, at speed and scale, delivered by experts. We're a passionate team of creative thinkers and tech innovators. We build powerful partnerships with brands, solving creative challenges for a digital future.
If you can imagine it, we can make it!