24/09/2019No Comments

4 Questions // A brief insight into Dean and Punch Digital

I got asked these 4 questions below, and they really made me think about different aspects of myself and how I got to where I am with Punch Digital. So delve into my background, what makes me tick, and why I decided to try and make an impact in the creative CGI industry....

 

What do you do?

I run Punch Digital, a small, but very capable CGI studio, which I’m very proud to be the front of.

Personally, I’m hands on with projects, clients and R&D, but as the business grows I want to hand some of these tasks to trusted employees and partners, under my direction of course!

My background is in creating marketing CGI illustrations, working for other firms, before setting up Punch Digital in 2012. 

Who do you help?

Past clients include the likes of o2, Belling and Ford, and we’re just as comfortable working with small, local firms too.

Punch Digital / myself will work with a wide range of people and business, and have no real “ideal client”. Some of the most exciting and interesting projects have come from the most unusual clients!

On a personal level, I want to help folk break into the CGI industry. I feel people can be unprepared when it comes to landing their first job. The way I’m kicking this off is through a LinkedIn group - Helping folk break into the creative CGI industries, where I aim to offer advice, help and support to anyone who needs it!

What pain do you solve?

CGI imagery, animations and interactive apps are a great way to help folk visualise products, architecture and anything else. 

The biggest pain we solve is to remove limitations. 

Room sets aren’t restricted to studio walls; kitchens can be visualised in any interior imaginable.

Products don’t have to be manufactured, they can be illustrated from sketches and ideas, perfect for gauging interest, or even marketing for sales, before the expense of manufacturing.

Individual product variation can be shown, without the need to build and photograph each combination, through an interactive configurator. No more swatches or sample pots!

Ultimately, I want to make CGI marketing imagery as easy and as accessible as possible for anyone who sells a product, property or anything else!

Why do you do what you do?

I’ve always been a keen artist, even as little boy doodling in make-shift art folders. I must admit my fine art skills won’t win any awards, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed and pursued right up to Art A-Level.

I’m also great with numbers, figures and problem solving. Again A-Levels in maths and business studies helped build this passion.

Luckily, CGI imagery is a combination of artist flare, and technical ability. Figuring a small technical issue can almost be just as rewarding as building a beautiful illustration. 

I believe what I and Punch Digital does is purposeful, helpful and adds value for our clients, helping them to market and sell their thing.

There’s no greater high than receiving an email or phone call from a client, thanking us for our hard work and success on their project. 

I also love the constant evolution of CGI imagery. The CGI industry doesn’t stand still, advances in tech often push expectations to produce higher quality, speed and frequency of work, which is fine and part of the exciting challenges.

There are also amazing opportunities to explore and expand into new areas, such as virtual reality or augmented reality, with the aim of making this tech available, accessible and useful to clients, which is often the biggest, but very rewarding!

Ultimately I just love the mix of creativity, technical and innovative aspects of the creative CGI industry!

(Plus it’s less messier than being a plumber (sorry dad)!!)

 

Dean

02/07/2019No Comments

AR is dead, long live AR!

Augmented Reality is Dead?!

 

OK let me explain. AR definitely isn't dead, but a shift is occurring, and this is my prediction -

"AR over the next 12 months, augmented reality will become more commonplace, useful and integrated into our everyday lives than ever before."

 

Augmented Reality (AR) is a medium / platform allow people to superimpose digital content into the real world. You might be familiar with the concept. Snapchat Lenses are a fun way to add bunny ears, face swap or create interesting selfies.

Or maybe you've delved a little deeper and seen how you can view a piece of virtual furniture into your room. Check out the Ikea Place app for a great example of this.

Image Credit Facebook

Essentially anything that let's you see digital content overlaid or integrated into the real world can be defined as augmented reality.

The Shift in AR

AR has been around to years, we tested and played with this back in 2012, and then the hype died down. At that time it felt like a gimmick, and I don't do gimmicks!

In recent years, AR started to emerge once again, mainly down to the advances in tech (smart phones, Android ARCore, Apple AR Kit), which lead to fun apps, such as SnapChat.

Most of the apps have been for entertainment, and really served little other purpose.

But that will change. And it could be driven by Facebook of all people. Facebook launched Spark AR Studio, a way for developers to create augmented reality apps to feature in Facebook and Instagram.

Spark AR Studio Augmented Reality Facebook Instagram

Currently, most of the AR content on Spark AR Studio is "entertainment" based. People are experimenting, testing and having fun.

But what will be interesting is when we see Facebook start to monetise its platform and users. I predict that Facebook will create a centralised AR platform, not only for "funky selfies", but also for business, brands and products.

I mentioned earlier that Ikea have the Place app, where you can preview furniture within a real world. Well others are at it too, such as Wayfair and Amazon

And it's my prediction that Facebook will create something like Wayfair and Amazon , but 1000x greater!

Wayfair and Ikea are all very much self centred, they serve themselves, you can't "shop around". And I can't blame them, why should they.

Amazon and Facebook are potentially very different. These both aren't self centred, they can offer the users anything. So imagine an AR marketplace where you can browse 1000s of items, no matter who produces it.

And don't think AR is just for furniture either. Fashion, art, accessories, paint, hair styles and almost anything else could take advantage of AR.

And then there's the opportunity for augmented reality to do a full circle, and use AR for entertainment, promotion, brand awareness and just good old fun.

Facebook / Instagram is going to be the place to be. If they get it right, they'll be to go-to app for AR, and everyone will want to be on it. Think of it like a business not wanting to be on Google, it just wouldn't happen!

 

"I believe augmented reality is a huge opportunity for forward thinking retailers to promote their products and brands. The attention will be undervalued to begin with, but trust me, that won't last too long."

 

So what does this have to do with Punch Digital? Well moving forward, we will be developing augmented reality content on the Spark AR platform. It'll be business like ourselves that will give businesses, brands and products a way to get their content easily onto these platforms, so we're keen to show how this is possible!

Keep your eyes peeled for augmented reality updates!

And if you have an idea, concept or would simply like to know more about augmented reality, then get in touch!

Thanks,
Dean

23/05/2019No Comments

Burger King’s Disruptive Augmented Reality Marketing

Burger King's Disruptive Augmented Reality Marketing

Augmented reality is slowly, but very effectively, being using in marketing campaigns all around the world.

We love augmented reality, and truly believe it's going to be a massive medium in the not so distant future.

One recent campaign for Burger King Brazil, involves users "burning" competitors adverts, for which they are rewarded with a free Whopper.

Now when we say "burning" we don't mean that folk are literally committing arson, rather they're using a very clever augmented reality app to make it appear that McDonalds, Subway, or another competitors printed advert is on fire.  Once the advert has been burnt to ashes, the user then see's the Burger King advert and receives a free burger. Burger King use geofencing to place this offer near its rival compeitors.

For those who don't know, augmented reality (often called AR or mixed reality), is where digital content is displayed into the real world. For example you could augment a piece of furniture into a room to see how it fits, or perhaps you want to see how a new pair of trainers would look on yourself without visiting a store.

There are no limits as to what you can digitally show, and with the Burger King campaign by David SP, the app cleverly recognises a competitors advert, which the triggers the burning and reward.

The social and psychological reasons behind the campaign are perhaps too complex for me to fully understand, perhaps it's literally "let's burn our competitors into oblivion" or maybe it's a spin on Burger Kings "flame grilled" style.

One thing I do know is that the campaign will folk downloading the app, and engaging with the real world, for real rewards.

Augmented reality has the scale and flexibility to transform how people engage with brands, stores and businesses. Instead of burning an advert, imagine if your customers could hold their phone up to an advert, and they're instantly given information on store locations, opening hours, or even exclusive discounts.

Or how about your customer sees an advert for a new piece of furniture, and by using augmented reality, they can see, rotate and maybe even order the piece of furniture straight from an app. Check out our Punch Infifty Range of examples on what we can do.

Augment reality for marketing is just arriving, and I think we're only seeing a glimpse of what it's capable of!

We will be putting together some concepts and ideas for how augmented reality could be used. If you'd like to know more or would like to discuss some ideas then get in touch.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter or follow us in Instagram too for future updates!

Dean

13/07/2016No Comments

You’ve Been Tango’d! Google Tango that is! Google’s Augmented Reality

Google Tango Augmented Reality is another leap for new tech, and it's pretty exciting!

I love this industry, and Google's new augmented reality (AR) makes us very excited! Why though? Augmented reality is when a virtual image, text data, etc is overlaid into the real world. The easiest way to do this is to point your smart phone at a tracker (a unique image), and your phone recognises this tracker and overlays the virtual image into the real world on the screen of your phone. Ikea did this very sucessfully with their app, check it out here http://www.gizmag.com/ikea-augmented-reality-catalog-app/28703/

The only problem with this method of AR is that the camera on your device needs to see a tracking image (like the Ikea catalogue). Google Tango doesn't! Now that's impressive!

How it does it is probably something very technical, and I assume it uses some kind of 3D scanning to gauge depth and distance, but developing hardware isn't our thing, so I'm only guessing. What I do know is that this is a real game changer for AR. By removing the need for tracking images means we could, in theory, overlay virtual worlds into the real world much much easier. It's also interesting to read that Tango can also measure. Imagine if we take the Ikea concept, but say develop a feature where a user holds their Tango device at a room, and the app then selects tables which would fit in the space. There'd be no need for that tedious process of measuring a space, reading the dimensions in a catalogue, and then hoping it all fits OK!

Google Tango AR Augmented Reality 3D CGI

Augmented reality has huge potential in education and marketing. The need to engage and excite people is very important and AR can help. It can make seemingly dull experiences very exciting. Take kids to a museum and they'll probably look forward to their pack lunch and gift shop, but if you make the experience exciting and engaging they'll probably forget all about their cheese sandwiches! In Google's promo video the kids visit a museum, and use Google Tango AR to see a T-Rex come to life, and also display further info for them to read and learn. This may not engage or excite a group of OAPs, but the beauty of digital content is that each AR experience can be tailored different users.

Google Tango AR Augmented Reality 3D CGI

If we look at the area we primarily work in, marketing architecture and products, augmented reality could really be a great tool to use. Imagine walking around a house or residential development with a Google Tango style app. Whilst the parents are using it to learn about the boring stuff like energy efficiency, crime rates, or even the choice of carpet colours, and the kids could see where their new school could be, learn about local clubs and groups, or how high the new swing goes in the near by park!

Google Tango is a very interesting development, and we'll be watching it very closely. There's only one device at the moment that's Tango enabled, and that's the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, but I'm sure more will follow very soon. Imagine the Samsung GearVR with Google Tango, my mind's already blown!

Dean

02/11/2015No Comments

Augmented / Virtual Reality Command Centre Concept

New tech excites me, and this augmented / virtual reality project created for BAE Systems is something I'm massively impressed with. In an episode of Click, a BBC tech based show, they look at how augmented and virtual reality work in partnership to give the user a huge amount of control by immersing the user into a virtual world.

The video can be watched on the iplayer here -

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06bbm1g/click-05092015

The command centre uses a mix of new technology, with perhaps the most recognisable tech being the Oculus Rift (the large head set), but the command centre also takes advantage of gloves, cameras, and other interfaces to allow the users to view, control and interact with the virtual world.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

Mixing virtual reality with augmented reality has been used to great effect, in this case the wooden table is used not only to project the virtual world onto, but also to give the user something real to touch. I imagine it's also very useful for resting the users hands, as hovering in mid-air can soon become quite tiring.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

The augmented virtual world is mainly projected onto the table, however other 3D objects are visible away from the table, such as the fighter jet, and the personal assistant.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

The software developed for the command centre is perhaps the most impressive part of the project, and gives us a brief look into what's possible. In this demo the user can quickly see live video from the real world scene, but the view could view anything they need, from drawings, to written reports.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

The video also glimpses at another peice of tech which I love, and that's 3D scanning. In the video the command centre can see real-time updates from 3D scanned data. Presumably the area is scanned with a drone, and the point cloud data transmitted back to the virtual world.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

If you're interested in this kind of tech, watch the video, it's seriously impressive stuff! I can't wait until this kind of project becomes mainstream, and eventually the norm, until then I'll just have to keep tinkering and experimenting with my own virtual worlds!

Dean

 

27/07/2012No Comments

Augmented Reality Testing & Development

During non-project time, I like to get stuck into some to something further my skills, improve my portfolio,  or sometimes to do something different. Recently I have been pondering the use of augmented reality applications.

I have always had an interest in real-time applications, mainly architectural walk-throughs or gaming, but augmented reality feels more exciting and more engaging than walk-thoughs. The idea that you can hold something digital in your hand, or view the world around us differently to what is perceived by our eyes, is a very strange concept. It's also something very hard to explain unless you can show someone, but I guess this is the same for 99% of new technology.

The other reason why I'm taking an interest to augmented reality is the craze with "3D" TVs and films. "3D" TV isn't really 3D, it's just some added effects to try to trick our brains into adding depth to what we are seeing, and to be honest, I think it ruins good films, and is a gimmick to sell bad films.

Augmented 3D, or even 2D, is different, and allows the user to see the content how ever they wish (to an extent). This for me is 3D, and this is what makes it exciting.

This quick video shows 3 examples I have put together to simply explore the workings and possibilities of actually making something useful and deliverable. The main aims for these test was to see how well it worked on various media, how quickly an app could be made and to try to see it's limitations. All of the tests are very basic, but each explores different techniques and features.

Ard Digital | Augmented Reality Test 01 from ArdDigital on Vimeo.

Ikea's 2013 catalogue looks like it will feature some augmented elements, as well as links to videos and other content. I believe this is Ikea's way to get customers to interact on-line and through their mobile, rather than using augmented reality as a tool, which is fair enough, so long as it engages and doesn't become tedious or boring.

So the future does look slightly more augmented, but will we see much more in the coming years? The technology is here and evolving fast, but maybe it needs a games console, film, or something else to really spark it off. Sony are creating the Wonderbook, a Harry Potter augmented story telling game, using a magical book, allowing the user to interact with the game. Maybe this will be a massive hit, or maybe it will pass by as simply "another game for kids". The possibilities of augmented reality, for me, are very interesting, and I can't wait to experience some real 3D in the coming years!

Be sure to keep an eye out on my blog for more updates, and testing, as I'm sure there's more to come!

 

Deano

 

Sources -

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/07/ikeas-augmented-reality-catalog-lets-you-peek-inside-the-malm/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18327724

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PUNCH DIGITAL

Punch Digital Services Ltd

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