When Vaisala acquired 3TIER, one of the marketing initiatives was to start to educate clients on the value of the range of services on offer. It began as a slide deck, but as we began doing more video projects for trade shows, it became clear that there was an opportunity to do a bit more.
I took the slide deck, and began looking at the tools I had in my tool kit, and pitched the idea that this could be done with a slick, 30 second video, done in an infographic style, that was more engaging than a slide deck that required a bit more hand holding.
The idea had little friction, so I began work. I collected the requirements:
- It had to be short, to capture attention of trade show goers
- it should show the value of using MET towers and a Triton Sodar (the little speaker guy that moves through the scene)
- it should show that the positions of wind turbines can be better optimized with the aid of data collection
- it shows how both energy production and uncertainty are effected by data collection
I worked with several groups within the organization to gather thoughts on how this might be communicated clearly. Having access to scientists, engineers, and sales people became stakeholders in the project as it was to become a tool for use in presentations, client meetings, and trade shows.
We began with a brainstorming session, story boarding the main ideas, phases, and general flow of the information we needed to impart.
I began by working in 3d Studio Max to mock-up the terrain data, and modeling the assets we would need. At the first series of meetings, it became clear that the way things were presented was too realistic, as the assets as presented to engineers looked too problematic. The terrain we chose, while visually interesting, was far too treacherous for a wind park developer to use, let alone have trucks and crews out on site.
With that feedback, I began to abstract away the look to be more disarming. I chose a low poly, colorful art style, which worked immediately to disassociate the former associations of realism, which also sped up my workflow considerably as assets didn't need a realistic polish, and could instead be quite cartoonish.
I took advantage of subject matter experts, and made sure that I was showing things that would "look about right" to an engineer who could potentially sniff out that Met towers aren't actually that tall, and they can't actually pull data from that far, and other technical gotcha's that would stuck out.
After a few animatics, we were full steam ahead on producing the animation.
With the animation complete, I took the comps into After Effects for a bit of post polish. Here I created assets in Illustrator as the overlay for the uncertainty and energy values. Again I leverage access to subject matter experts to get the approximate values for gigawatt hours produced, and percentage values for just how much uncertainty we lose when bringing more data online.
Instead of waiting for meetings with those experts, I used expressions in after effects for placeholder values, and when I got actual numbers, I could plug those numbers in, and render the sequence without reworking any key-frame data. This ultimately became a huge time saver when the values initially were much too high, and needed rework close to a deadline.