They’re everywhere, those black graphic squares that look like some kind of pixelized code or needlepoint. They’re QRCs or quick response codes. I wondered what their origin was, so I turned to the most trusted source in the world for accurate information. No not Reuters, Wikipedia:
A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) designed to be read by smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, a URL, or other data.
Created by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. The QR code was designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.
My question is, can’t there be any part of our life anymore that isn’t game for advertising? Answer: No.
Everything is fair game. Smart phones and apps have turned all of us into information remoras, seeking nourishment in the form of websites and coupons by whatever means necessary. Now that our minds have been trained to associate these QR hieroglyphics with info, companies can’t get start designing them fast enough. At Indigo Studios, the 3d graphics leader in Atlanta, we’ve yet to make the QRC plunge. Companies definitely have increased the popularity of the codes. But how applicable are the codes to everyday commerce?
Steve Demby, COO of Atella, a web building and mobile app developer, writes:
Here are a few examples how companies currently use QR codes:
All very interesting, but what good are they? Again, it’s all about the need for speed and the need to know. Demby continues:
How can QR Codes Help your Business?
As shown above, QR codes can be for a variety of purposes to help you get information quickly to your customers and their feedback.
Successfully gaining users to LIKE your social media pages or click the Google+ button for your website, can greatly increase your companies online presence, and help your website to return higher in search engines.
Use QR codes to assist with marketing campaigns and present them with Call to Actions that result in profits to your business.
Whenever you use a QR code, make sure you explain the purpose of the code so non-technical users understand their purpose.
Ok, we’ll definitely consider QRCs at Indigo Studios. We’re always looking for ways to broaden the scope of 3d graphics in Atlanta to a wider audience.
Every year thousands of graduates from art and design colleges nationwide emerge seeking jobs in an ever-changing industry. I know because I’ve done portfolio reviews at one time or another, speaking with some of these eager, talented young adults. At some point in their education, more than likely they were given a storyboard or layout assignment. Chances are they sketched their ideas with a traditional writing implement like a marker, a tool which has become nearly obsolete in the commercial art world. Back in the golden, Mad Men age of advertising, layouts, comps and storyboards were being created with the newly introduced magic marker, the artists of the time having transitioned from an old standby, the pastel. And by old, I mean like Cleopatra old. Think about that a minute. Pastels; a drawing material that’s been used by artists since the Renaissance has to this day remained relatively unchanged in its usable form of a chalk stick. I remember fifteen years ago talking to a veteran illustrator about this very topic. He told me that after he and his colleagues got their hands on the first set of markers the studio bought (circa 1955), he never picked up a pastel again. This from a guy who’d been using them forever! And aside from Flo-master’s brief run at mainstreaming their “refillable marker” (you’ve never heard of Flo-master?), disposable magic markers became the go-to medium for producing rich and colorful pre-finish renderings. Whether done in a loose or tight style, the juicy pens could be utilized to create a fresh approach to long established formats.
For a little historical perspective, the now defunct Magic Marker website claimed:
“…In 1952, inventor Sidney Rosenthal developed and began marketing the first felt tip marking device. A chubby, squat glass bottle to hold ink with a wool felt wick and writing tip [this describes the unusual appearance of the first magic markers], Rosenthal named his new marking device Magic Marker because of its ability to mark on almost every surface….”
Although pens in varying forms had made their way into the industry as early as the 40s, from the mid-50s there was a span of nearly half a century that magic markers were held in the highest regard by commercial artists. The Design brand marker became as common to a studios’ supply cache as illustration board and tubes of gouache (what, you’ve never heard of gouache, either?!) The markers were closely guarded by those who relied on them to make their living and were coveted by lower-on-the-totem-pole artists whose own pens had run dry. And god help the poor intern or matt room kid who didn’t cap a crusty old artist’s markers after a long project! Nothing was more anathema to the speed and freshness markers could convey than a dried out pen. They weren’t cheap, either. A set of 60 could set you back nearly as much as a car payment, but the resulting images were glorious. Vivid color, fluid styles that in the right hands produced work reminiscent of watercolors. Markers seemed like they were here to stay.
Until the digital world crushed them.
As artists and designers became more comfortable working with a tablet and stylus, discovering the possibilities of the computer, markers soon could be had easily, plucked off the common work areas of the matt room like discarded tees at your local golf course. Not only were the colorizations and effects limitless(try creating depth of field with a marker. On a computer it’s as easy as a Gaussian blur), digital markers never go dry. Any fear of making a mistake was replaced with Command + Z. Eventually markers were creating nothing but crude maps for deliveries and dust bunnies on matt room shelves.
At Indigo Studios, the foremost imaging shop for 3d graphics in Atlanta, layouts and storyboards are created entirely on the computer. Our artists, all experienced illustrators, work in programs like Painter or Photoshop, where they can quickly toggle between their sketch and finish layers. In programs like these, artists are able to simulate the line weights of pencils and pens, and the look of traditional markers or gouache. Textures can be added as well as myriad effects that enhance the attempt to tell the clients’ story. Approval is made easy through e-mail. Clients provide reference photography of their products and if frames are populated with people, digital photo shoots are designed and quickly imported. The influx of technology has made it easier for deadlines to be met and the final image to be quickly converted to any number of digital formats for rapid delivery to the client. I’ve tried to encourage students to learn to draw at the most rudimentary level, starting with traditional tools like charcoal, pencils. Or for instance, markers. But in a commercial art studio, go try and find one. They’re out there, somewhere, though I often wonder if one day they’ll be as obsolete as a stat camera. Please tell me you’ve heard of a stat camera. Never mind.
The gap between new innovations shrinks each day. It took centuries for technology to finally replace the pastel yet in the blink of an eye, markers became dinosaurs in the commercial art industry. What lies ahead for the storyboard and layout artists in our business? I couldn’t tell you. But I know this; you better not blink or you just may miss it.
I was channel surfing once, an activity that I feel is greatly underappreciated by most (especially the general female population), when I happened upon Spielberg’s classic, JAWS. My son was sitting next to me, wondering why I was clicking past Rugrats and Cat Dog. Throwing caution to the wind, I thought it would be a perfect time to introduce him to the nerve-wracking cinematic classic, the groundbreaking nail biting thriller of my youth. This was about ten years ago so my boy was maybe nine (he’s a sophomore in college now). The film was right at the scene where the shark attacks Captain Quint’s boat, and based on my kid’s bland reaction, I nearly wanted to check his pulse. “Hey! Isn’t that scary?” I watched, flashback terror gripping me as the robotic shark thrashed with the doomed Orca in its massive jaws. “Aren’t you scared?” He looked at me and said, “When’s dinner?”
Then I heard the garage door open and there appeared my daughter, who was 7 at the time. I tried to shield her from the screen as Bruce, the name given to th mechanical shark, chomped down on Robert Shaw’s character, blood spurting from his mouth. Too late! “Oh my god!” she screamed, her eyes bugged out like some work by Edvard Munch. She’d be traumatized, she’d be frightened forever of going in the water… “That shark is SOOO fake!”
Fake? What’dya mean fake!
I remember being in a theater when JAWS opened and being terrified. The kid next to me jerked backward so violently when the head fell out of the submerged boat wreckage that he broke his elbow. He cried quietly but didn’t go to the doctor until after the movie. Special effects have come so far and really, it’s all relative. My father, now 87, once told me that Frankenstein was the scariest movie he’d ever seen. To this day he won’t watch it.
Frankentsein? With Lon Chaney, Jr? All due respect, Pop, but you could see the plaster on his forehead.
Still, when that’s all you’ve seen, you can be fooled and frightened with ease. Indigo Studios, a leading 3D graphics studio in Atlanta has created some killer special effects that would’ve blown my father’s mind when he was a teenager. Heck, what am I saying; they would’ve made me hide under the covers, too (I still can’t watch The Exorcist if I’m home by myself). Today Indigo Studios is able to take data or create it to fashion everything from monsters and cows to tornados and tomatoes.
Some of the projects we receive from clients come replete with manufacturing data that we convert before working our magic on. But what do you do when your client asks you to make a shark? Well, we size up the situation and either photograph one (scary!) or go the preferable route, which is to retouch an existing or original shot. If that doesn’t work, we create it in CGI.
Indigo Studios, the leading 3D graphics studio in Atlanta has a revolving involvement in Discovery’s Shark Week. Indigo has done everything from designing and building a dorsal fin magazine insert to a virtual Great White’s face threatening to break through a billboard. It’s one of the main reasons we’re not only the leading 3D graphics studio in Atlanta but are building that same reputation nationwide.
It will be fun to see what the future holds for moviegoers years from now. One thing time and technology won’t ever change is peoples’ thirst to be entertained.
Domo Transformato, Mr. Roboto
What do you get when you take an assemblage of scratched up car parts, bolts, signs, gears and just plain junk, throw it all into big pile and tell the folks at Indigo, “Make something cool”? Oh yeah, none of the stuff exists.
Virtual robots. The new images will appear on all the packaging of Hasbro’s Transformers 3 box-tops. Using latest CGI software and supplied reference from Hasbro, Indigo designed and developed over 50 robot busts and the cars they transform into based on the robots from the popular movie series. There was no shortage of brainstorming amongst the Indigo staff on how to realistically create surfaces that felt distressed and worn enough to look real. Multiple test runs were done and put together and critiqued repeatedly until there was no doubt the assembled robots would fool the eye.
We also were able to apply the same excitement to Hasbro’s Kreo line, interlocking blocks that let the younger kids use their hands and imagination to build the characters from the movies.
This entire project has been a blast, and we only hope there’s truth to the rumors of a Transformers 4!
We’ve been doing quite a bit of product rendering for Rheem lately, working with them to fill out their product line and showcase the features that make their brand unique. The tankless water heater is one such product. Aside from the cost savings realized by going tankless, Rheem wanted to communicate how compact the unit is, allowing it to be placed into a room environment without taking up the big footprint that a traditional water heater does. We created a laundry room environment entirely in CGI to illustrate just how well the heater incorporates itself into the room. Through compositing and retouching, the phantom view provides the scale to show how out-of-the way going tankless allows. This permanent set is now available for Indigo and Rheem to access for product update, feature highlights, POV changes, even animation, without having to store or rebuild, saving time and money. Now that’s hot.
Tony Hocevar – CGI Artist
Tony began his creative experience at Mississippi State University where he earned a bachelor’s of fine arts in figurative painting with a minor in computer animation. He comes to Indigo via Los Angeles where he worked for Electronic Arts. “EA was integral for developing pipeline management and process development…but I get a more diverse project load here,” Tony tells us. Balancing his strong client management acumen with blazing talent, he is a great asset to Indigo’s growing CGI department. He couldn’t be happier back in the South.
Leah Roth – Studio Assistant
A Kansas City native, and a southerner by choice, Leah recently graduated from GTT with a degree in Photography. Her attention to detail and her creative talent make her a perfect fit for Indigo’s multi-discipline approach to visual communications.
Brandon Hall – CGI Artist
A self-taught CGI generalist, Brandon comes to Indigo by way of the Department of Defense where he worked as a Modeling Lead creating training simulations for US military applications. However, his security clearance does little to prevent Brandon from getting owned in a round of COD during renders.
Sergey Poltavskiy – CGI Artist
Born in the USSR, Sergey has been working on 3DS Max since he was 14 years old. Making up for a youth spent in polygonal manipulation, Sergey stunts sport bikes in his hours away from the studio. His modeling skills are sick.
Along with new faces comes new recognition for our work.
CGI + Photography Awards
Thanks to all of our creative partners/clientele and congratulations on the award-winning work.
Indigo Studios brings Mardi Gras to Atlanta!
We got beads. We got beer. We got boas. Indigo Studios recently transformed their Atlanta based photo studio into a rip roaring party straight from Bourbon Street. Tasked with creating the new promotion for Coors Light Mardi Gras, Indigo Studios put together a production without worry of weather, travel, or permits. From our cozy studio we shot the crowd scene and proceeded to build Bourbon Street on the computer. We modeled, lit and rendered this CGI city street scene in 3D Studio Max and then Photoshopped our crowd in to create this compelling advertisement. Throw in a little digital magic, illustration, and sweetening, and we came out with an exciting image that captures both the spirit of Mardi Gras and ice cold Coors Light!