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Process Makes Perfect – CGI Production Laid Bare

We’ve recently had an influx of new clients, who we’re delighted to welcome on board. Brian Elder, of Elder Properties in Hartlepoole, it has been my absolute pleasure to pop your CGI cherry. Hurstwood Holdings, Manchester-based neighbours and property giant, we have been honoured to impress you with architectural renders of your beautiful designs. Marketing gurus Glow, it’s been an exciting race to produce the CGIs for your latest brochures.

But the flip-side of this most welcome new business is the ebb and flow phenomenon which CGI companies are inherently subject to:  unpredictable tides of new orders, which all need accommodating, and most of which need accommodating now. Or yesterday.

But the CGI process isn’t a linear one, nor is it simple. After taking the CGI plunge and commissioning the job, there follows a period of intense communication, where we try to glean every detail of the forth-coming build from your imagination and from your architect’s. Some clients may not have even decided on which paving they’d like in the driveway, or what colour the rainwater pipes might be, or whether or not the external floor levels will be flat…

But if you want your image, we need to know! Decisions have to be made, whether that’s at board-meeting level or over a pint with a mate later that day.

And once we have all the information, production kicks in, in earnest. The client waits in quiet anticipation for those first drafts to arrive and when they do, it’s that eureka moment. Those 2D scribblings and that foundation ditch behind the site fence are suddenly transformed into a photo-graph of the finished thing. It’s a bit like going to the hospital for your twelve week scan and catching the very first glimpse of your new baby. Only in the words of Brian Elder: ‘It’s so much better than that!’

Stage one of the process has come to fruition, to a resounding gasp all around.

After this initial amazement and relief comes stage two – a period of analysis and intense scrutiny. Because, let’s face it. You’ve never seen your beautiful designs look real before. And until you do, you might not realise that you’d rather have an oak timber cladding on part of the building than the bricks that are currently there. You might notice your architect missed a gate, or stipulated gravel rather than woodchips on your path. Or you might just fancy changing the doorframe to a different colour.

These may all seem like small, insignificant changes, but while you, the client, undergoes the process of deciding on them all, what’s going in on the design studio? That artist, the one who so thoroughly imagined your dream in order to create it, has moved on to the next job with its own deadline of yesterday, and before we can re-do the changes, we have to understand what they are, analyse them and get them in the queue. So, however small the change might be, it still requires a process to enable it.

The thing is, we can’t just hand over the amends for one project to another artist just because that one happens to be free. That’d be like leaving your three-year old with a new babysitter they’d never met before and bolting out of the door without leaving any instructions. A new artist on someone else’s job would need time to get to terms with the project before implementing any changes, and then they would do so in a different style. Chances are it just wouldn’t work, a bit like say Bryan Adams attempting an Arctic Monkeys cover.

Changes may well be a part of our process, and of course they take less time than the original modelling; but they still need scheduling and when the ebb becomes a flow, everything needs doing at once, and that isn’t always possible.

Which is why, in the words of our founder, sometimes it may seem that ‘…the elephant has gone through the gate but the tail is dragging.’

It’s no easy task getting an elephant through a gate, but once the required changes are made to help it pass, it is indeed a magnificent and triumphant elephant which emerges, and one that is equipped to take its owner to unchartered territories of success.