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Project Spotlight: TRG Makes Current's New Light Brands Shine with Dynamic CGI Sizzle Reel

It’s no good to keep people in the dark about quality lighting products. New, exciting brands deserve big, exciting announcements, which is why Current (formerly GE Current) turned to TRG to put a spotlight on their new lines.

What Current Needed

As a top-tier provider of smart, sustainable lighting solutions, Current works with a variety of customers to create safer, efficient, inspiriting environments. The company was getting ready to launch Lumination and Forum, two new indoor architectural lighting brands. Of course, they needed to make a splash internally before these brands reached customers.

Current wanted to make quite an impression when announcing the news to investors, clients, and other internal parties, which meant it was time for a sizzle reel. Sure, there were some initial challenges, like the products not really existing yet. Fortunately, TRG has a way of creating sensational sizzle reels with nothing but CGI and some creativity.

How We Made That Happen

The first step to creating a sizzle reel is to figure out exactly how you want it to sizzle. Current wanted to showcase the new brands with classy macro closeups of their lights with a black background. The idea was relatively simple – highlight different pieces of lighting equipment with interesting camera movements that create dynamic shots while a voiceover talked through the new product lines. The execution? Much less simple.

Let there be lights

Remember when we said that all it takes to create super sizzle reels is CGI and some creativity? That’s not completely true. It also takes a bunch of CAD files to create multiple Lumination and Forum lights in a CGI environment.

Even though Current’s new brands didn’t technically exist yet, we still needed to create 3D models that were as geometrically accurate as possible. This process is sort of like putting a puzzle together without the box, except that Current provides us with very specific, mathematically precise files for lighting and part designs.

The good news was that this project happened at the same time as some room sets that Current wanted for print ads. Instead of doing the same work twice, we were able to convert all the models and perfect the various materials, textures, and other details required to recreate their new lights for both projects. Who doesn’t love saving time and money?

Let there be cameras

Once we had all the cameras and materials in place, it was time to figure out the animation. While a lot of product videos use three-quarter angles and other shots that show as much of the product as possible, we wanted to utilize some dynamic camera moves to keep the video unique.

Every complicated camera move had to start with a beginning and an end before we filled in every step in between. That process meant giving Current a rough cut of grays – essentially basic gray versions of their products – that showed where a shot would start and how it would move up until the end of a shot. Grays aren’t the prettiest renderings in the world, but they sure are good at making sure the client likes what we’re doing before we get too far into the project.

We also had to consider how to piece all these movements together into one coherent video. A single movement might only take a second or two, but all these shots and cuts must flow in a way that not only tells a story, but also feels compelling. We also had to make these shots match up with a voiceover promoting how Current is reinventing the lighting market with these new brands.

Simply put, that takes a creative eye and plenty of experience. The good news is that our CGI generalists have a lot of experience and multiple eyes, so they were able to map out a sizzle reel full of eye-catching shots that looked really cool. Meanwhile, other members of our team worked with voice talent to record lines that would fall perfectly in place with these vivid visuals.

As you may expect in a project spotlight, the client eventually liked what they saw during the camera review. That approval meant we could start applying all those details that turn grays into something a lot more attractive – flat surfaces get really boring after all. We want people to see the texture of a surface when the light falls on all the micro-grooves of the metal, so we applied matte black aluminum sides and other details to turn the grays into lifelike CGI renditions of real products.

Let there be action

Now that all the pieces had started coming together, it was time to tackle arguably the trickiest part of the puzzle – putting this animation together with a black background. Working with the pitch-black background was a notable challenge because of the effects it had on lighting.

One issue is that a dark background can make shots less interesting if you’re not careful. If you just have a product next to an infinite black space, there’s nothing to draw the eye and make that moment more interesting. This challenge forced us to get creative and play around with the lighting around the products. Through trial and error, we were able to add intrigue to every camera angle.

The black background also created some challenges for the products themselves. With darkness, you run the risk of having a lot of digital noise in parts of a video. Digital noise happens when there isn’t enough light reaching a surface, so the computer doesn’t know what to do in that space. A confused computer can lead to flickering and other unsightly issues, so we needed to make the computer happy without making the background look less dramatic and interesting.

How do you appease your robot overlords and the client’s vision? A lot of trial and error. We tweaked the video enough times to clean up the noise issues without adding too much to our render times.

The Results

Current wanted a striking sizzle reel, and we think we cooked up something special. The whole project took just under a month from initial planning to finished product, which gave Current plenty of time to share the sizzle reel internally. Talk about a bright start for two exciting new brands.

Got a big project for your brand? As you can tell, we’re pretty good at turning complicated jobs into quality content. Contact us today to have TRG bring your brand’s photo, video, and CGI assets to life.

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