Case Studies
  Gill Sensors  
Gill Sensors

Lead Designer:
Mike Rees
Mike Rees uses Swift 3D to demonstrate application product animations for Gill Sensors' range of electronic sensors in a clear and professional manner. This site shows beautiful, practical examples of 3D all in a file size suitable for the web. Make sure to check out each sensor.
  Case Study - Interview with Mike Rees  
Mike Rees
Mike Rees

Case Study URL

Position Sensors (click each sensor type)

Position Sensor Application Ideas

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Mike: I studied Product Design at Brunel University and quickly picked up the fundamentals of 3D CAD and web design. Following a number of successful Product Design roles I moved to Gill Research & Development Ltd and have taken charge of company marketing, advertising, web design and application engineering.

How did you get your start with Swift 3D, How long have you been using Swift 3D?
Mike: Part of my role at Gill R&D is to demonstrate application ideas for our range of electronic sensors in a clear and professional manner. The company had previously attempted to produce product animations using Solid Works, however the large file sizes produced made them inadequate for web use. A search for a more suitable solution found Swift 3D, which seemed perfect for this purpose. Using the tutorials, I quickly learnt the basics and set to work producing the first of a catalogue of animations currently on the site. I’ve now been using the program for about a year and a half.

What Swift 3D projects have you done in the past? Any other work you'd like to share?
Mike: None – this was my first! I’ve done a lot of work with other static 3D design programs but this was my first attempt at animation.

What elements of the site are made with Swift 3D?
Mike: Swift is used throughout the site for the product animations and application examples. Each animation was imported into Flash to incorporate a pre-loader, but other than that the animations are exactly as exported from Swift. Larger, high-resolution versions of each animation were created for use at trade shows and customer demonstrations.

What features of Swift 3D did you use to create these design elements?
Mike: A few primitives were used for some of the simple components, however most components were created in Adobe Illustrator, imported and extruded or revolved.

Give us a little insight to modeling, texturing and lighting techniques you used for this project.
I started by breaking down each product type into individual parts that could be extruded or revolved and sketching each part on a scrap of paper. Each piece was then drawn in Adobe Illustrator with the correct sizes and positions applied. Once all pieces were drawn (often numbering 20-30 pieces) they would be laid on top of each other in the correct vertical position, saved and imported into Swift. In Swift each part would be separated, individually extruded or revolved and grouped into sections (to simplify the workspace). Once all pieces of the ‘jigsaw’ had been put into place I gave each an appropriate texture or colour attribute (most of the textures had to be created from scratch (black plastic etc)) and then set to work on the environment and lighting. The lighting that seemed to work best was ‘Stationary 3 Point’, as the product details were visible at most angles. Spot lights were also often used to highlight detailed parts of each product.

With a finished product construction I could set to work on the animation. The key to this appeared to be the order in which each moving section was grouped. There was a lot of trial and error progress during this stage to ensure the lighting, camera movement and moving part synchronization was correct.

What was your biggest design challenge with the site?
As each animation was to be used primarily on the website, the file sizes had to be small enough to ensure the loading time was not excessive. With many elements making up what might appear to be a relatively simple object, surface textures, reflections and many animation frames this was always a challenge. Often I would have to remove textures and/or frames of animation to get the file size small enough. More recently produced animations have been easier to control because the required file size can be considered during the design ‘storyboard’ phase. Taking the camera movements back to the bare essentials could reduce the animation by 40-50 frames so this was always at the back of my mind when considering the animated movement.

What other software did you use for the site, and how did you integrate Swift 3D with these other tools?
I used Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Macromedia Flash to get the animations ready for website use. Illustrator was used to create all of the product elements, Photoshop was used to create environments, colours and textures, and Flash was used to prepare the exported movie for the web (pre-loader etc)

Where would you like to see Swift 3D go in the future?
My life would be made an awful lot easier if files could be imported from a wider range of 3D programs. Gill R&D use Solid Works to produce most product models. If I could import the Solid Works models it would remove the need to draw everything again in Illustrator in sections that can be extruded. A wider range of material textures would also be useful (especially different types of textured plastic).

Any additional comments, inspiration, or ideas, you would like to share with the community?
Mike: I used the Swift 3D forums a lot during my development. Generally no matter what problems you are faced with, someone has overcome this before and explained exactly how they did it.