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Exploded View Animation of Tech Lighting Element

Tech Lighting’s ELEMENT: exploded view showing internal lenses and structure.

Exploded View Animation of Tech Lighting Element: Created for Chicago-based Tech Lighting, the ELEMENT is a unique light designed for the demands of lighting retail display. Element’s ability to focus and direct light to very specific angles allows pin-point accuracy and precision presentation. Because of its design, the ability to change bulbs more efficiently make maintenance easier and less expensive. This exploded 3D product view was created as part of a larger animation project.

Give CraneDigital a call for your next marketing video. With 30 years experience we can help present your products in the best light possible.

Clean Power Graphics

Alternative clean power and energy require new ways of visualization. Let’s face it: new technologies require new thought; a new approach to help early market adaptors understand you’re value proposition. CraneDigital has been helping creative thinkers present their alternative energy strategies for more than 20 years.

Clean Power Graphics: DAC (Direct Air Capture) Hub
Direct air capture, or DAC, is a carbon dioxide removal process that separates carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere. The separated CO2 is then converted into components for other products, or stored safely deep underground. DAC, and other forms of carbon removal, is a critical tool for reaching net-zero emissions and cleaning up the legacy carbon pollution that is already in the atmosphere, causing significant climate change related damage.

In order for innovative clean power and clean energy technologies to gain momentum people need to understand how they work. Technical messaging can be complicated. That’s where we come in. With 30 years of experience in visual communications CraneDigital uses the universal language of visual intelligence to clarify your message. One of the biggest challenges in Marketing & Communications is striking the right balance between accuracy and the ability to easily explain something without confusing your audience. Clean power graphics from CraneDigital visually explains your message using simple visuals to clarify complex ideas.

3D cut-away illustration is used to showcase different aspects of the rain cycling process.
3D cut-away illustration is used to showcase different aspects of the rain cycling process.
Clean Power Graphics: 3D Modeling for Graphic Design: Munters VariMax® IFRG Process Graphic. Explaining the principles behind heat exchange technology.
Munters VariMax® IFRG Process Graphic. Explaining the principles behind heat exchange technology.

What we do

CraneDigital helps organizations visualize abstract concepts using 3D animation, video and other forms of visual story telling. We can convert complex CAD engineering data sets into marketing masterpieces. Or fictional – but plausible – environments to illustrate concepts. Or, anything in between. If you have thought of it, we can help others understand it.

Clean Power Graphics: Carbon capture and sequestration concept illustration for Future Gen Alliance/U.S. Department of Energy. This graphic helps non-technical audiences understand how it’s possible to ‘capture’ CO2 and through the miracle of engineering, safely inject that CO2 into a layer of rock thousands of feet below the surface. Above, using google maps data and to-scale imagery, an accurate representation of the project was constructed to help stake holders understand the technology.
Carbon Capture and Sequestration Conceptual Graphic created for U.S. Department of Energy/Future Gen Alliance.
Carbon Capture and Sequestration Conceptual Graphic created for U.S. Department of Energy/Future Gen Alliance.
Direct Air Capture animated 3D model.
Clean Power Graphics: 3D explainer video showing heliostat mirror array for Sundrop Fuels
Heliostat mirror array for Sundrop Fuels
Sundrop Fuels Lifecycle Illustration: explaining the value chain for Sundrop Fuels "green" gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels' biofuels. Syngas is made into “green” gasoline
and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) using the commercial methanol and MTG 
process, or into diesel and aviation fuel using the Fischer-Tropsch process.
Sundrop Fuels Lifecycle Illustration: explaining the value chain for Sundrop Fuels “green” gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels’ biofuels. This high-level graphic illustrates how Syngas is made into “green” gasoline and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) using the commercial methanol and MTG process, or into diesel and aviation fuel using the Fischer-Tropsch process.
Solar Hot Water Heater Thermosiphon diagrams created for Popular Mechanics magazine.
Solar Hot Water Heater Thermosiphon diagrams created for article in Popular Mechanics magazine on Solar Hot Water Heaters.
Solar Hot Water Heater illustrations created for Popular Mechanics Magazine.
Solar Hot Water Heater illustrations created for Popular Mechanics Magazine.

CraneDigital has extensive experience and a solid track record helping clients large and small move ideas from notional into actual. We’re experts at joining your creative team as trusted partners in the sometimes complex process of technical marketing.

Clean Power Graphics: 3D Site Maps, Process Diagrams
Clean Water Process Diagram created for Milton Roy
Pollution-Free Power: a diagram of how the micro fuel cell operates. Created in the mid 90’s for Los Alamos Start-Up, Hockaday Micro Fuel Cell.
High-Temp Particle Reactor: on left is sketch provided by client. On right the graphic created for presentation.
High-Temp Particle Reactor: on left is sketch provided by client. On right the graphic created for presentation.
Air Genesis Wind Turbine
Air Genesis Wind Turbine

2024 sees many alternatives to conventional energy sources being explored. When it comes time to present those ideas, we can help. With 30 years experience in marketing, technical illustration, animation and video production, CraneDigital helps get your message in front of a global audience.

Air Genesis Wind Turbine
Air Genesis Wind Turbine

Let clean power graphics from CraneDigital help you clean things up in 2024. Give us a call at (970) 213-1828. We can help.

3D Modeling for Graphic Design

3D Modeling for graphic design has evolved tremendously over the years. CraneDigital has been there since the early days, today putting to work 30 years of experience, creativity and wisdom on every project landing on our desk.

3D Modeling for Graphic Design: Munters VariMax® IFRG Process Graphic. Explaining the principles behind heat exchange technology.

3D Modeling for Graphic Design: Munters VariMax® IFRG Process Graphic. Explaining the principles behind heat exchange technology. 3D Illustration is used to graphically represent concepts without committing to a specific model of equipment. This allows the graphic a longer shelf life due to not being tied to specific piece of equipment’s life span

3D Modeling for Graphic Design is a cornerstone technique used to visualize anything by creating believable, plausible content. CraneDigital began (as Sandhill Studios) doing this right around the time the (current version of the) internet was born, using airbrushing techniques learned in art school.

Data Center 3D Model: two-story, 48MW ITE data center is a complex image to digest. Using visualization techniques like before and after we're able to provide a better look at what's going on under the roof.Data Center 3D Model: two-story, 48MW ITE data center is a complex image to digest. Using visualization techniques like before and after we're able to provide a better look at what's going on under the roof.
Data Center 3D Model: two-story, 48MW ITE data center is a complex image to digest. Using visualization techniques like before and after we’re able to provide a better look at what’s going on under the roof.
A brief assortment of graphical logo treatments for clients over the years.

Then one day walking through an Albuquerque, NM bookstore, I stumbled upon something that would alter the course of my career – and life. Deep in the computer software section there was a software box with catchy illustrations that looked similar to what I was creating with an airbrush – only better. I showed it to my wife and we both winced at the price: $300 – which was a lot of money to a couple of artists trying to make it in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the mid 90’s. After a brief discussion we decided it was worth the risk, and my first 3D Illustration program, Ray Dream Designer was purchased.

3D explainer video
CAD Translation opens up an entirely new realm for the 3D modeler/illustrator. If an object already exists as a result of R&D/Engineering, it makes no sense to waste time re-modeling it. The 3D illustrator is able to then use truly accurate digital twins and do things otherwise impossible in real life. Slicing through exterior housings to see interior features, for example. Created for long-time client Informa-Engage these industrial-strength power products are from CAD files.
3D Modeling for Graphic Design.
Ant Acid, where it began almost 30 years ago. Dusting off a project from art school and using it to teach myself 3D modeling, Ant Acid went on to win notoriety in the New York Society of Illustrators. The makers of Ray Dream Design initially couldn’t believe their software was used to create such a complex, detailed model.
3D Model of Well Head.
Using photographs as reference, virtually anything can be built by a skilled 3D modeler. Extreme attention to detail is essential to creating believable objects that appear as they would in the physical world. A firm grasp of photographic techniques translates well to working with the sophisticated virtual cameras of 3D.

With computer skills young and undeveloped, but a firm understanding of the essentials, I loaded the software on my Mac – which barely met the basic system requirements. Immediately it became clear I needed a new computer. The journey had begun.

BioCycle-D from Enviromix: Optimized Aerobic Digestion for waste water technology explained
BioCycle D Optimized Aerobic Digestion. Part CAD file translation, part re-modeling/optimizing for animation, this image is a good example of using client-provided information as a base, then altering various components for optimum presentation.
Land diagrams and plot maps.
Created for Shell Oil’s S.U.R.E (Shell Unconventional Resource Exploration) team, 3D illustration was used with GIS data to accurately represent a real plot of land in western Colorado.

Fast forward 30+ years and many, many hours later, learning many, many 3D modeling software packages – here we are, the end of 2023. The potential of 3D graphics packages far exceeds the wildest imagination of yesteryear. Today, virtually anything can be created, visualized, invented – and animated – on the computer, bringing an entire new level of potential to visual communications.

With 30 years of examples 3D Modeling for Graphic Design to show, it’s tough to decide which images should be on this page. As well, styles change over time. Initially my color palette leaned towards brighter, more vibrant colors. Over time I’ve become more understated, focusing instead on the nuance produced by subtle shifts in lighting, allowing an object’s natural character to emerge. This is also attributable in part to more advanced lighting techniques.

Cut-away illustration of blow out preventer.
After the Deep Water Horizon’s catastrophic failure, Royal Dutch Shell executives were in damage control explaining to share holders why this could not happen to their equipment. 3D illustration from CraneDigital helped convey that message in high-stakes meetings with the CEO.

While CraneDigital has worked with large, multi-national corporations over the last 30 years, we’ve also had the privilege of working with those just starting out, trying to help get ideas out of their head for the rest of the world to see. The work below was created for start-up company Cahill Services, providing heat to construction sites around the world through use of portable, jet-engine powered heaters they somehow figured out how to mount in trailers and ship to some of the coldest, most remote sites on earth. We worked closely with Cahill Heating to understand their value proposition, then advise visuals that best supported core messaging. The result was a explainer video concisely summarizing Cahill’s value proposition.

3D Modeling for Graphic Design: Conveying complex value propositions is a key benefit of using 3D graphics for marketing. Being able to visually illustrate concepts relationships between elements eliminates confusion and clarifies messaging.
3D Modeling for Graphic Design: Conveying complex value propositions is a key benefit of using 3D graphics for marketing. Being able to visually illustrate concepts relationships between elements eliminates confusion and clarifies messaging.

One trailer model (below) was represented by CAD engineering. The other needed to be constructed as a 3D model by CraneDigital. Can you tell which is which in the image below?

3D Modeling for Graphic Design: We illustrate and animate using 3D models either provided by client as CAD files, or by building the model from scratch using visual reference.
We animate and illustrate using 3D models either provided by client as CAD files, or by building the model from scratch using visual reference.

This last image is an example created recently for a project that has not yet been fully realized. The initial ask was for a series of images relating to Clean Energy. Though the project didn’t materialize due to deadline constraints, it seemed a good enough idea to explore anyway. As a result we’ve embarked on modeling various components for future projects. Below is a DAC Hub, created as a 3D model allowing 360° views for future projects. After 30 years of doing this, our model library is extensive.

DAC (Direct Air Capture) Hub
Direct air capture, or DAC, is a carbon dioxide removal process that separates carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere. The separated CO2 can then be converted into components of products like concrete or stored safely and permanently deep underground. DAC, and other forms of carbon removal, is a critical tool for reaching net-zero emissions and cleaning up the legacy carbon pollution that is already in the atmosphere, causing significant climate change related damage.

So no matter the project, CraneDigital has 30 years of experience creating custom imagery for an enormous variety of applications and clients. Give us a call at (970) 213-1828. We’d love to help on your next project. Thanks for reading.

Calisthenics for 3D modeling

Calisthenics for 3D modeling: Part Swiss Army Knife, part Que-Ball, part RPG, part what ever the heck you want it to be, ToolBall serves as calisthenics for 3D modeling. Originally created years ago as a means to learn 3D modeling tools and techniques, he has been ported into several different 3D animation environments since. Originally born in Lightwave 3D, he now resides in the Autodesk universe. Each new environment’s set of tools allows different expressions of his final look and functionality.

The Original ToolBall video, created in LightWave 3D in early 2000’s (no audio)
More contemporary renderings of ToolBall in his present form.

ToolBall: Part Swiss Army knife, part Que-Ball, part RPG, part whatever the heck you want it to be… ToolBall serves as calisthenics for 3D modeling.

ToolBall’s 15 minutes of fame came at Siggraph where he flew along side Shrek on HP‘s big screen. We were very proud of his journey.

Since his inception, between projects we like to open the models and implement anything learned from the last project. ToolBall is also a good project to test render settings with. We like to think of him as an exercise platform; jumping jacks to get started… calisthenics for 3D modeling to limber up… practice on. You never know what he’ll turn into next.

ToolBall: Calisthenics for 3D modeling
Calisthenics for 3D modeling
More contemporary renderings of ToolBall in his present form.
Calisthenics for 3D modeling helps optimize render settings. Achieving the desired results requires balancing acceptable rendering times with the resulting look.
ToolBall: Calisthenics for 3D modeling
ToolBall: Calisthenics for 3D modeling

Because much of CraneDigital’s work is geared towards large corporations striving to maintain consistent messaging adhering to brand strategies, creative efforts like ToolBall sit patiently on the sidelines, waiting for his time to come. To quote a recent ad campaign launched by the state of Nebraska, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”

ToolBall: Calisthenics for 3D modeling
ToolBall: Part Swiss Army knife, part Que-ball, part RPG, part whatever the heck you want it to be…ToolBall spent time in SoftImage/mental ray getting updated and equipped with new gadgets.

Calisthenics for 3D modeling takes other forms, like Ant Acid and other creative projects buried deep in the recesses of CraneDigital’s archives. These projects stimulate creative thinking, preparing to innovate when the time comes. Every 3D animation project is different, requiring a new problem to solve. New techniques allow perfecting a certain look or action that can breathe that something extra into your project and make the difference, allowing your content to stand out amidst a crowded, noisy market place. Honing technical skills ensures we’re ready for anything that comes along next. And – it’s a heck of a lot of fun, and satisfies the artistic drive – whether he’s ready to be seen by the public or not.

When it comes time for your next creative effort and you really want to make a splash, give CraneDigital a call. With 30 years of creative excellence, business with integrity and creative thinking ready to go to work for you, we’ can help.