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CGI: What It Is and How to Apply It in Advertising

Date: 2024-02-08 | Time of reading: 8 minutes (1589 words)

CGI: What It Is and How to Apply It in Advertising

Marketing has long embraced technology. The IT industry has streamlined marketers' work with information gathering and analysis, while neural networks automate and expedite content creation. The advertising world has also adopted CGI from the film industry, where this technology brings non-existent worlds and fantastical characters to life, defying the laws of physics.

Thanks to computer-generated imagery (CGI), brand videos feature vibrant characters and gigantic objects on the streets of real cities.

This article will explain what CGI is, why it's used in marketing, and showcase examples that have left a lasting impression.

What is CGI Graphics

CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) is the creation of realistic or animated models of locations, objects, and people. Typically, these are 3D and 2D objects used in renders, videos, AR, and VR technologies. For a long time, CGI has been a part of the film industry, creating new worlds on screen, fantastical characters, or simply enhancing captured frames. Some films are nearly entirely made using CGI, such as "Life of Pi," which received Oscar nominations for its effects. CGI has opened up possibilities for writing any script, even the most implausible in reality.

The first film with computer effects was Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (1958), where animation appeared in the titles. The integration of graphics and shooting was first achieved in the 1973 film "Westworld." Since then, the technology has evolved, bringing increasingly realistic worlds to the screen. Films like "Star Wars," "The Matrix," "Jurassic Park," "The Lord of the Rings," "Avatar," and Marvel movies wouldn't have been possible without CGI graphics.

By the way, to seamlessly blend real objects with digitally created frames, filmmakers often use a single-color background, typically green or blue, a technique known as "chroma keying."

Avengers: Endgame movie was filmed on a chroma keyThe massive battle of Avengers: Endgame movie was filmed on a chroma key

Gradually, other industries embraced the technology as well: interior design, development for modeling future homes and spaces, computer games. Of course, mass media channels adopted CGI too.

CGI Graphics in Advertising

The nearly limitless visualization possibilities make CGI appealing for marketing. CGI advertising is widely used today, showcasing products and telling brand character stories in both 3D and 2D videos. For instance, the first CGI M&M's video debuted in 1995, and since then, clips featuring the red and yellow candies and others have appeared for many years, with catchphrases even entering popular culture. This happened with the Christmas ad "He does exist! They do exist!"

M&M's Christmas advertising video

Why marketers use CGI design

WOW factor and brand recognition. CGI graphics allow the realization of any creative idea, increasing the chances of capturing audience attention and evoking emotions. Marketing campaigns with CGI videos garner millions of views, make headlines, and stimulate discussions, expanding brand audiences and enhancing recognition.

Realistic product demonstration. Particularly useful for products that don't exist yet. CGI can bring to life a future residential complex, strengthening marketing promotion channels. The visual representation of a product is the first thing users notice in the digital environment.

Budget savings. While CGI creation can be costly, in some cases, it's more economical than live shooting. It eliminates the need to assemble a large team for on-location shoots, providing the flexibility to create backgrounds digitally and film people in a studio.

Ethical considerations. High-quality CGI design is realistic enough to replace people and animals in a frame, sparing them from the potential discomfort of real filming. Representing animals like dogs, cats, tigers, bears digitally can be indistinguishable from real footage, avoiding stress for the animals and preventing brand audience backlash.

How CGI advertising is created

Typically, a whole team collaborates on a CGI project, including animators, artists, 3D modelers, visualization experts, motion designers, CGI illustrators, and other specialists.

Stages of CGI creation

To produce a CGI video, several stages need to be completed.

StagesDescription
Script writingThe first stage is coming up with an idea, which is turned into a frame-by-frame script.
ModelingA model of an object is created that looks like a geometric figure with many faces.
Texture refinementTextures are drawn on the object that they would have if they were real.
Working out the details (rigging)Work out the light and shadows in the image to bring their appearance closer to more realistic ones.
Final assembly (compositing)All created layers are merged and the final clip appears.

CGI clips in advertising: examples

The most impactful and WOW-worthy advertising created with CGI often involves the appearance of impossible or challenging-to-implement objects in the real world. Such advertisements often leave viewers questioning whether video graphics were used or if the brand actually crafted a gigantic installation.

Jacquemus

In the spring of 2023, the Jacquemus brand had Bambino design handbags roam the streets of Paris instead of trams. The video turned out highly realistic and went viral. Global publications covered this advertisement, adding popularity to the company and the bag itself.

Viral video with Bambino bag by Jacquemus

But the brand didn't stop there; in December, they released a series of CGI videos promoting the opening of stores in the mountain resort of Courchevel. The Jacquemus logo appears on ski lift cabins, on a snowboard carried by a diver, and even a Christmas tree with human legs skiing down the mountain.

Maybelline

Maybelline launched a CGI advertisement for mascara. A famous double-decker red bus with eyelashes drove through the streets of London, and a giant brush attached to a building combed the lashes. Lashes also appeared on the subway train.

Barbie

The advertising campaign for the movie "Barbie" was complemented by a giant doll coming out of its box in Dubai near the Burj Khalifa skyscraper. Although the film featured many real locations, this appearance of Barbie only intensified interest in the project.

Giant Barbie doll coming out of its box in Dubai

L'Oreal

Another well-known cosmetic brand created road markings in Paris using a retro car carrying red lipstick on its roof.

The advertisement for the brand's cream became even more impactful as it showed a statue of Liberty holding and applying the cream to her face. Interestingly, before using L'Oreal's product, the main symbol of the USA has pimples, and they instantly disappear afterward.

Rebranding of M.Video

The branding agency Linii vividly and effectively showcased the new logo for the "M.Video" company. The new three-dimensional brand symbol flies over the river in Moscow with a helicopter. People passing by appear to be capturing it as if taking a photo.

DOM.RU

A giant robot flies around Samara and other cities, installing routers on buildings in an advertisement for the internet provider. The storyline of the video is presented as a live broadcast, adding realism to the CGI-created content.

Sberbank

In 2021, a video featuring Gena and Cheburashka waving to passersby from a screen in "Moscow City" was released. They then exceed the boundaries of the screen. The video goes on to highlight the products of the Sberbank ecosystem.

CGI ad by Sberbank

Coca Cola

In the Coca Cola commercial, artworks come to life in a museum, and visitors walk around. Of course, this happens to pass the iconic bottle of soda to each other. The actions of the exhibits remain unnoticed by people in the hall.

Balenciaga

The brand Balenciaga, in collaboration with Fortnite, has created a digital clothing collection. Characters from the online game serve as models on 3D billboards. For instance, the Doggo skin is dressed in the brand's clothing.

CGI powered  Balenciaga & Fortnite collaboration

Pokemon Go

The Pokémon Go advertisement also appeared on a curved screen measuring 154 square meters in Tokyo. Popular game characters appear one by one, engaging in a short storyline. Objects seem to scatter beyond the screen borders.

Pokemon Go CGI powered advertisement

Alexander Wang Underwear

The video featuring a giant bra hanging from a bridge in New York seems incredibly realistic. However, it's once again CGI, part of the advertising campaign for the Alexander Wang Underwear brand. Passing cars interact with the installation, creating doubt about its unrealness.

A giant Alexander Wang Underwear bra above the bridge in New York

Poison Drop

The jewelry brand Poison Drop announced the opening of a new store near Patriarch Ponds in Moscow with a CGI video on their Instagram* account. Initially, giant silver droplets appear on the street, dissolve, and then the Poison Drop sign descends on the building. The video includes moving cars and street noise for added realism.

Summary

CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) is a computer graphics technology for creating realistic objects and characters in video format. It can depict either an entirely digitally created world or individual non-existent elements in the real world. CGI has been utilized in the film industry for many years, and marketers have adopted this technology for advertising purposes.

These videos often evoke a WOW effect, realistically showcase products, and save costs compared to traditional filming, especially in challenging conditions with large production teams. Marketing strategies incorporating CGI provide an ethical means of content creation without using animals.

Specialized teams of CGI experts handle the creation of CGI advertisements, going through stages such as scriptwriting, modeling, texturing, lighting, detailing, and compositing.

  • Meta is a product of the company recognized as an extremist organization in Russia.

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Author: Ksenia Yugova

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