Product Mockup of Carl Aid - Drink It!

Why You Want Product Mock-ups

The phrase ‘Product Placement’ usually refers to movie or TV production companies taking money from sponsors to promote products on screen. A family eating their brand of cereal, or a hero drinking a certain soda for example. That is not what this post is about. This is about Product Mock-ups.

In the design world, product placement has a far more literal and practical meaning.

Either photographically or by graphic magic, adding elements seamlessly into scenes to make the unreal look real (known as compositing) is the beating heart of modern marketing. Placing studio models onto beaches or into cars are two everyday examples. Compositing requires skill, planning, and time. This skill set deserves entire volumes of posts. Fortunately many can be found with a quick Internet search. The art of creating something which doesn’t physically exist… well. That’s next level.

Compositing non-existent products is a whole new ball game.

The product must first be created, usually from scratch while working closely with the client to match their product visualization. This requires design and practical skills beyond putting images together. You create from a blank canvas. The conceptual creation must then be matched with the angle, scale, and colour scheme of the carefully chosen target, and the lighting on the product matched to seem it was actually, physically, present in the scene. If done well, the viewer only knows when they are told that it’s a composite mock-up. That’s the Gold Standard: If you’re not told, you think it’s real.

What Are The Benefits Of Product Mock-ups?

A real and growing need exists for product mock-ups in the global business world.

Companies want to see how physical products will look before committing the resources to make them. Proof of concept mock-ups can be examined from all angles and discussed among stakeholders. Designs and packaging variations can be evaluated quickly, and costed accurately, without need to retool production lines or build multiple time consuming physical prototypes. It’s a much faster, more responsive, and far less expensive workflow for getting a product to market.

Startups seeking financing have more chance of securing funds when they can show potential investors one or more mock-ups as part of their pitch, even if they haven’t yet made a physical product. Focus groups can be given virtual products on which to provide feedback about packaging, shapes, colours, fonts, style.

Without spending a single dollar on production costs, it is possible to raise funds and take advance sales. For real-world examples, look no further than Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe.

These are just some of the practical benefits that can be leveraged with a mock-up. It’s clear to see that working this kind of composite into marketing and advertising campaigns can reap massive rewards.

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid

Compositing of any kind is a valuable skill, for sure. It’s also a very rewarding practical exercise and something I like to do when I have spare time and the mood takes me.

Tongue firmly in cheek, I created my very own product: Carl Aid. Clearly not a real product (unless someone wants to invest?) this proof of concept and shameless marketing tool is simply eye candy. It shows the power of mock-ups. A different colour? No problem. Move the logo? Done. Change the photo. Sure.

As a baseline target I used an iPhone snapshot of my real camera on a bar in Buffalo where we stopped for lunch. The napkin holder originally said ‘Kahlua’, so that had to go. Which led me to Carl, then to Carl Aid. Then, of course, I made and branded a can of soda, blending it with the low res original iPhoto and adding a little camera blur to match the depth of field. As a proof of concept, it does the job nicely.

As a purely practice piece this went quickly from ‘Don’t drink the Kahlua’ to ‘Drink the Carl Aid’ and… well. Here’s the finished proof of concept. Carl Aid tastes good and is good for you. Any business wanting to leverage this kind of product placement or work out campaign strategies can test that at any time.

Just pick up a phone. Let’s do lunch. Maybe have a soft drink as we work. Maybe try the Carl-Aid.

Drink it…

Product Mockup of Carl Aid - Drink It!
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Concept Art: Don't Pay The Ferryman

Don’t Pay The Ferryman

In the last article I used this image of me laying back taking a break from rowing. It was taken by my wonderful wife with her point and click. I liked it so much I wanted to play with it, and see where the muse took me. After a few enjoyable hours of play, I created this: Don’t Pay The Ferryman.

My apologies to Chris De Burgh for borrowing his title. His excellent song of the same name started running through my head as the work evolved into this final piece. It grew through several different ideas before I locked on this one. I’m going to work on variations, but this one works best for me so far. The image here gives a strong visual impact that tells a powerful story. This story.

The Ferryman

The Styx is the mythical River Of The Dead. To reach the afterlife, it must be crossed.

The Styx can only be crossed by ferry. There are no bridges. The dead carry no possessions. They have no boats. Swimmers attempting to cheat their way into the afterlife become disoriented and lost in the perpetual mists along the river, until exhaustion overtakes them and they sink down into the murky depths of damnation. Fearful souls too afraid to board the ferry spend eternity in the ghostly limbo between life and death. They can be seen along the shore, until they are lost in mist as the ferry pulls away leaving them behind forever.

The ferryman, whose name is Charon, guides the dead to their final home, rowing forever backward and forward between the shores of life and death. His ferry is the only safe path to the afterlife. He has to be paid for his troubles. Once you have paid his fee, you may board. Your fate is sealed. So unless you are weary of this world and ready for that final journey… don’t pay him.

This myth has percolated in many forms and many cultures throughout history. It’s one reason the dead would have pennies placed on their eyes: To ensure they could afford safe passage.

Time and Tide

Two things which wait for no man are time and tide. Two more are death and taxes. The only one we are not sure applies here is taxes. There’s an interesting stream of thought…

I have never been one to give up easily. I will fight to the last, and if there is a way around a problem I will find it. One day, though, and being purely practical, my life will be over and I will reluctantly have to pay Charon. Probably. But not until I’ve explored every option. Which is where we come in.

So here I am, dead. Rowing a boat I somehow managed to contrive or conjure, exhausted from navigating the Styx and its mind-bending mists that ensnare and confuse and push the faint of heart back to the shore where they must pay the ferryman for passage. I’m sleeping the sleep of the terminally tired, not yet aware that my stubborn perseverance actually paid off: My little boat found it’s way to safe harbour.

I drifted into the channel, and am being carried by gentle waves to the futuristic landing stage of my next adventure (this is my afterlife, guys). As one closes, another door opens. Onward. Always onward.

Styx

The band Styx have absolutely no connection to this. They simply share the name of the mythical river. As I worked on this, it morphed many times. At one point I decided it would make a great concept album cover, so I went with it even though it’s not (yet) square. That’s another variant for another day.

The album is ‘Don’t Pay The Ferryman’. And it’s by a band called Styx Not. Not Styx.

Homage to a great band that I discovered through my wonderful wife and have grown to love, the members of which band will hopefully not try to sue me for copyright infringement. But hey, guys, if you want to use this concept as your next album cover, let’s talk. Just throwing it out there. Worth a shot. Hey, gimme a break. I may one day have a ferryman to pay. Or not.

Don't Pay The Ferryman concept art
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Carl resting

Jordan Harbour Gallery

I finally collated the images and uploaded a Jordan Harbour Gallery to my photo site.

It took a couple of trips. I shot some of these from the water, after rowing our 4-person inflatable boat from the launch point at the Jordan Conservation area, under the QEW and around the headland into Lake Ontario for the Grande Hermine shots, before rowing back down to get to the bridge. Quite the day.

On another day, we went back and crossed the bridge on foot, taking aerial images of the lake as we went, then hiked to the bottom of the trail to get shots from the riverbank.

None of these photos were shot on a drone. I didn’t own one at the time, hence the boat. Hey, when I commit, I commit. I will say, though, that my decision to later buy and become licensed to operate a drone may have been heavily influenced by this fun but tiring 7-hour rowing round trip.

I was toast by the end, as the wind picked up and fought us getting back to the dock. We weren’t making much headway so I engaged the help of my wonderful wife and her strong arms for the last half hour to pull an oar alongside me. She is quite the woman. Pretty, and can probably bench press a Buick.

After the day in the hot sun and all that exercise, I can tell you I slept well that night. We both did.

These were a couple of great days out that gave us some very happy memories and some great photos. Totally worth the effort. I was able to get unique perspectives that would not otherwise have been possible, even with a drone. I also have a longer battery life. Anyway, sometimes, it’s about the journey.

Please, enjoy the gallery. Let me know if you like the gallery by leaving a comment below. Purchasing any image in any format will soothe my still-sore muscles and the memory of all that rowing…

Sore but still laughing and loving life
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