tage of distance to make the texture less of a standout. Cropping puts the mannequin into the background. We also put “skin” on his elbows and knees
to remove unrealistic distractions from the image.
One of our focus groups suggested getting rid
of the props altogether, keeping it simple and just
showing what is for sale. The result is Figure 2c.
On a computer, it is easy to toggle between Figure
2b and 2c to make the product really jump out. We
made an animation that did just that, but it felt like a
flash-bulb experience instead of something helpful.
With our exposure to the previous images,
Figures 3a and 3b show a product with recognizable
functions. Our focus group found these images to
be mysterious without context and suggested using them in an owner’s manual. Our advice is to use
them in the right context.
In addition to lovely still shots, we also created animations using the CAD database. The thumbnail
in Figure 4 gives a hint of what’s in our training
video. You’ll see the invention attached to a guitar
in the lap of a mannequin.
This snippet from a video shows the mannequin
playing the guitar with moving arms, head, and
hands. The video briefly shows the armrest’s hinge
adjustment and its placement options, then moves
through all three of the axis adjustments for the leg
rest, and closes with a fly-around showing the poser’s performance from many points of view.
As a quick instruction manual for new owners,
that video has been effective. As aspiring movie
producers and directors, we applied our lessons
learned from the still shot production to creating
the scenes, or views, for the animation storyboard/
What did we learn?
1. Focus on telling the story of why as much as
2. Always keep the star of the show the center of
3. Pause and go slow for comprehension. Speed
is for drama. Camera moves change the point
Sadly, some mistakes were made along the way as
well when we created the preliminary armrest video.
The thumbnail in Figure 5 shows the basic setup
of this rejected video. The guitar is the only prop to
give meaning to the image. The video slowly plays
the tuck of the hinge into each and every one of the
slots. (It’s very repetitive, but nicely rendered.) The
audience jumps and flies to see the alignment of the
device with the guitar, but does not learn why and
only a little bit about how.
The directors thought this video was beautiful. I
think we were dazzled by the ability of the software
to make the video production easy and controllable.
Surprisingly, our nonguitarist friends in the focus
group were not interested in watching a boring training video twice, let alone all the way through once.
Poser as a Prop
The props used to present the product are an important part of the design process. We don’t offr the
CAD of this guitar accessory; Johnson’s models are
proprietary. But we can offer downloadable models
we used for the mannequin.
We found that animating the poser so that he
seemed to be using the product was a valuable
trick. Unfortunately, the free online download from
3dcontentcentral was not ready to use for movie-making. We wanted to use mouse-drag to quickly
position the mannequin. We got there, but it took
some prep work to produce moving mannequins.
Our CAD tool, SolidWorks®, includes the Mate
Controller, which captures a list of positions for limit
mates. These include distance and angle. Figure 6 is
a snippet of an animation of the poser made with
the Mate Controller. The thumbnail in Figure 6
gives a hint that the poser dances around the screen
in the video. He has happy feet.
Why is this exciting? Using the poser as a prop in
an assembly gives context. Motion Controller allows
the poser to behave in the context of the assembly:
He can operate stuff. As a result, a movie can be rendered to record his staged behavior.
Only Lonely CAD
How was the movie created? Here’s our work flow
for CAD-software-only animation.
After downloading hombre.sldasm, we added
concentric mates to his spherical joints. For a couple of the limb models, we had to use Move Body to
locate the pivot center at world origin. It takes just
a couple of mouse clicks on each part to add the
mates at joints. De la Iglesia’s mannequin does not
have many parts. That’s a blessing when repeatedly
We positioned his torso at a fixed location relative to the world origin. All other components were
limit-mated relative to the torso.
We then added distance mates to his hands and
feet (relative to the world coordinate top, right, and
front planes). Those limit-distance mates proved
easier to control for this project compared to limit-angle mates for limbs.
For extra fun, we added hair to his head by sketching a 3-D line for the outline of his scalp, used that
for Split Line, then Surface Offset the to-be-hair surfaces. Last we thickened the offset surface to create
body in his coif. Yep, that’s a CAD jockey pun.
From experience and for clothing the poser, we
used textures that exported from SolidWorks into
Composer. Check out the shoelaces and eyelets on
After capturing a series of positions with the Mate
Controller, we used Motion Study to import the
scenes from Mate Controller.
We used Motion Study to add camera positions so
hombre.sldasm would move around the screen.
Finally, we exported the AVI animation from Motion Study.
This close-up of the back of the armrest might work in
an owner’s manual or in situations where mystery and
realism are useful.
As with Figure 3a, this image is realistic but lacks context. That context could be provided by the owner’s
manual, brochure, or website that hosts the image.
This thumbnail is from a video that shows the mannequin “playing” the guitar. The video also shows how
to adjust and locate the armrest, how to adjust the leg
rest, and suggests good posture during performance.
This thumbnail is from a boring animation that shows
the end of the hinge being installed into each slot but
does not explain why.
This thumbnail is from a dancing poser animation that
was created entirely with Solid Works CAD using limit
mates, the Mate Controller, and Motion Study. It has
great realism in textures and rendering. It also was
fairly quick to set up, but rather tedious to position.