3D Roadmapping Sessions: 3D workflow disrupted...

by Dimitri Bobkov

faraday 3d photo montage

3D Photo-Montage by Faraday 3D

A couple of months ago, my dream client came knocking. They’re an established architectural agency, seeking a 3D visualization partner. They wanted to work with me on a large set of private house models, multi-month project - and it was a perfect fit for the services I'm offering.

I was ecstatic. Everything felt great. The client saw value in my services and I wanted to work with them.

As a first step, I proposed a small kickoff project - a 3D Roadmapping Session - to review the outcomes they were looking to achieve and test working together. We scheduled the meeting for later that week.

Then, on the day of the meeting, less than an hour before we were supposed to start, I received an email from them, telling me that they needed to cancel. They wouldn’t be able to afford the project we were discussing or the fee for the 3D Roadmapping Session. They literally had no money in the bank.

Was I disappointed?

No. Because when they canceled that meeting, I could see how much time I would have invested in their project before I learned that they couldn’t afford to work with me. I mean, think about it:

  • We would have gone through a discovery meeting (1-2 hours, unpaid);
  • I would have reviewed their needs, their goals, their architectural blueprints, and all other materials - and put together a proposal (2-3 days, unpaid);
  • We would have had a second meeting to review the proposal and decide if we wanted to move forward (1-2 hours, unpaid).

And then and only then would I have learned that we wouldn’t be working together.

At that moment, I was so glad I had started our relationship off with the 3D Roadmapping Session.

Wait, so what is a 3D Roadmapping Session?

A Roadmapping Session is a strategic, outcome-focused meeting between me and you, where I:

  • Review the intended outcomes for the project;
  • Set expectations for what success looks like, and
  • Identify any potential barriers to achieving success.

At a high level, I'm breaking down the parts of the project and identifying the easiest, most graceful way from where the client(you) currently is - to where you want to be.

As the first part of every project I work on, you and I start off with a meeting where we develop a shared understanding of your goals for the project, define what success looks like to you, and identify the different parts of the project.

There are three major benefits to using 3D Roadmapping Sessions early on:

  1. Before I formally start the project, I understand the business goals behind the project and what you envision as 'success'.
  2. If your expectations are out of scope for the investment you’re willing to make, I can re-calibrate your expectations to match your investment.
  3. I reclaim the unpaid time that I'm investing in discovering your needs and writing proposals.

Do I feel defeated after writing yet another proposal - only to have the client turn it down?

For some consultants, the sales funnel leading into a project can look like this:

  • First contact with the lead
  • Needs Assessment / Qualification
  • Discovery
  • Proposal Writing
  • Client’s Go/No-Go Decision
  • Start Paid Work

That can be a lot of time to invest in a project before I start getting paid. Even if I'm qualifying the client at the start of the project, disclosing my rates, and only moving forward with high-value prospects, I can be investing a day or two...or even more in the case of larger 3D projects before I start getting paid.

From your side of the table, when I start off the relationship with a 3D Roadmapping Session, you can begin your relationship with me at a much lower price tag. Instead of beginning with, say, a $5,000 project, a more affordable 3D Roadmapping Session allows you to see me demonstrate my expertise and insight, review the quality of my work, and experience my methods of communication - all of the main factors that can lower the risk you perceive in working with me.

As an end product of the 3D Roadmapping Session, you receive a report that breaks down exactly what you want to achieve, what success looks like for your business, where you currently are, and the steps that you’ll need to take to move forward with this project.

If either one of us decide, after the 3D Roadmapping Session, that I'm not the right fit, you will have an asset (the 3D Roadmapping Session Report) that you’ll be able to bring to the table with the next consultant you work with to better define the outcomes you’re targeting with the project.

Example of 3D Roadmapping Session Report, Simplified...

Prehistory

One of my clients reached out to me with another project. He had a couple of blueprints for a future office building and he wanted to "know the price for a few 3D renders".

It seemed to me, "pretty easy to calculate the price for such project". But during our 3D Roadmapping Session, I found out what my client truly needed:

  • Visualization of what the new Business Center would look like;
  • Visualization of how the existing site (existing buildings), new Business Center, and enlarged parking area would run together - logistics and street view;
  • Visualization how people can find the site - nearby objects;
  • Advantages of adding additional future buildings volumes for the overview;
  • Visualization of logistics inside the building - lobby, temporary rooms, diner, and other things.

These materials must help to speed up the sales (cash income) and to increase the potential value of the future Business Center. Most people don’t have much imagination, and that's why we have to create a clear picture/visualization that helps everybody understand what will be there, how it fits and runs in a big picture, and the perks it provides if they would have their premises exactly at the client’s site. A client doesn't want his site to be comparable to other older sites…

So as you can see, now we are not facing a small project with a couple of 3D renders, but a rather big project with specific goals…

3D roadmapping session steps

So here's what our team did during 3D Roadmap sessions – yep, this is not one meeting, but a whole bunch of them:

1. Target Audience

We identified the target audience for our client, who will be a consumer of 3D renders. Based on the results we got, we decided on a lighting scheme for future renders:

  • Daylight: it’s a B2B project and used daily based;
  • Night shots: in the country where the client is from, they have quite a long dark period (Wintertime). We have to show how the business runs with additional lighting

2. Photo-montage

Next, to save my client’s budget and fulfill his goals (show nearby objects), we decided the best case would be to make a photo-montage. We helped the client to decide which photos suited him best.

3. Exterior Camera Locations

Next, we did quick sketches of future camera locations and showed what objects will be visible on renders. We made:

  • 4 bird view sketches
  • 2 human height daylight sketches
  • 2 human height sketches at night time

Of course, there were a couple of changes from client-side about camera positions.

4. Colors & Materials

Next, we checked blueprints and found out that colors and materials were missing. We wrote down every missing part and got our answers from the architects.

5. Landscape

After seeing the whole picture, our client understood that the landscape plan should be changed. So, development stopped until we got the correct landscape plan with specific vegetation provided by the city government.

6. Interior Camera Locations

Next, we did 5 sketches of interiors where our client noted that some interiors were not what he really wanted. He noticed this only through seeing our sketches in 3D. Therefore, development stopped again until the architects applied appropriate changes.

7. Interior Design

What our client totally forgot - 3D visualization is NOT a design creation. Before you can start visualizing your interiors, you must know exactly what should be done - and interior design guidelines must be done upfront.

That's why we spend quite a lot of time with a client figuring out what kind of design style will be suitable for a future Business Center:

  • Overall style
  • Color style
  • Furniture style
  • Small details, etc…

Final Thoughts

Only after finishing all of the above steps, we were ready to start visualizing this project. And only now it was possible to set up a fixed price.

At this point, our client has two options: apply all insights we provided to him with another 3D vendor if our closing price is not suitable for him, or continue cooperation taking the fact that he now knows:

  • How our workflow is built
  • How communication works
  • What to expect from us
  • What the result of our work would look like

Let’s not forget that all of the risks above were dispelled for the fraction of a final project price. I think it’s not so bad of a situation if you're just starting cooperation with a new partner…

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