User Focus
Issue: Volume: 28 Issue: 5 (May 2005)

User Focus

How does a corporate vendor show facts and figures using a PowerPoint presentation and still capture the audience’s attention amid the “eye candy” at a large industry trade show?

That was the dilemma facing Acura, Honda Motor Company’s luxury car division, at the Detroit Auto Show a few months ago. There, automobile designers displayed their latest designs and concepts, hoping to make a positive impression on the world press covering the event. Acura, touting technology innovation in its cars, wanted to reinforce this image while presenting itself and its ideas. To this end, the manufacturer requested that its events agency, Martin Brinkerhoff Associates (MBA), help “supe up” its media presentation.

MBA met this challenge by supplementing Acura’s PowerPoint screens with high-def 3D imagery and video. Using Instant Effects’ OfficeFX Professional presentation application, the agency merged dynamic 3D animated backgrounds and 2D type with pre-shot product video and live speaker video, which were all projected onto a large screen.

“This capability allowed us to have an animated background behind what is typically a static presentation,” says Ruthm Gillman, MBA art director. “Most of the images, naturally, were of the vehicles, but we also placed logos and photos of people and buildings, which when blended with the 3D backgrounds gave the content a broadcast look, with its constant motion.”

MBA created the 3D images in-house with Autodesk Media and Entertainment’s 3ds max and imported them into OfficeFX Professional. When creating the PowerPoint slides, the MBA team added JPG files in the usual manner, but by also using soft-edged, semi-transparent PNG files, was able to merge the still imagery with a moving background.

While the HD graphics and video were more compelling than SD imagery, the large file sizes required the use of desktop workstations rather than laptops. “I don’t know if this presentation gave the company a leg up on the competition,” says Gillman, “but it made the graphics interesting.” -KM