Thule: Heightening the Customer Experience

Lightmap caught up with Thule’s resident 3D artist, Norbert Nagel, who witnessed the benefits of our software firsthand at the Total Chaos event in Bulgaria earlier on this year and recommended Thule add our software to their 3D pipeline.

norbert-new

After attending a talk on HDR Light Studio at Total Chaos 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria, Norbert headed back to Sweden impressed and inquisitive to how our innovative lighting software could help Thule’s aim of promoting and simplifying the task of assembling their outdoor products.

Working within a small team in Hillerstorp, just outside of Gothenburg, Sweden, Norbert heads up the 3D department prized with the aim of creating content for advertising and safety. A native of Germany, Norbert was instantly impressed with HDR Light Studio’s efficiency.

”I am always looking for ways to enhance my workflow and after seeing HDR Light Studio’s talk at Total Chaos, I was instantly convinced that this piece of software could significantly reduce the amount of time I spent on certain tasks.”

”For certain projects, I have to simply match the lighting of my scenes which are then used in tutorials. However, as the CGI material I use is delivered by an external agency, trying to set up lights to match that material is very painful to replicate. But by using HDR Light Studio, I am able to load my model and scene, paint the reflections to match the provided material and it results in a near to perfect match as you can get. This more efficient intuitive way of working has certainly been a game changer.”

One product in material Norbert enjoyed using HDR Light Studio on was the Thule Helium Platform, a hitch-mounted bike carrier that holds the user’s bikes in place without any contact with the frame. Although only a prototype, for now, the product has been viewed as the next big thing stateside.

” I started off the project by converting my CAD object into something I could work with (poly-based) and then texturised it within 3ds Max because I love its versatility. I have created a material library for the most used materials here at Thule to help speed up the process and then transferred the object via 3ds Max to HDR Light Studio.”

bike-thingamagig

”Once in HDR Light Studio, I painted reflections on the object and put a ground light and a top light into the mix. After that, I rendered my HDRI-Texture and used it to light the whole scene via a V-Ray dome light. I love the look of the rendered images in V-Ray as it gives me great control with its own framebuffer and a lot of compositing options, and finally, I use After Effects.”

”Creating these images would have previously been a very timely process, however, with the help of HDR Light Studio, I was able to reduce my work time from 6 hours to 15 minutes, with a nice added bonus of significantly lower render-time because I only used one light source and not several like before.”

Easy Fold XT3

Safety is the key in all of Thule’s videos; they seek to develop new and innovative ways as a manufacturer to keep their users safe in order to heighten the customer experience. As Norbert describes, it isn’t about simply delivering the best product and leaving a user to their own devices, but providing each and every customer with the right guidance to get the most out of their purchase in a safe and easy manner.

”The intended purpose of the videos is to instruct the customer how to install the roof racks correctly and most importantly, safely. If we succeed the customer is able to install the rack on his/her car without any questions or difficulties. By using animated videos we are able to explain certain processes a lot better through movement, for example: how do you place exactly the foot of the rack on the roof of your car without damaging anything. Simple ideas but dangerous tasks if done incorrectly.”

Thanks to Nobert and Thule for sharing your project with us. View more of Thule’s products on their website or check out Norbert’s portfolio.

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About Stacey Winter

As a First-Class Journalism graduate, Stacey Winter's role within Customer Engagement is to provide great service with a personal touch. Possessing a variety of strings to her bow, Stacey contributes to our social channels and blog, helping to shine a light on the diverse art our software helps create. When she is not working, Stacey is either with her dogs, dreaming of Canada, or supporting the mighty Nottingham Forest.