Melanie McCann is the in-house event graphic designer from metroConnections. In more than eight years with metroConnections, Melanie has developed and created renderings of trade show booths and displays, production stage sets, props and event décor elements. Responsible for many aspects of the creative process at metroConnections, Melanie also designs conference logos, branded elements, directional signage and print materials as well as Prezi and PowerPoint Presentations. She graduated with a BS degree from the University of Minnesota and completed an Advanced Graphic Design program through Sessions College for Professional Design. www.metroconnections.com
Today, renderings are used to give us a proposed feel for everything from kitchen redesigns to custom running shoes. But did you know they are also being used in the early planning process for events to help clients visualize their attendee experience? From artist drawings to computer-aided designs, renderings enable event planners to communicate their ideas through rendered photorealistic images. Not only does a rendering give clients a preview of their event with realistic images, but it also can help pinpoint challenges early on, allowing for cost-effective adjustments and refinements before the actual event experience is developed.
What is a rendering?
A rendering is a life-like visual representation of a conceptualized item or idea, or a prospective alteration of an existing item or space. Typically created using software programs such as AutoCAD, SketchUp, Photoshop or Illustrator, renderings provide 2-D or 3-D realistic images that illustrate proposed attributes of a design.
Tip: To accurately communicate the proposed idea, all items and displays in the renderings should be made to scale.
What’s the point?
In the meeting and event planning industry, a rendering is developed so that all involved in the planning process can visualize the intended outcome. From showing off the visuals of an event to conceptualizing seating arrangements, renderings not only leave the guesswork out of event planning, but they also are used to manage expectations and clarify direction.
Tip: Often to accomplish this goal, several renderings are required from different viewpoints.
When should it be created?
Once a theme or concept has been initially decided and the location or area size is known, a rendering should be created. In many cases, the rendering is created when the event idea is being “pitched” or is still in the planning stage. Perfecting the concept on paper gives the entire team confidence and clear direction on how to execute the concept in reality. Most renderings are edited multiple times before an image is created so that it satisfies the entire team.
Tip: It’s much easier to scale something up or down in a software program than in the actual workshop.
Who is responsible for creating it?
Ideally, a design professional who can work closely with the entire creative team to understand the vision should be in charge of the rendering creation. It’s essential that the rendering designer has a solid plan to execute the concept on paper into the finished product. When a company works with a design house to produce a rendering without engaging the team who will actually build or produce the final product there often is a disconnect when it comes time to construct the concept.
Tip: Working with a team that has both design and execution capabilities allows for the rendering to be realistic in terms of what can be executed and keeping within a set budget.
What should be included in the rendering?
Professional event renderings should include how the seating will work, aisle space, stage viewpoints and decorations. The rendering also should outline and depict real-life elements such as colors, materials, lighting and shadows. It should be true to scale and represent the accurate dimensions of the items rendered and the setting around it. Most important, it should be as accurate as possible as to what will be created in reality with as much detail as possible and comply with the laws of physics.
Tip: Detailed renderings not only help in setup, but they can help build excitement for the big event.
How else are renderings used?
Renderings also are a good way to identify preferences that may not be identified in a traditional planning process. For example, a client may not express a preference related to colors or design styles for a room or backdrop until they see the visual. Seeing a visual representation of the event plan often triggers the client to address brand standard compliance and overall designs before it’s too late or too costly to make edits. In such cases, renderings can assist planners in making informed decisions and edits before the program and in some cases it allows them to really hone in on a certain concept or theme that would have been an afterthought until they see it in the rendering and then they decide to highlight that piece.
Should a rendering be used for all events?
Not necessarily. Since the rendering is a communication tool, it may or may not be a necessary step. Sometimes you can paint the portrait with words alone, however a picture typically proves helpful in ensuring clarity and identifying expectations.
What information should be provided to the person creating the rendering to ensure they can create a solid representation?
Providing precise sizing and scale information as well as direction for the general theme, look and feel is essential for building a good rendering. Other helpful elements include brand standards and desired materials. Budget parameters also should be provided.
An example of how a rendering really helped the creative process.
MetroConnections was tasked with building a trade show booth for Capital Safety to model their new Nano-Lok edge equipment (fall prevention). The initial idea was to put TV screens on the floor and background, but after the rendering was complete, the team discovered the TV screens might get stepped on resulting in the team changing the configuration of the booth. The rendering process as shown in FIGURE 1 proved extremely useful for this project.
As shown in FIGURE 2, another example is a stage rendering created for the FMP Shifting Gears Conference. The meeting team was struggling with finding the right visual representation for the implied movement of the conference theme tag line, and they didn’t want it to appear too literal. The rendering process enabled metroConnections to narrow the scope of the theme and allowed the team to experiment with arrows and chevrons. The solution was the literal gears. The client loved it after they saw the rendering and took the rendering to reality.
More tips for success.
There is a delicate balance from rendering to reality. Although renderings have proven extremely useful in many cases, if expectations aren’t managed accurately, concepts and details can get lost in the translation from 2-D to the real world. Understanding that a rendering is a visual proposal, not a finished product, will prevent disappointment in clients who took the concept too literally. On the other hand, a client who forces the event design team to stick to a stringent set of details can block creative progress. C&IT