Compact Mirrorless Camera

The TC2 camera is a teaching tool. With it, I’ve taught hundreds of designers and engineers how to make KeyShot renderings.

Project Summary

As Luxion’s Global Training Specialist, I’m fortunate to have trained hundreds of designers. KeyShot allows designers to breathe life into their ideas through photo-realistic rendering. As a trainer, I provide groups with 3D files to practice and learn with while teaching the course. Each 3D file is optimized to teach specific tools within KeyShot. This compact mirrorless camera is the first product I designed as a KeyShot teaching aid in 2016. In late 2018, I decided to make a product animation using this model for fun. 

Project Origin

For each major release of KeyShot, Luxion creates new 3D assets to go with new learning content. For the release of KeyShot 7, I designed and modeled this compact mirrorless camera. The goal was to strike a balance between a technical and relatable product. This project allowed me to focus on refining my top-down modeling skills in Solidworks. 

Inspiration

Keeping students engaged can be a challenge when teaching three consecutive eight-hour days. Luckily, this is not the case when teaching KeyShot to groups of designers or engineers. That said, I wanted to provide attendees with cool models to work with. Using familiar, classic and modern design language for reference, I moved forward with the design phase. Below are some of the images I used as reference.

Planning on Paper

Relying on my industrial design roots, I started to sketch ideas on paper. Traditional SLR cameras tend to be large due to the mechanical mirror assembly inside the camera’s body. A newer digital standard has been established over the past decade. As the name implies, the compact mirrorless camera lacks a mirror assembly and is thus smaller than an SLR.  

Once I was happy with the form, I started to create the basic assembly structure in SolidWorks. 

3D Modeling in Solidworks

To make sure I didn’t waste time, I used basic shapes to represent each part of the camera. Then, using the Solidworks KeyShot plugin, I sent the model to KeyShot for evaluation.

I learned early on that my habits of building multi-body parts would have to go. This project called for a properly-nested assembly structure. I returned to Solidworks to fix the assembly. I repeated this process until the model behaved the way I wanted it to.

After the assembly structure was complete. I spent the next few days detailing each part and refining surfaces. This is my preferred approach to modeling. The assembly structure was complete leaving me free to spend as much time as I had on details.

Creating Graphics and Labels

An important part of learning KeyShot has to do with mastering labels and graphics. The camera would be incomplete and less realistic without graphics. I used Adobe Illustrator to create the graphics for the TC2.

First, I exported orthographic views of the camera model as line art and dropped those into a new Illustrator document. I then created an artboard for each potential graphic. The artboard would encompass the bounds of each part a receiving a label. This makes it easier to place a label relative to a body in KeyShot while retaining scale.

On a new layer, I created the graphics. I always create graphics as white on transparent backgrounds. This offers the most flexibility in KeyShot and lets me recycle textures.

I designed a fictional user interface around a creative commons photo I found on unsplash.com. I used a simple trick to space out the numbers that wrap around the lens. Using the circumference of the lens, I created an artboard with the same dimensions. This way, I could center and space the numbers and allow the negative space on either side to remain blank. The label wraps 360-degrees around the lens without stretching my numbers.

I also label each artboard in Adobe Illustrator to keep track of which graphic is on each artboard. Finally, I turned off the reference layer and exported the artboards as PNG files.

Material Creation

This compact mirrorless camera design features a unique finish. It appears to have a satin, brushed, anodized black aluminum finish. I achieved this by using KeyShot’s plastic material. The trick is to use a higher index of refraction to make it look more metallic. Then, I place the brush texture onto the specular and bump channels.

Imperfections like dust, scratches, finger oils and such add a touch of realism (I hope). They’re added using the material graph along with several texture maps. A couple dust and smudges textures from Poliigon.com were used. 

Animating and Rendering in KeyShot

I animated the compact mirrorless camera in KeyShot using my typical approach. Being all about efficiency, I blocked in the major movements of the product. Then, I dialed in the timing of each movement. After I was happy with that, I worked in the little details that make the animation a bit more dynamic.

After determining what render settings would be appropriate, I rendered out frames. The stills that KeyShot produced were then imported into Adobe Premiere Pro. This is my preferred editing software. I tend to do very basic video editing and Premiere has the tools I need. It gives me the ability to add titles, fades, music and control the export and encode process.

Adding Audio

I think the soundtrack to a film sets the tone and can either break or make the film. For this animation, I wanted some epic soundtrack. The TC2 was being treated like a spaceship during the animation, so I thought it would be fun to find someone to collaborate with on the sound. A mutual friend introduced me to Zac Schmidt and Marcus Bagala.

After sending the first edit to Marcus and Zac, Marcus sent back a score. Immediately, I was excited because he seemed to capture the mood perfectly. Next, Zac worked his magic, layering in sound effects and details that helped enhance the movements within the animation.

I’m fortunate to have worked with both Marcus and Zac on this piece because they really brought it to life with with their sound. 

Project Outcome

The compact mirrorless camera has allowed me to teach many people how to create high-end renderings with KeyShot. Going through the process of concept, form exploration, 3D modeling and rendering was a fun way to flex my product design muscles.

Providing the KeyShot trainees with a familiar form and product often inspires them to make realistic renderings. 

Ownership

I created this model and these animations for Luxion with Luxion resources. Luxion, Inc owns this data and intellectual property. I just want to share my process with you here as part of my design portfolio. Thanks for looking.

Credits