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How CGI Unlocks Cost Effective Digital Ads

In digital marketing, the shift towards CGI technology is reshaping how brands create and deliver content across various media platforms. As budgets become more constrained, many companies are choosing to forgo expensive, large-scale live-action shoots in favor of CGI, or computer-generated imagery. 

This approach not only stretches limited budgets but also produces content that, while perhaps not high-quality enough for a movie screen, is perfect for video streaming platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram where ads perform better.

Understanding CG, CGI, and 3D 

Before delving deeper, let’s define the terms we’re talking about:

  • CG (Computer Graphics): This broad term encompasses all forms of computer-generated visual content, whether static or animated. CG encompasses a significant part of what we see as 3D graphics in video games, films, and television.
  • CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery): A subset of CG, CGI specifically refers to dynamic, animated visuals created using computer software, often seen in movies, games, and advertisements.
  • 3D Animation: This involves creating objects and scenes in three-dimensional space, which can be rotated and moved like real objects. 3D animation is often used in CGI to create highly detailed and lifelike animations.
  • Live Action: Live-action involves filming with real actors, cameras, and physical sets/props. That being said, the real world implications of live-action limits available locations, actors, and physical elements that can be captured on camera.


CGI vs Live Action

As mentioned, increasingly, brands have a choice between CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) and live-action when it comes to producing dynamic advertising campaigns. 

On the one hand, live-action, which leverages real actors, sets, and locations, offers a tangible realism that can deeply resonate with the human experience. However, live action shoots can be expensive and constrained by physical and logistical challenges such as weather, location permits, and actor availability.  

On the other hand, CGI breaks free from the constraints of the physical world, granting creators the ultimate creative liberty. With CGI, the only limits are those of imagination and technical capability. This freedom allows for the creation of expansive, fantastical worlds and characters that could never exist in reality—think of soaring dragons or futuristic cities. Moreover, CGI can be more cost-effective and logistically simpler, eliminating the need for expensive shooting locations, large crews, and elaborate sets. It also offers significant post-production flexibility, as digital assets can be edited or repurposed with ease, unlike footage captured during a live-action shoot.

Benefits of CGI Over Live Action

CGI offers several advantages over traditional live-action shoots:

  • Cost Efficiency: CGI can be more budget-friendly, eliminating the need for costly sets, locations, and large crews.
  • Creative Flexibility: Unbound by physical constraints, CGI allows for limitless creativity, making anything imaginable possible to visualize in ads.
  • Time Efficiency: Changes and iterations can be made quickly without the need to reshoot scenes, providing greater flexibility during the post-production process.
  • Consistency and Control: CGI ensures a high level of control over every aspect of the scene, from lighting to the environment, maintaining consistency across all visuals.
  • Optimized for Streaming: CGI efficiently scales ad production for platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, where the quality demands are different from those of cinema screens.
  • High Performance on Social Media: CGI-created content is tailored for lower resolution screens and casual viewing environments, often resulting in higher engagement and effectiveness on social media platforms compared to more costly live-action productions.
  • Rapid Deployment: The digital nature of CGI allows for quick adaptations and deployments across various platforms, ensuring that campaigns can be launched and modified in real time based on viewer feedback and engagement metrics.

Showcasing Success Through CGI

Several brands have successfully harnessed the power of CGI to create impactful advertising campaigns. In fact, many brands and advertisers turned to CGI during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person production was not feasible.

For example, both Esperion and Brave Bison turned to CGI and animation during the COVID-19 pandemic when traditional shoots were impractical. Esperion introduced their drug Nexletol with CGI elements to creatively bypass the absence of suitable stock footage. Similarly, Brave Bison employed animation techniques like stop-motion to maintain content production when live-action filming options were limited.

Following lockdown and renewed accessibility of live-action production, brands have continued leveraging CGI technologies to create visually-stunning ads featuring CGI-generated elements. This includes L'Oréal which used CGI to create an ad campaign showing a trail of red lipstick "painting" the streets of Paris. Or, Coca-Cola’s "Happiness Factory" ad which employed CGI to bring to life an imaginative, fantastical world inside a vending machine. 

These use cases highlight how CGI not only serves as a practical solution during logistical constraints but also as a strategic creative tool to captivate audiences effectively on digital platforms.

Cost-Effective CGI Solutions: Unreal Engine

As advertisers increasingly leverage CGI, new technologies like Unreal Engine have emerged to make CGI content creation more accessible and cost-effective. Unreal Engine, known for its high fidelity and real-time rendering capabilities, enables advertisers to produce cinematic-quality visuals without the tremendous costs traditionally associated with such high levels of production. This technology not only democratizes the creation of visually stunning ads but also significantly reduces turnaround times. By utilizing Unreal Engine, brands can efficiently scale their CGI production for platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, where the engaging, high-quality content has proven to perform exceptionally well. This shift is particularly advantageous for brands aiming to stand out in the competitive digital landscape, as it allows for the creation of immersive, interactive ads that captivate and engage audiences at a fraction of the cost of traditional live-action productions.

TL;DR: Embracing CGI in Digital Marketing

Embracing CGI allows marketers to produce visually engaging ads that are not only cost-effective but also tailored for the digital age, where the visual quality demands of streaming platforms can be met without the extravagant costs of live shoots. What’s more, technologies like Unreal Engine are revolutionizing the field by enabling the creation of cinematic-quality visuals at a fraction of the traditional cost and time. 

  • Cost-effective Solutions: CGI minimizes the financial burdens of set construction, location fees, and large crew logistics, enabling better budget management.
  • Creative Liberation: Freed from the physical limitations of live action, CGI empowers marketers to bring any vision to life, from surreal landscapes to futuristic tech.
  • Optimal for Digital Consumption: Content created with CGI is ideal for platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, offering quality that is perfectly suited for less demanding digital screens.
  • Enhanced Engagement: CGI can lead to higher engagement rates on digital platforms, where dynamic and visually rich content captures more viewer attention.
  • Quick Adaptation: With tools like Unreal Engine, updates and changes to CGI can be implemented rapidly and efficiently, allowing for agile marketing responses to consumer feedback and market trends.

Unlock the Power of CGI in Your Advertising

If you’re looking to harness the innovative capabilities of CGI to push your advertising strategies forward, the CRAFTSMAN+ team is here for you. Leverage our cutting-edge technology and creative expertise to produce compelling, visually stunning advertisements that resonate in today’s digital-first world.