Yamamoto brings 3D in-house with Adobe Substance 3D Stager

People looking at a computer using Adobe Substance 3D Stager.

As 3D artwork becomes more commonplace and accessible, brands increasingly want 3D assets as part of their marketing, media, and brand design. With 3D assets, brands can give customers 360-degree views of products, create attractive marketing with virtual photoshoots, and add modern graphical feel to visuals.

For some traditional 2D artists, the shift in customer expectations has been challenging. But for the creatives at Yamamoto, it has represented an exciting opportunity for innovation.

Yamamoto, part of Stagwell, Inc., is a full-service creative agency that reinvents, elevates, and amplifies brands. For more than 40 years, Yamamoto has worked with clients to take risks, disrupt narratives, and amplify brand voices.

“Yamamoto is an agency that really encourages artists like myself to learn and grow,” says Stephanie Hiatt, Mac artist supervisor at Yamamoto. “Most of us have gotten opportunities to develop exciting new skills, going from graphic designers and artists to animators and video editors.”

When Yamamoto first started receiving requests for 3D artwork, the company turned to external agencies for support. While its in-house artists and designers were experts in many types of artwork —using Adobe Creative Cloud apps such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe After Effects daily — 3D apps seemed much more technical, complicated, and intimidating. That changed when Yamamoto artists saw Adobe Substance 3D Stager at Adobe MAX.

“We had one video editor who knew how to use Cinema 4D to manipulate 3D models so that we could incorporate them into client visuals, but there was no way to scale that service,” says Justin Schraff, senior Mac artist at Yamamoto. “With Adobe Substance 3D Stager, it was like night and day. It’s so easy and intuitive. If you’ve been in other Adobe apps like Photoshop or Illustrator, then you already have an idea of how you can use Adobe Substance 3D Stager.”

Bringing more value to clients with in-house creatives

Yamamoto was already working with 3D models to create product shots and packaging for its work for Cargill, particularly its animal nutrition products. Cargill created a standard look for its packaging in print and online assets based around 3D models. While Yamamoto had access to the original 3D models, the problem came when Cargill wanted to make changes to the packaging design. Yamamoto designers could adjust the skin using Adobe Photoshop, but then the design team had two choices for finalizing the mockup: pay an outside vendor to reskin the 3D model, or create high-resolution mockups in Photoshop that showed the packaging from all standard angles.

3D model of product shots and packaging.

For the latest packaging update to Cargill's ProElite Horse Feed, Yamamoto used Substance 3D Stager to make the changes in-house. Schraff imported the base 3D model for the ProElite feed bag into Substance 3D Stager and re-skinned it using the Adobe Photoshop artwork with a few clicks. He then used Substance 3D Stager to match the camera angles, lighting, and style of the image to achieve the standard Cargill branded look.

3D model of product shots and packaging.

“I liked the ability to sync up with Photoshop,” says Schraff. “Sometimes I’d see the skin in Stager and realize that I need to make a little tweak to get the skin to line up perfectly. The ability to hop over to Photoshop — a program that I’m very comfortable with — to make the change and then switch right back to Stager made a huge difference.”

Doing the work in-house saved the agency budget on their first project. This also enabled them to create content at scale, delivering multiple product shots and ad sizes for use in media placements and marketing. Yamamoto now feels confident handling a larger volume of technically advanced creative services for Cargill without handing the client’s budget off to an outside vendor.

New avenues for ROI

Just months after starting to work with Substance 3D Stager, the agency has the confidence to start offering new services and taking on new clients. This has led to strong returns on the 3D investment in just the first year of adoption.

“The support we’ve gotten from Adobe has been phenomenal,” adds Hiatt. “We’re so new to 3D that we still had questions along the way. Adobe is always there — either through tutorials or questions to Adobe experts — to show us the best way to get things done.”

As the agency of record for Analog Devices, a world leader in technology solutions, Yamamoto always looks for new ways to propel the brand forward. One of the company’s ad campaigns explores ways technology can solve global challenges by posing a simple question: What If? More than just a line of copy, Yamamoto wanted to make this “What If” question stand out, to amplify the message visually. Rather than adding flat text over the ads’ hero images, the design team decided to use 3D type blended into the image. Doing this work in-house was much more cost-effective and allowed the design team flexibility and the chance to play around with different options within the same production timeline. This also enabled them to create content at scale, delivering multiple product shots and ad sizes for use in media placements and marketing.

What If image Exploring Space.

Typically, Yamamoto would start with rough mockups created in InDesign. Then, designers would hand the design over to a 3D vendor to create the right assets. Not only would this process take more time, but it also opened the doors for more miscommunication and back-and-forth between Yamamoto and its vendor.

By bringing 3D work in-house with Substance 3D Stager, designers created mockups in hours. They could easily adjust assets throughout the approval process, creating more iterations with ease and delivering high-quality artwork for the customer more efficiently than they could before.

What If image of a car with information on sustainability.

Working with customizable 3D also allowed Yamamoto to support Analog Devices with localizations at scale. Using the same layout, Yamamoto switched out the copy with different language versions. The 3D type blended into the images just as seamlessly in any language, allowing them to provide expanded services to customers in a fraction of the time compared to recreating images from scratch or working with outside vendors.

“Yamamoto has a very open, can-do attitude that encourages you to expand your own personal horizons and keep everything within the agency,” says Robert Newton, senior Mac artist at Yamamoto. “Adobe Substance 3D Stager helps us explore and discover new business opportunities. I’m not a 3D expert by any means, but here I am a few months later creating work with 3D elements. It can be done.”