03/09/2008 - 22:00

Getting a new perspective

03/09/2008 - 22:00

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Two years ago, Western Australia's property boom allowed developers to adopt a 'build it, and they will come' attitude when it came to new projects, with very little money, if any, spent on marketing.

REALISM: Rick Grisby says property developers are using more realistic 3D \'fly-through\' animation to sell their projects.

Two years ago, Western Australia's property boom allowed developers to adopt a 'build it, and they will come' attitude when it came to new projects, with very little money, if any, spent on marketing.

But a weakening residential sector and a surge in commercial office construction have led to an increase in developers' use of 3D animation graphics, or 'fly-throughs', in order to find buyers and tenants.

Mount Hawthorn-based marketing and graphic design firm, Campaign Focus, set up its architectural animation studio, Pixel Focus, about 15 months ago, to capitalise on the growing demand for 3D graphics in property marketing.

Since then, the business has secured several major clients, including Westralia Airports, which is marketing its office development at Perth Airport.

It has also produced fly-through animations for a number of apartment projects, including Saracen Properties' 18 The Esplanade, before the project was switched to an office development, and Watersun Property's Northbank project in Fremantle.

Pixel Focus founder Spiro Politis said that, while these made up the biggest share of fly-through requests, there was strong growth from the commercial office market, including suburban projects, which required a tenant pre-commitment to obtain finance.

"About 85 per cent of fly-throughs had been residential, but now the commercial clients are jumping on the bandwagon because they're realising they need to [in order to attract tenants]," he said.

"Selling a project quicker [in this market] is worth a lot to a developer."

Mr Politis said most developments worth more than $10 million were using fly-through animations, with prices ranging from about $50,000 to $100,000.

He said the firm was deliberately pitching at the high end of the market, and was yet to undertake any direct marketing itself, relying on word-of-mouth referrals from selling agents and clients.

The strategy has worked to date, with Pixel Focus doubling its revenue in the six months to May, and forecasting revenue to double again over the next six months.

As the market for 3D animation has broadened, clients have requested a higher level of detail in the artwork used.

Perth-based Last Pixel director Rick Grigsby, whose agency has been operating for about four and a half years, said there was a push for animations to be much more accurate in their representation of a building, to display internal textures and finishes as well as the general layout.

Mr Grigsby said this was because fly-through animations were increasingly providing the basis for a sale.

"The developers want the fly-throughs to show their apartments as accurately as possible, because they're using them more as a primary point of marketing, rather than a back-up tool," he said.

Mr Grigsby said developers were using fly-through animations to pre-commit tenants for commercial and retail projects, and were spending more as a result.

Sunil Kumar, WA manager of Sydney-headquartered Idrawfast International, said this translated to more interactive graphics, where viewers could stop and zoom in on certain features.

"There's a lot of interest in that interactive, customised design, because it captures the interest of the buyer and differentiates the developer [from their competitors]," he said.

While a few new players have entered the graphic animation market, there has been growing competition from within the architectural industry as well.

"We're finding the biggest competition we have is from the architects themselves, doing internal graphics. Often they'll come to us after they've had council approval for projects, to redo some graphics, but we're seeing more architects build their own graphic design team," Mr Grigsby said.

"The trend is mostly driven by the need for a fast turnaround on graphics."

Last Pixel has a staff of 18, including 10 graphic design and 3D artists, and one architect.

Its clients include several government agencies, such as the East Perth Redevelopment Authority, as well as international clients in Dubai and the Middle East.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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