CGI Photography vs Traditional Photography

CGI Photography

In today’s highly competitive business world, companies constantly search for new ways to gain an edge over their rivals. One area that has seen significant advancements in recent years is product photography.

With the rise of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) product photography, companies can now create photorealistic and customizable product images that are more effective at engaging customers and driving sales.

CGI product photography has emerged as a game-changer in the world for online sellers. This technology has revolutionized how products are showcased and presented to consumers for over a decade.

In essence, CGI product photography involves using computer-generated images to create lifelike representations of products for use in advertising and other marketing campaigns.

The trend towards CGI product photography has been fueled by the desire of companies to gain a competitive edge in their respective markets. With CGI photography, products can be presented in highly realistic settings that showcase their features and benefits in ways that traditional photography cannot.

One company that has fully embraced this trend is IKEA, with a staggering 75% of its website products being designed with CGI.

CGI product photography has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. Firstly, it allows for greater flexibility and control over the final product image, as adjustments can be made easily without the need for costly reshoots.

Additionally, CGI can be used to create product visuals that are impossible to achieve with traditional photography, such as showing products at a certain angle.

With its advanced features, flexibility, and cost-saving benefits, it’s no wonder more companies are shifting from traditional photography to CGI.

If you want to take your product photography to the next level, CGI product photography is worth exploring.

What is CGI Product Photography?

CGI product photography is a technique of creating product visuals using computer graphics. The photographs created using CGI are photoreal, cost-effective and can be scaled quickly as per the requirements.

Due to the advancement in CGI technology, it creates photoreal visual content of products for online listing or advertising, which helps enhance customer experience and increase their online store conversion rate.

Moreover, it enables the creation of all form factors of product content, such as  create white background images, 360 product spins or 360 photography, lifestyle images or contextual images, inspirational images, videos, product animations, product films and also forms the base for virtual and augmented reality applications that can be used as effective buying experiences for end consumers. 

All this helps end consumers get a more accurate view of the product, enabling them to make better purchase decisions. For online sellers and marketers, it helps reduce the product return rate due to expectation management.

Unlike traditional photography, CGI photography doesn’t require physical products and building costly physical environments; hence, it is a cheaper and faster method for producing product photography at scale.

Some online sellers use CGI photography to advertise their products even before they are developed. These pre-launch campaigns help them check if there is a demand for the product before investing a huge sum of money. 

The CGI technology is now matured and leveraged by businesses/online sellers/marketers across the globe for creating product images at scale. 

Established retailers such as IKEA, Lowe’s Home Improvements, and Target Retail, are already using CGI photography to create photorealistic images for selling products.

CGI Product Photography Examples

Unlike traditional photography, CGI product photography has no weather constraint, light constraint, or chance of the photo getting blurred.

In short, these are key reasons why marketers are shifting to CGI from traditional photography for their requirements for product images:

  • Better quality images
  • High scalability
  • Shorter go-to-market period
  • Cost-effective
  • High customization and flexibility
  • More convenience
  • Enables Pre-order business

You can use CGI product photography for social media posts, brochures, flyers, hoardings, magazines, etc.

Advantages of CGI Product Photography

CGI is an excellent marketing tool for businesses. It enables you to easily create 360 product spins, lifestyle images, videos, AR/VR experiences, etc. This helps provide your customers with an understanding of the minute product details. 

1. Cost-Effective Product Visuals for Marketing

CGI Product Photography Examples

Some of the reason which makes CGI product photography cost-effective are:

  • Shipping & warehousing cost- As no physical product is required for creating visual content with CGI, you don’t have to ship or store product at warehouses for getting their images and other creative content. This saves shipping and warehousing costs.
  • No damages during shipping: Photographs created by CGI require only some images of your product with their dimensions. You don’t have to ship products from the warehouse to any studio, and this eliminates the risk of damage during shipping. 
CGI Product Photography Examples
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Eliminates duplication of effort for creating visual contents of product variants: CGI is advantageous in designing not only one product but different variants of the same product together. It is easy to add styles, colors, textures, and features to the original product to get visuals of its variants. This reduces the time, money and effort required to get variants visuals from scratch.
CGI vs Traditional Photography Effort Required
  • Content variations- Consumers look for contextual/lifestyle images that are likely to mimic their own home so it is easier for them to visualise and make a purchase decision. CGI product photography can create lifestyle images of the same product by placing them in different virtual sets and styles to connect with a a diverse target market. 
  • No physical setup needed: There is no requirement for expensive sets for product photoshoots for CGI photography, as all the environments are digitally created. The cost of creating virtual sets is but a fraction of the cost of hiring a physical location and setting up for a shoot. In the long run, virtual sets are reusable across product categories, new product launches etc.. unlike physical sets, they can be reused year after year. Further, you can easily change the products or environment in CGI photography without worrying about the exorbitant set-up costs compared with the traditional photo shoot.
CGI Product Photography Examples

For example, it costs ~$1.8  million to get photographs of 300 outdoor furniture SKUs using traditional photography. But the same will cost you approximately only $400k when you opt for CGI photography. 

2. High-Quality Product Visuals

High-quality product visual contents are possible in CGI photography.

  • More creative freedom: CGI product photography enables more creative freedom to build larger and richer sets with more variety in propping, lighting and environment. 
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • More control over output: since all parameters are virtually created and controlled through mouse clicks, it allows for more control on the end output. For e.g. an outdoor set which requires an afternoon shoot as well as a dusk shot, the crew would actually need to complete the noon shot and wait for dusk lighting in order to complete the dusk shot. CGI photography would enable lighting change at the click of a button. It would also enable multiple lighting scenarios that you could choose from. 
  • Standardization across content: a well-rounded and experienced CGI product photography vendor would use a standard set of virtual templates, props, lighting and camera angles across product categories in a uniform manner. These virtual templates are created at the start of the process in alignment with brand guidelines of the seller. When images are published across channels they all appear to be standardised as they have all been created using the same components. 
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Intricate designs and materials: CGI product photography helps showcase products’  unique features and details. For example, it can show the cut and clarity of diamonds or the intricate design of the setting of any jewelry product. This helps showcase the quality and craftsmanship of the jewelry and help customers feel more confident in their purchasing decision.
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Clear and sharp images: Blurring happens in traditional photography due to reasons such as camera movement, low or poor lighting conditions, or inaccurate camera settings. 
    In contrast, product images created using CGI are consistent in terms of lightning, color and angle because the images are created in a controlled digital environment where every aspect of the image can be accurately controlled. Besides lighting, CGI product photography gives more control over color and angles. 
  • Easy fine-tuning: The CGI process allows adjusting and fine-tuning product images to ensure that they are clear, sharp, and focused. This is unlike traditional photography, where there are limitations during editing and sometimes, re-shooting may be required.

3. Faster Time-to-Market

  • Shipping time of physical product can be avoided : Shipping of a product from different parts of the country/world can take weeks or months. CGI product photography requires only simple reference images of the product, thereby cutting cycle time by weeks/months at the very start of the process.
  • Reusable 3D models: Once the 3D product model is created, it can be used for various purposes from creating white backgrounds image to product lifestyle images to videos to AR/VR experiences. 
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Don’t require setting up comprehensive photoshoot environments: Gone are the days when products used to get photographed for the entire day and further used get edited in another couple of days. 
    CGI photography is done in controlled digital environments that don’t require setting up comprehensive photoshoot environments, which take a lot of time and effort. 
    As CGI photography doesn’t require physical products and is created using computer graphics, it is a much faster way of creating images at scale. Also, you don’t have to worry about setting up the physical environment, lights or other effects required in traditional photography. 
    You only have to inform the CGI team about your product specifications; they will do the rest in no time with jaw-dropping results.
  • Product visuals for all purposes: The product images created by CGI can be used for various purposes, such as website listings, eCommerce stores, social media campaigns, online advertising, product catalogue, and print advisements.  This helps to do marketing across multiple channels quickly.
    In CGI photography, once the 3D models are created, rendering the images is relatively fast and easy compared to traditional photography, which requires numerous steps such as development, editing, and retouching.

4. Hassle-Free and Convenient

  • No Dependency on Weather: CGI photography is done in a digitally controlled environment and is not at the mercy of weather conditions. This eliminates the hassle of waiting for the right weather and saves much time and effort required compared to traditional photography.
  • Remote: CGI photography can be done remotely. There is no requirement to visit or send the products anywhere. At HOBB, all we need is a few inputs.
Inputs for CGI visual content

You can remotely connect and collaborate with us from the requirement phase till you get the final images. This helps us speed up the workflows and turnaround time.

Here is how the whole process looks like:

CGI Process

Which Industries Benefit the Most From CGI Product Photography?

CGI could be the game-changer for industries that sell their products through compelling images or videos focusing on the creative portrayal of product features, attractive backgrounds, and perfect finesse.

With CGI photography, marketers can explore different ways to showcase products that would not be possible with traditional photography. 

Let’s look at major industries that can benefit from CGI product photography.

  • Furniture: Due to the bulky nature of furniture products, it becomes difficult to carry and requires large space in traditional photography. CGI photography enables furniture sellers to get high-quality product visuals without having the hassle of shipping products. 
    In furniture photography, showing materials—from wood and metal to leather and fabric—is challenging. CGI photography makes it easier to show the texture and fabrics of furniture products accurately.
    Additionally, CGI also helps create product lifestyle images, 360-degree spins and enables AR/VR customer’s experiences easily.
    Product lifestyle images lifestyle images enables the furniture sellers to showcase the product in different environments so that customers can get a look and feel of the product in their home. This helps increase the conversion rate and reduce the risk of the product return.
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Consumer Electronics: CGI photographs are photoreal, and it is very simple to showcase the features and minute details of electronic items using CGI photography. 
    Further, sellers can display products in action on their websites, marketplaces, and advertisements. This helps customers to get a complete idea about product features and quality to make thoughtful purchase decisions. 
    Electronic products, like headsets or mobile phones, often have metallic surfaces reflecting light, making it difficult to shoot their photos. CGI has a very good use case here as you can control light and show the minute details of the product that get missed while shooting with the camera. 
    Also, sometimes showing their features and function is difficult due to their small size. Sometimes, some angles may not be possible with camera for such products, for example, a microSD card. With CGI, getting clear and sharp images is relatively much easier. 
CGI Product Photography Examples
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Cosmetics: eCommerce has undoubtedly given the cosmetics industry an edge by expanding business globally. 
    The general issues during cosmetics photography are due to: 
  • Shining surfaces: Metallic reflecting surfaces makes capturing the beauty of the product a difficult task. 
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Varying degree of colors: Getting the accurate color is always a challenge with cosmetic photography.
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Getting the texture right: It is another big challenge for products like cream, powder, gels, shampoo, etc.
CGI Product Photography Examples

Sellers can leverage CGI photography to display cosmetics products accurately without losing their color shades, as it gives total control over the lightning. It is also easier to showcase the unique texture of cosmetic products.

  • Automobile: Some challenges that automobile industries face in traditional photography are:
  • Automobiles are large and hence difficult to move to shoot locations. 
  • They have a lot of reflective surfaces, so it is hard to get the exact color and shine.
  • It becomes difficult to find the right composition due to automobiles’ complex shapes and lines.

CGI photography can address all these problems. CGI photography helps automobile sellers to showcase their vehicles in different colors, models, and trims, as well as highlight their specific features like interiors and engines to get consumer interested in their products.

Further, there is no need to wait for the perfect light on a particular day to get your automobiles clicked in the best background and light when it comes to CGI photography.

CGI Product Photography Examples
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Architecture: CGI photography helps real estate developers to get photoreal 3D models of interiors, landscapes, and buildings. This enables their customers to visualize the space even before it is ready.
    When the space is not ready, you don’t have the option to do photography with a camera. CGI photography can help in this case, as the design can be created using a CAD file. 
    Further, CGI helps you provide AR/VR experiences for the customers that help them visualize the space/property and understand how it will look once they get ready.
    Additionally, CGI enables you to showcase the real surrounding of the space/property to get a better sense of how the overall property and its surroundings look.
CGI Product Photography Examples
  • Jewelry: Proper lighting is very important in jewelry photography. Any deviation in lighting can create unsightly reflections that show up as white spots on jewelry products and also create harsh shadows.
    The reflective nature of jewelry makes them absorb light. Hence, the background is also very important to ensure the item is captured with clarity and allow customers to see how the product looks exactly. 
CGI Product Photography Examples

In short, the dependency on lighting, background, reflective surfaces, curves and cuts in jewelry products makes them difficult to photograph. 

CGI photography addresses all these problems as it can be created in digitally controlled environments and gives complete flexibility and control over the quality of the visual content. This makes CGI a better choice for jewelry product photography.

To showcase the unique features, craftsmanship and designs, including the cut, clarity, color and intricate details of the setting, jewelry brands can leverage CGI photography.

Only some jewelry brands keep a stock of piled ready-made jewelry. They most likely get the jewelry pieces designed with the help of CGI for reference to the customers. This helps them have multiple designs and the chance to curate them as per customer demands.

Cost of CGI Services

If you’re going for CGI photography services, you can expect pricing from a few hundred dollars per product. 

The actual pricing depends on the project’s complexity and your requirements. To create visual content using CGI photography, different steps such as 3D modeling, styling and rendering are required; depending on all requirements, the price varies. The price also depends on the type of visual content (white background images, lifestyle images, 360 spin, etc.). 

At HOBB, our prices depend on the requirement (360, lifestyle, videos, AR/VR, white background) and the complexity of the product. You can contact us for a quote.

Why the Switch from Traditional Photography to CGI Product Photography?

Looking at the exceptional advantages of using CGI product photography,  it wouldn’t be wrong to say, CGI is the future of product photography. 

Here are some reasons why this type of product photography is a better choice to advertise your product than traditional product photography.

  • Complete control over the quality of product visuals 
  • Cost-effective solution for your visual content requirements
  • High scalability
  • Faster go-to-market period
  • Visual contents for pre-launch marketing
  • More creative freedom

Check our post for a detailed analysis of how CGI compares with traditional photography.

House of Blue Beans: A Done-for-You  CGI Company for Your Product Visual Requirements

If you’re looking for high-quality CGI product photography, House of Blue Beans may be the right choice for you. 

We have an expertise of a decade. We (House of Blue Beans) are a visualization company specializing in creating visual content leveraging CGI technology. We have a team of experts who are skilled in creating realistic 3D models and rendering high-quality images. 

We have worked with industry leaders like Lowe’s and Target. 

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See what our customers have to say about us:

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Check our work portfolio here and if you need help with product visual requirements, you can reach out to us for more information here.