With over a decade of product experience, Michelle is an expert and advocate for delightful customer experiences and sees Augmented/Virtual reality as the future for computing.
His passion for computer graphics, real-time rendering and technology has led him through a wide variety of interesting and challenging projects throughout his career.
In this conversation, Michelle and Jeremy talk about the new 3D Content Guidelines for Microsoft.
Geetesh: PowerPoint and Office have some amazing 3D capabilities, and Microsoft just released 3D content guidelines. Can you tell us more about the need for these guidelines, and how users can access them?
Michelle: Representatives from Office attended The Presentation Summit in San Diego, CA in the Fall of 2018, where presentation and communication specialists from around the world came together to learn from each other in the areas of presentation design, effective communication, and presentation software. We were involved in a variety of partner discussions during the event, and were excited to learn that a number of presentation specialists were already taking advantage of the new Office 365 3D capabilities, and were spending money on 3D asset optimization/development in order to facilitate a deeper, richer expression of their ideas. As part of those discussions, we heard from a variety of small, medium and large businesses that they wanted to do more with 3D in Office, but were lacking Office specific requirements, guidance, and/or best practices for buying, building, or updating existing 3D assets that are optimized for Office. For example:
- A large International law firm expressed a desire to hire external freelance artists to develop 3D content for litigation graphics presentations but didn’t know what development guidelines to provide the artist, to ensure that the models rendered and performed as expected in PowerPoint.
- A full-service design studio stated that they tinkered with creating 3D assets in-house but wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the models to look the way they wanted once in PowerPoint. They even mentioned that they gave up on a project for a large Automotive client because they couldn’t get 3D assets to work in PowerPoint in the way they needed.
- A PowerPoint presentation design firm shared that they had to turn down business from a large Industrial client, because their 3D assets were in a format that Office doesn’t currently support (Collada .ZAE), and didn’t know how to optimize, or convert the 3D models into a format that Office supports (.GLB).
- A Global Corporate Consulting firm stated that they are willing to invest money on 3D content but need assurance that the assets they develop will work reliably in Office.
All this feedback helped us to recognize that there was a clear opportunity to provide guidance to Enterprise customers on best practices for buying, custom building or converting existing 3D content that is optimized for Office. Enterprise customers have 3D needs that Office cannot satisfy with our own 3D content, so as a result, a number of teams within Office came together to create the 3D Content Guidelines for Microsoft, which helps our customers build or optimize their own custom assets, to unlock 3D usage across organizations.
Jeremy: As Michelle mentioned, The Presentation Summit was really the moment the need for the guidelines became super clear and helped us define the basis of what content should be included. Throughout the development of the guidelines the continued customer connections helped us validate what we had created so far and pushed us to increase the scope of the guidelines to cover the recurring questions and workflow issues we were seeing.
Now that the first version of the guidelines has been published, we look forward to hearing feedback from customers on how we can continue to refine and expand the content. The guidelines can be found on Microsoft Download Center:
Geetesh: How do you suggest users benefit from the guidelines? Do you have any recommendations for PowerPoint users?
Michelle: We’ve heard from some of our Office partners, that they are already having success with the 3D Content Guidelines for Microsoft. For example, one of our Office MVP’s was able to provide detailed guidance to one of their large industrial clients for converting Collada files (.ZAE) to .GLB by using a free Collada to glTF Converter (which they were previously unaware of). This enabled our Office MVP to engage in a business deal with this client and enabled that client to use an in-house 3D model for an upcoming sales presentation. The client even went as far as incorporating the Collada to glTF Converter into their upstream 3D development pipeline, so that 3D assets would be ready to pull into PowerPoint at any time. Win-Win! The client later commented, “I think having the ability to do this is great!”
Jeremy: The guidelines aim to help users acquire or build 3D content that looks good, performs well and is compatible with Office. Early in the development of the guidelines we realized that for many of our users this was their first exposure to real-time rendering or even 3D in general. So, we tried to walk the line of making the content approachable for everyone, while still providing the technical depth required for those creating 3D content for use in Office. The guidelines are split into four main sections:
- 3D Engine Overview: Learn about the inner workings of the real-time 3D engine used in Office and how it compares to other methods of rendering 3D content.
- Sourcing Assets: Tips and tricks for finding quality 3D content in online marketplaces and working with vendors to build your custom assets.
- Content Creation: Step through the process of creating content for real-time rendering in Office. From modelling, surfacing and animation through to optimizing and exporting your assets.
- Additional Resources: Discover tools for viewing, analyzing and validating your 3D content as well as links to other valuable resources.
Some recommendations to consider when designing PowerPoint presentation with 3D content:
- Use some Morph transitions when showing models from multiple angles. They work so well with 3D content and the added production value usually grabs people’s attention.
- Both preset and embedded animations are a great way to make presentations come alive.
- There are studies that indicate comprehension and retention can be improved with 3D, consider how it will help communicate the idea or tell a better story.
- Don’t over do it! As with any shiny new feature the temptation is always high to use it everywhere.
- Have fun with it and experiment. We have already seen users create some very cool presentations with surprising uses of 3D.