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  • Zeno – Review & Thoughts

    Posted by David Hammond on March 28, 2024 at 7:37 pm

    I’ve done a bit of a review on my own website, but thought I’d share some thoughts here.

    Zeno is a 3d rendering software aimed at vehicle wrapping, whilst I predominantly do commercial vehicle signage and partial wraps I thought I’d give it a go.

    Why? It offers something different, rather than sending a flat 2d proof to a customer, I can send more realistic Renders, or even video Renders of what their signage will look like.

    It ticks the boxes for that, I don’t know of an easier, quicker way to create anything similar.

    Reality

    I design the graphics in illustrator using impact outlines, this is where it gets a bit ‘tedious’. Having to export each element from Illustrator and import these assets into Zeno. From there I effectively have to recreate the design in Zeno on the model. Which granted is easy enough to do, the option to mirror on the opposite side helps. But yes it’s creating additional steps and work… But as above, it’s kind of worth whole on certain jobs.

    Limitations

    Like all software it has it limitations, for example the library of vehicles isn’t massive, especially for UK commercial vehicles, lots of cars though. However, this is growing and improving, so I’m pleased by that.

    My biggest bugbear with the software is the renderings. There are select scenes you can select, that’s fine, exporting to images produces 3 different angles of renders, however you don’t know what these are until you render the scene. They’re the same angle each time you render that scene, but some of the views are more geared to wrapping. Ie, close up of bonnets, or wheel arches, probably good for colour change wraps, useless for commercial signage.

    Same with the video outputs, no preview until you’ve rendered each scene, but they are more suitable.

    Easily overcome by selecting a few scenes and refering them all, and deleting the less useful images.

    Is it worth it?

    That depends on your clients, I try and offer something different, and Zeno helps. But I primarily do vehicle signage to start with. I don’t really do ‘cheap’ signs. I am targeting those customer who get excited about their signage, want different and seeing that render really brings it to life, so the times is worthwhile.

    There are some additional advantages too! If you’re producing “free” visuals, Zeno now offers you a way to share a proof that isn’t so easily ripped off… How do you rip off a design from a video? That video proof or render can be shared on Social media, YouTube, and whether you did the job or not, is an example of what you can do. Not that I really do free design work, but do make use of the visuals on social media etc.

    Here’s a two ideas I have put forward to a customer, and they are really impressed with larger logo rather than panel fill (my branding added over the Zeno logo in Photoshop another little quirk)

    Video render of the logo wrap.

    Video render of the Panel Fill

    My inner geek loves it, customers seem to like it, and ias I said I don’t think I could do anything similar as easily or quickly, and it’s probably already paid for itself already 👍

    Interested in others thoughts on this, any questions feel free to ask.

    David Hammond replied 7 hours, 34 minutes ago 7 Members · 14 Replies
  • 14 Replies
  • Martyn Heath

    Member
    March 29, 2024 at 9:33 am

    Looks damn cool. How long does it actually take to do transfer a design over to the software?

    What are the costs?

    It looks very professional and I’m sure customers will love it but it would concern me the extra steps involved to create it, even more so when they start to make changes and want more visuals. Obviously if its being charged for its a different matter. Obviously going to make you stand out from the competition

    • David Hammond

      Member
      March 29, 2024 at 10:01 am

      Time wise, less than an hour for them both. The actual rendering process takes a bit of time, but I can be doing other stuff whilst it churns away. Cost wise around £400-500 a year. I agree it’s an extra step, but can help upsell. No good for the budget market, but certainly stands out against how we usually prepare proofs. I don’t do it for every customer and job, just the ones where I think it will benefit the customer.

  • Phill Fenton

    Member
    March 29, 2024 at 11:32 am

    That looks amazing David – Well done. As you say a great way to upsell and make yourself stand out from the rest

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    March 30, 2024 at 6:42 pm

    Hi David

    An interesting topic, mate.

    ZENO

    I looked at the ZENO software during a presentation by Spandex in Glasgow last year.
    My understanding of the software is that the first year was around £500 and the second year, then on, was around £1500 each year.
    However, they made clear that by the end of 2024/25, it WILL be a design software too. So you will be able to design within it and cut/print directly from the software, hence the sharp increase in the price.
    I am being vague, because I don’t fully remember the details, but was there about, I think…

    Is £500 worth the investment?
    Yes, absolutely. Even if it only wins you one job each week, it is only costing you £10 per week.

    The way in which the software presents van graphic visuals to the customers is excellent.
    Customers receiving visuals in this way is exactly what you want to take jobs from competitors that hand over a paper printout or PDF to the customer. It will impress the hell out of your new customers!

    Based on your comments, which have confirmed some of my thoughts…

    “At this stage”, I do not see the software as suitable for maybe 65% of typical vehicles that will come through the door of the majority of sign companies, even if they are more geared towards vehicle branding.
    The additional time and work required to be added to every vehicle design that has to be done will add up fast. By that I mean…
    We design vehicles daily, you design them in 2D, and often the customer wants alterations. You make the changes.
    If you are designing 2D and presenting in 3D. the customer will love the 3D render, but needs some colours changed, phone number added, blah blah. again, you design in 2D, but will then have to present in 3D. maybe every change?
    The process with additional work, will become tedious.

    I see this geared more towards part and full-wrap vehicles, and small to large fleet work. Something with a bit more meat on the margins.
    As I said though, for £10 per week, it’s certainly worth having the tool in your box. 👍

    Year 2: ZENO – £1500

    I am not so sure. I think I will need to wait and see what they come up with.
    I think that no matter what, you will still be designing 2D and importing into 3D. Perhaps they will make that “bridge process” nice and seamless from their 2D design platform, and presenting in their 3D visual platform.
    It would be great for us all if they could perfect it. 👍

    I am surprised at your comments on their “lack of vehicles”. From memory, that was presented as never an issue and anything brand new could be available within days. I think that could be a major downfall if not addressed fast.

    HP
    In 2015 I began working with HP Barcelona as part of their R&D team in their development of an immersive touchscreen Software and Computer to present, design and print vehicle graphics and wraps.

    My contribution to the project was troubleshooting the software and educating their development team on what we require from their software to successfully wrap vehicles.
    Due to NDA’s this is as much as I can elaborate on it.

    However, based on some things you have touched on, I think ZENO are still a fair bit behind on where HP was 9 years ago, and I only mean on the “visual presentation platform” as it stands now.
    The rendering issue you mentioned was not a problem in the HP version, you just tapped “3D visual” and you were instantly in 3D mode.
    Once in “3D mode”, you could swipe the screen and the van would spin around, pinch the screen and zoom in, out etc. all in the same way we work on our phones today, but this was a desktop PC
    that could be used on all platforms and devices.
    The whole designing process was very simple, type on-screen in vector, drag and drop from your folders, and choose from millions of images and clipart with fully integrated Adobe stock.
    all artwork, wraps etc. saved and RIP’d on the cloud, queued and ready for printing on your HP latex.
    The cherry on the cake was you could send a video visual of the completed 3D vehicle to your customer or you hit “print”, but instead of it on paper. It would be connected to an HP 3D Colour desktop printer
    that would print a 3D fully functional vehicle in colour, for you to hand your customer and sit it on his desk if he wanted.
    I remember being left sitting in their offices in Spain to play around on the HP Sprout computer thinking… “F**k, this is amazing!” 😃

    This was 9 years ago. Around 12 months after this, the software and hardware were on show at Fespa on HP’s stand, a world first!
    Another 12 – 18 months later, the project was shelved. 🤨

    ZENO
    On the whole, and as it stands, I still think ZENO is worth having. But I think their focus should be on streamlining the software as a “Presentation Platform” until it is perfected and then start bolting on the designing as an optional module, rather than as standard.

    • David Hammond

      Member
      March 30, 2024 at 7:07 pm

      No chance I’ll be paying £1500 for it unless there are some dramatic advances within the software.

      At the moment I produce an initial visual with the software, it is not used for proofing as I will still do that on a 2d proof sheet.

      In this example, the customer was given two proposals, and they have picked one, any changes will now be done back in Illustrator and presented on a proof sheet.

    • Colin Crabb

      Member
      March 30, 2024 at 7:08 pm

      HP are rolling something like this out in PrintOS along with some more stuff in the pipeline, only one I can talk about is: Introducing HP PrintOS Design & eCommerce Web to Print Software | HP (youtube.com)

      I know more is coming.

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    April 3, 2024 at 12:26 am

    @DavidHammond

    That’s my thoughts too. I think they will have to come up with something special to warrant the new price tag AND compete with the current long-standing industry software currently in use.

    I think their software looks great, but with my background knowledge on this type of thing, i think they should be focusing on perfecting what they already have or they will lose subscribers in year two, which would be a shame.

    @Colin-Crabb-1

    Thanks, Colin. It was the PrintOS platform the software was part of.
    The 3D wrapping software was an integration of the PrintOS so it would be tethered to all HP latex users machines, hense why it would also RIP and queue the jobs on the fly, ready for printing whenever.
    Back then, it already had the Customer Wallcovering designing and visualising concept along with roll-up stands, banners etc. etc. The whole platform is to assist us lot in getting more business from our customers at no extra cost. So the 3D wrap designing software was another element of the platform that is free for all HP printer owners.
    Obviously their outlook is that we buy their machines, the more they can assist us in selling print, we buy their ink and consumables. Makes perfect sense. The augmented reality visualising option is clearly new and very clever!

    • David Hammond

      Member
      April 3, 2024 at 5:41 am

      I agree entirely, it should stick to being a 3d rendering software. Yes there is a bit of duplication involved but the same is true using Photoshop to produce visuals. It has a long way to go before it’s a full design and production suite. I’d also guess you’re going to need some serious processing power for it to work smoothly, without waiting for renders to produce.

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    April 4, 2024 at 10:39 am

    I’d also guess you’re going to need some serious processing power for it to work smoothly, without waiting for renders to produce.

    Yes, I think you are correct.
    The HP Software was cloud-based so I imagine it is their servers handling that part of the process in PrintOS. For local rendering and design, the Sprout computer was the solution which would handle all the processing.

    Keep in mind, that this was 2015 when I began working on this project with HP Spain. It shows just how far ahead HP was to have not only 3D visual videos as ZENO has, but also 3D Designing, RIPing, Printing, Computer Software and Hardware, and “announced it at FESPA”. Still, this aspect of the project was shelved…

    I hope ZENO focuses on the software as a customer visual presentation platform until perfected. It will become a very useful tool.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_3_OcG1UV4

  • Leslie Anderson

    Member
    April 5, 2024 at 10:55 am

    david

    that is amazing. how cool is that to show your customers. 😍
    i do not do a lot of vans or cars but this is impressive.

  • Mark Johnston

    Member
    April 6, 2024 at 11:07 pm

    sounds like there are some annoying limits but this is definitely the way forward for van graphics and wraps. 😎 the bit about not being able to rip off the designs. could they not just pause the video and take a screenshot?
    how long from start to finish would something like you have done in this video take to do in zeno david?

    • David Hammond

      Member
      April 7, 2024 at 9:08 am

      Yes they can screenshot, but would take more effort than, either cracking a password protected pdf, or redrawing from a 2d rasterised proof.

      Less than an hour to get it from illustrator into Zeno and as a video.

  • Robert Lambie

    Administrator
    April 12, 2024 at 11:04 pm

    @DavidHammond

    When you import the graphics from Illustrator, into ZENO. Do you then have to resize them and position everything on all four sides, then render them to 3D?

    What import file types does it work from?

    • David Hammond

      Member
      April 13, 2024 at 5:14 am

      This another quirk…

      I design in illustrator on the 1:20 outlines, but Zeno is 1:1.

      I need to export export each element on its own, ie: side logo, social logos, text blocks like contact details. Which in itself isn’t difficult using the export asset function.

      Obviously a 5% asset looks tiny in Zeno and hard to position etc, so I have to enlarge it, but scaling it to actual size is sometimes to large and artboard, so usually scale to 1000% then enlarge by 200% in Zeno.

      Each element is imported into Zeno, and by default it mirrors, so a logo on one side will appear on the other in the same location, but can be turned off. I think if you move one side, the other moves too as they’re linked.

      Various formats work, pdf, SVG, EPs, and some raster graphics.

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