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The Mill discovery in a global automotive client

Helping a creative production agency find new commercial applications for their 3D visualisation technologies

“Andrew led our creative technology team, as well as our clients, through a very complex and uncertain challenge. And he gave us energy and reassurance throughout the process.”

Alessandro Pula, Director of Experience at The Mill

The challenge

Finding applications for a new interactive technology

The Mill is best known for working on visual effects, creative production and immersive experiences for the biggest brands and creatives in the world. Some of the work they do is so cutting edge that they end up inventing completely new technology solutions to make it happen. From time to time, The Mill spins out interactive technologies to clients and industries, but it’s not always easy to find the right problems to fit the solution.

One such emerging technology was a way to visualise and interact with large, hyper-realistic 3D models in physical spaces via a phone or tablet. This combines ideas from The Mill’s astonishing Blackbird car rig with 360º camera onboard, and Scout, their augmented reality, CGI-visualisation solution for directors and VFX supervisors.

Blackbird adjustable car rig from The Mill

The Mill were approached by a global automotive company to explore how these technologies could be adapted to support collaboration around vehicle development. The client had gathered loads of very different ideas from execs about where it could be used in the business.

The number of stakeholders involved was making the scoping phase of the MVP challenging for The Mill’s team. The solution needed to tick more and more boxes, but the build time and budget were limited. So they brought Muir Wood & Co in to lead exploration of each of these ideas and find a way to choose the best place to start.

Our approach

Iterative rounds of interviewing and prototyping alternative scenarios

The main thing missing was detail and context surrounding each idea. We first ran discovery interviews with the proposed end users of each concept, this allowed us to understand how they do things currently and identify delays, costs or opportunities that relate to the visualisation of vehicles.

Then, working alongside an interaction designer and technologist, we created storyboards and UI prototypes that illustrated how these existing tasks might be reimagined through The Mill’s AR tech. We took these back to the teams to determine the impact of enhanced 3D visualisation on their workflow. How much time would it save them? How much money would it make them?

To make the process of choosing between ideas more concrete we established the following heuristic criteria for comparing each concept:

  1. Evidence of profitability/savings over their current way of working
  2. Multiple features of the technology connect directly with their tasks and pain points
  3. The team was equipped to set up and use the technology

The outcome

An unexpected use case delivered and adopted

“Through their process Muir Wood & Co were able to cut through the noise and focus on the features that were really key to the client. They enabled us to craft a solution that has since proven to be valuable and impactful.”

Alessandro Pula, Director of Experience at The Mill

We presented our research findings back to the clients in a playback workshop. By applying the heuristics together, we were able to align on the strongest use case, the MVP implementation to get it up and running quickly, and also the sequence with which future functionality might logically be added.

The idea that scored best was not the one we all expected at the start of the project. The Mill delivered this solution and it has since been taken over by the client and is being actively used, leading to significant time and cost savings.

Finding applications for new technology is extremely difficult. It’s very hard to filter out biases from stakeholders and misleading signals from users. We can help your team to navigate this challenge in a rapid, structured way that fits your budget and timeline. We've done this kind of work with both agencies and startups.

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss a project.

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