With the rise of online events, there has been a shift in priorities when it comes to event planning: the task of finding the best virtual event platform has replaced the search for the perfect in-person venue. 

The truth is most online meetings suck. They ramble, and lack relevance and this is not only true about internal meetings - ‘professionally’ run virtual conferences can be the worst offenders. Anyone can slap together a few Powerpoint presentations, present via Zoom, and call it a virtual event, but designing unique immersive experiences that keep attendees engaged takes thoughtful planning and conscious design. 

Since your virtual event platform serves as the ‘venue’ for your online event, it goes without saying that if you want your attendees to feel truly immersed in your event experience, a generic-looking virtual platform with your event’s logo displayed on the corner won't be enough. You’ll want to leverage your brand colours, fonts, and imagery to create a unique look and feel for your event the moment they first log on to your virtual event platform.

At Meetingbox design is viewed as the main form of engagement and as the all-in-one platform for your live, virtual, and hybrid events the company has built its reputation on making design a top priority in its product. We decided to talk to Anna Natter, Meetingbox’s lead 3D Designer who gave us deeper insights into her creative process when creating the jaw-dropping designs engaging attendees with unforgettable virtual experiences.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do and how did you become a 3D Designer?

I was born in a family of artists in Hungary, and from a very early on, I've been encouraged to be introspective and express myself artistically. I was only 14 when I started my studies in traditional animation and fine art, which I continued through college as an art and visual communication teacher. 

My journey into the 3D world started after college, at the News Graphic Team of the biggest commercial television station in Hungary where I worked for almost 9 years as a 3D designer. I  learned the basics of 3D there. Working on live shows required precision,  resilience, good time management skills, and a strong ability to focus.

I made sure that the focus did not belie experimentalism in my work. In 2016, Immediately after my twin girls were born, I launched my own freelance business to create collaborations on exciting and innovative projects. In 2017 I started to collaborate with Adobe and in 2018 I had the pleasure of creating a splash screen for their 3D software Adobe Dimension 2.0. In 2020 I’ve been invited to Adobe Max - one of the biggest creative conferences in the world - to share my experience about how I transitioned from 2D to 3D design. 

And in 2020 I started my exciting journey with Meetingbox

Tell us more about your journey at Meetingbox, how did it start?

In the Spring of 2020, I started working with Sebastian Seefried from Meetingbox. We created the first version of our Virtual World. After a few very busy months of planning and testing, Meetingbox platform had its first virtual event in a 3D environment. After that, we started creating some custom 3D environments for wide range of companies and it's been an amazing journey ever since.

What’s your favourite aspect of creating 3D art? Is there something you specialise in and enjoy the most?

What I like the most about 3D it makes you feel omnipotent as an artist: I can create a new surreal world or I can create an alternative version of the real world.  If a client wants to have a virtual venue that is an exact replica of its physical building I can "translate" real-life buildings into "Meetingbox World".  Everything is about functionality, and that is what I keep in mind first. Would I find it easy to navigate in this new world? The answer to this question should always be "yes" as the real world is messy and complicated enough on its own. Attendees must be able to find the content right away, without being distracted by too many redundant elements. We prefer a clean look and straightforwardness and so do our clients.

Please tell us some tips for creating 3D art

Even though I had the privilege to try a lot of softwares and techniques in the last 16 years and I can say that I have a comprehensive understanding of how this whole industry works, still, it is super difficult to give concrete advice, as 3D is a very complicated art form that takes years to master. the most obvious advice would be that doing it every single day speeds up the learning process. Yet, when someone commits to learning 3D design, it becomes obvious that this process is different for everyone according to the industry they are targeting at and the goals they are setting up.  Modelling, texturing, lighting, animating, rendering. There are too many different ways to do these. To break it down into very general terms,  I'd suggest setting goals first– A good idea is to choose one technique and set a timeframe to perfect that technique. Even if you’re unable to accomplish that goal during the first few months, don’t fret. If you keep doing this and continue challenging yourself with new goals, you will eventually be able to arm yourself with the right skill sets. 

Could you please show us any images from the latest work process with a short description? Where did the idea come from? Did you learn something new?

Virtual Bar design: created for Meetingbox with Substance 3D Stager
Virtual Career Booth: created for Meetingbox with Substance 3D Stager
Digital art created with Substance 3D Stager
Spatial Designs and Brand Visualisations in Adobe Dimension

Which part of your work do you like the most and why?

It might sound strange but my favourite part is branding. I just like to rebrand interiors according to the corporate identity of the clients. It's always a fun process to figure out balance in shapes and colours. What is very interesting, we have a 100% success rate when it comes to branding, so all of our clients are 100% satisfied with the branding of their virtual venue. This is something I'm proud of. 

What software and tools do you use for your work, and why?

After basically learning everything about 2D (still and motion) in the Creative Cloud, I started to learn and use various 3D softwares in my projects such as Blender, Cinema 4D, and ZBrush. I’m a big fan of the Substance 3D ecosystem, Stager, Painter and Sampler are my favourite tools. These are the ones I use the most.

Are there any particular techniques that you use often? Or do you like to experiment?

Our renders are created in Substance 3D Stager which makes them very unique, mostly because of the render engine. Stager is part of the Adobe Substance 3D Collection. It's a new 3D software that is very designer-friendly, and compatible with other apps from the Creative Cloud, so all the graphics or brand colours are accessible directly from Photoshop or Illustrator through the CC Libraries which makes it easier to make quick changes in a scene. This incredibly smooth workflow is my favourite to create 3D renders. 

I do like to experiment, for example, I like to search for new materials in the Substance 3D Assets Library so whenever I need new material for texturing, such as fabric or wood, or a special metal, that's the first place I start to look. It is like going shopping in my favourite store, there is a huge variety and I can't leave the site without getting something new.

Abstract 3D render after and before texturing. The visual created for the launch of Substance 3D Stager.
Abstract 3D render after and before texturing. The visual created for the launch of Substance 3D Stager.

Futuristic Virtual event location created for Meetingbox with Substance 3D Substance Stager
Futuristic Virtual event location created for Meetingbox with Substance 3D Substance Stager
Minimalistic Virtual event lobby created for Meetingbox with Substance 3D stager
Hotel lobby design created for Meetingbox with Substance 3D Stager

What software would you like to learn in the future to expand your portfolio and skillset, and why?

Currently what I’m most excited about are AR (augmented reality) and modelling in VR (virtual reality), specifically Adobe Substance 3D Modeller. It's still in beta stage, I can't wait for this app to be launched. I’m continuously learning something and currently, I’m discovering Unreal Engine. 

What can we expect to see from you next?

Right now what I'm most excited about is taking part in a physical exhibition with my digital art during the Shinwa Digital ART Week 2022 in Ginza, Tokyo. This event is hosted by Shinwa Wise Holdings which is one of the biggest auction houses in Japan. Twenty-two artists from all over the world will participate in this exhibition. They curated 6 of my 3D artworks for this event. After this, I will focus on mainly client projects in the upcoming months as it's going to be a very busy time for Meetingbox.

Author’s note: if you wish to check out more of Anna’s work have a look at her bechance page