If you're like me, you want to see your design in application before final production—especially outdoor elements such as billboards and signage. Usually creating this preview involves a rendevous with Photoshop for transforming, masking & placing based on estimated proportions
How great would it be if there was a program to create the preview for you? and accurately!
Although I have yet to find that wonder program, I peeped something pretty close today: The Creative Simulator from Clear Channel Outdoor.
With the Creative Simulator, all you have to do is upload a jpeg of your artwork and then drag & drop to your heart's content to test your design on a variety of locations all over the world. Options include billboards, airport kiosks, bus shelters and transit vehicles (to name just a few) set in cities, countrysides and every environment in between. The program shows you the original distance the camera was from the subject to help gauge the effectiveness of your message. You can zoom in or out and even print or save out a jpeg of the final product straight from their user-friendly, easy-to-navigate interface.
If only I had a personal software guru to create a customized version because despite its awesomeness, the Creative Simulator distorts artwork if the aspect ratio's don't match. Also, since its international, most measurements are in meters so some unit conversion is required if you can't easily relate to the metric system.
Even if the simulator isn't perfect, it's definitely a good insight into the possibilities of previewing design in the future. It doesn't hurt that it's simply fun to play with either.
Here's a preview of the UI and a jpeg of what the Eye Spy header would look like on a billboard in Poland: