August 15th 2009 - StrataCafe Challenge - Location, Location, Location
The Supporting Cast

In this challenge, we're not looking for the hero, we're looking for the supporting characters. Specifically, we're looking for retail display set-pieces for products. For example, if you were going to present a kitchen appliance in a retail setting, you'd need to model the housewares aisle from a department store. For a mobile phone, you might want a wall display with other phones and accessories.

While there are many great free models in the Cafe's resources, it's rarely the main product that people are looking for in the resources. It's the surrounding elements, or the retail environments that product and package designers need to showcase their work. For this challenge, not only is a sharp render required, but also the model itself. At the end of the challenge, all scene files will be made available to the Strata community.

Everyone's a Winner

This challenge is different in several different ways. Firstly, every "accepted" entry receives a $25 (usd) gift certificate for the online Strata Store. Strata employees will pre-judge each entry to make sure it meets a minimum quality threshold. We want to ensure that the challenge produces retail stages that working designers will actually want to use. Entries will be accepted until midnight, August 15th, 2009. Entries will be screened by Strata staff shortly after being received. If your entry is declined, you will get a message to that effect. If you'd like to fix the issues present in the model and revise it, you'll have until midnight, August 29th (provided you've already submitted an entry by the 15th).

Community judging will commence the week following the 29th, and will stay active for up to 2 weeks, if voting volume remains steady. Winners will be announced in the Strata bulletin following the close of voting.

First Place
Will receive a 1 TB (Terabyte) hard drive* and a $100 Strata Store gift certificate.
Second Place
Will receive a 16 GB USB drive* and a $75 Strata Store gift certificate.
Third Place
Will receive an 8 GB USB drive* and a $50 Strata Store gift certificate.
*Actual make and model of prizes to be determined by Strata when prizes are dispersed.

Rules and Conditions

Entries will be accepted until midnight on Saturday, August 15th, 2009. Pre-judging of entries will be done by Strata within 1 week of entry receipt. Online judging will commence shortly after August 29th. All cafe members who have an image gallery with at least one image are eligible to vote.

Submissions must be a JPG image and a Strata 3D/Design 3D scene file (.s3d). The image cannot contain your name or email address anywhere on it, although you are welcome to post works-in-progress to the Cafe gallery or Cafe forums. Final submissions should be sent to me, Michael (michael@stratacafe.com) with an indication in the subject line that it's a final entry for the challenge. In the body of the email, note what version of Strata Design 3D CX was used to create the scene file, as this information will need to accompany the scene file when it's posted for other users.

By submitting an entry to this challenge, you grant permission to other users to use the scene file in commercial or non-commercial work, and certify that the work submitted is yours and does not contain any commercial models or assets for which you do not own the copyright, or your use of copyrighted material is "fair use". Use of existing commercial packaging images/textures would constitute "fair use" for this purpose (as taking a picture of a retail environment would also constitute fair use).

By our reading of the Google 3D Warehouse copyright you are also free to use 3D assets found in the Google 3D Warehouse (http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/) as part of, or the base elements of, your submission (you can read the full license that submitted Google 3D content must adhere to - and therefore that apply to use as a user of the content - here: (http://www.google.com/intl/en/sketchup/3dwh/tos.html).

The 3D rendering in this challenge must be completed entirely in a Strata Product (any version of Strata 3D or Strata Design 3D). Modeling can be done in Strata Design 3D, Strata Foto 3D, Strata Enfold 3D or another app and imported into Strata Design 3D for rendering. If you don't own any version of Strata Design 3D (or the earlier Strata 3D), you can download a 30-day, fully functioning demo of Strata Design 3D CX 6 here. You may also use trial versions of Strata Foto 3D and Strata Enfold 3D as part of your project.

As stated earlier, you can also use models from libraries for which you have copyright permission (and for which you can ensure continued permission for future users of the models you provide to Strata). An example of this would be models taken from the Google 3D Warehouse. Third party models cannot constitute the bulk of your project however (greater than 50%).

Photoshop, Illustrator, or other image editors or page layout programs may be used for texture creation.

These rules may be subject to change without notice before the close of the contest.

If you have any questions regarding challenge rules or theme guidelines, please email me at michael@stratacafe.com