Salient 2016 Highlights


Another year has gone by, and here at Salient, we have lots to be excited about!
(in no particular order) are just a few things that made our year great:

Salient 2016 HighlightsSalient Highlights

  1. Working with a wide range of customers on over 160 products this year; ranging from leaf blowers to sippy cups and from playground
    equipment to oceanic drones.
  2. Winning the Prospera Business Network’s 2016 Innovator of the Year award
  3. David Yakos won “Toy Innovator of the Year” at the ChiTag TAGIE Awards
  4. Being Finalists for two TOTYs (Toy of the Year Awards) {the Oscars of the Toy & Game world}!:
    1. Toy of the Year Finalist: Mega Tracks
    2. Game of the Year Finalist: Circuit Maze
  5. Acquiring a new 48×36 Laser cutter for large format cutting and etching fun
  6. Launching a Soft Goods Department; including new industrial sewing machines, heat-cool press, Optitex workstation, hot air welder and seam taping machine
  7. Purchasing a new FormLabs Form2 SLA 3D Printer for fast prototyping in multiple materials
  8. Attending the Outdoor Retailer (O.R.) Summer Market
  9. Attending HATCH Experience in Big Sky, Montana, and HATCH LatAm in Panama
  10. Participating in the Montana Department of Commerce’s Montana Pavilion at ISPO in Munich, Germany
  11. David addressed the Montana Ambassadors Annual Meeting & Conference as their Keynote speaker
  12. Steve addressed MMEC Compete Smart at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
  13. Winning the People’s Choice Award at Blunderbuss Maker Faire 
  14. Enjoying delicious nitrogen-frozen gelato made by Kevin from Big Horn Valve Company
  15. Attending the NY Toy Fair and receiving a Best of Toy Fair 2016 award
  16. Being written up in Forbes for creativity
  17. Collaborating with Helio + Company to create the first-ever 3D printed movie titles, which were used in The Fourth Phase

Check out some photos from all these happenings, below, and check out all the links above for more detail on our wild year!

We hope your year was fantastic, and that 2017 is filled with good things,

~The Salient Team

Salient-Helio Collaboration: 3D Printed Titles

Earlier this spring, Zach Johaneson of Helio Collective approached Salient about creating physical movie titles for use in-camera (instead of the typical computer-generated graphics we’re all used to seeing) for the opening credits of Red Bull’s recently-released Travis Rice snowboarding film, The Fourth Phase.

From Zach:

“For intro title sequences in films, you always start by identifying how the sequence should contribute to the film at large. For The Fourth Phase, Director Jon “JK” Klaczkiewicz had a vision of starting the film off with an elemental look at the hydrocycle. Helio & Co. has been in the graphics business for about ten years now, but with this project we really wanted to push ourselves into trying something different that would also contribute to the films overarching story. This is where the idea to shoot all of the titles in camera was born, but the execution was a total mystery. After a bit of experimentation, we reached out to Salient Technologies and they helped us realize we could actually 3D print very small titles that we could then place in these different states of water. For one instance, Salient 3D printed an incredibly small and detailed title and a jig so we could freeze it into a solid block of ice and then film it. Their ability to understand our end goal and then engineer solutions to achieve those goals was absolutely critical to our success.”

Salient and Helio explored many methods for fabricating the titles, including SLA (Stereolithography) and SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printing, laser cutting, decal cutting, and waterjet cutting.

SLS & SLA 3D printed lettering

SLS 3D printed titles on Left. SLA 3D printed titles on Right.

In the end, due to size and quality constraints, we settled on SLS and SLA printing for the titles. For some of the close-up macro shots, the letters were minute – as tiny as 2mm tall. Since they were to to be shot at 6K resolution, the prints had to be very detailed and high-quality. Take a peek at the end result here:

The Fourth Phase: Opening Title Sequence from Helio + Company on Vimeo.

If you were especially perceptive, you may have noticed that “Principal” was misspelled (or misused) in a couple of the images, then corrected in the intro sequence with several more names added. A consequence of actually printing out titles and creating complex setups for filming in-camera effects (as opposed to using computer-generated graphics) is that when there are changes, they take considerably more time to fabricate. Re-printing, finish, setting up the shot, re-shooting, and re-editing is far more time-consuming than editing the spelling or content in a video program digitally, and then re-rendering. To our knowledge, this is the first use of 3D printed titles in a feature film, which is pretty exciting. Being pioneers, and making “firsts” takes sacrifice!

All images in slideshow were provided and used with the permission of Helio + Company. Helio staff featured in photos include Alex Gappa, Zach, Johaneson and Jim Menkol.

To see other work from Helio & Co, go to

Fourth Phase 4K Trailer


Five Reasons Markers are Not Dead

“Rumors of my demise are greatly over exaggerated” is not only a famous quote (Mark Twain) and song lyric (Rise Against the Machine), it also accurately describes the state of markers as a tool in the product development and design industry. Long gone are the days when painstaking hours were spent on full color, hand-drawn marker renderings (thank goodness!). However, I propose marker usefulness on a daily basis has not diminished. Here are just five reasons to not write off this somewhat archaic technology:

  • Intentionally Imprecise: A chisel or widesketch exploration tipped sharpie is a great tool for quickly exploring a basic overall shape without getting caught up in details that aren’t yet pertinent. Our industry is detail oriented, and yet large markers can force you to be intentionally vague, work quickly, redirect focus to the 10,000 ft. view, cover ground and experiment with very few consequences. Fail quick, fail often and move forward more informed.
  • Line Weight: This single attribute is often sketch line weightwhat separates a great looking sketch from a less successful version. Thickness of lines is one of the quickest methods to show depth: is the line the closest one to the ground? Thick. Is the line a significant edge not attached to the bottom? Medium. Is the line an interior or contour line? Thin. Yeah, there are nuances to these rules, but if you’re not already using them, these simple guidelines will take your sketches to a whole new level. One thin pen, one medium, and one thick marker and you are in business.
  • Depth: Low fidelity sketches are generally the next step after loose thumbnails. Photoshop brushes and masking can absolutely get the job done well, but they also require scanning your linework, color balancing etc. If getting the basic surfacing ideas across quickly is the most important goal, then contour lines are useful, but can quickly become distracting. By contrast, two gray scale markers in different values (20% and 50%, or 30% and 60%) can quickly add significant depth to any linework in less time than it would take to even prepare a file for digital shading.
  • Color Exploration: There’s no need to own color exploration sketcha 72 pack with 7 shades of orange, but a basic 12 color set can be very handy to have on your desk. Say you’re are working on a water bottle and already have the general shape worked out in analog or digital formats… Scan the original sketch, duplicate, arrange in neat organized rows, and print it out. What does it look like in blue? How does a green grip affect the overall value or impact? You are only seconds away from finding out! This process is a great tool for building consensus at a design review, as everyone can quickly have a say, and there’s less “what if” conjecturing.
  • Simplicity: Have you ever tried to drag Toolsa giant drawing tablet or computer to the airport, on a bus, or even home from work in the evening? While being amazing tools, portability is a distinct drawback. Digital sketching and rendering absolutely have their advantages, but when I can grab some pens, markers and paper, sit down on a flat surface – anywhere in the world – and problem solve a design that others can visually understand in minutes, that’s a distinct advantage, and a force to be reckoned with.

Although the tools of product design continue to evolve in this increasingly digital world, don’t shelve those Prismacolor or Copic markers just yet. You may never do a 6 hour rendering by hand again in your life, but don’t dismiss an incredibly useful tool entirely just because it’s a little antiquated. If nothing else, at the end of the day, analog tools will never run out of battery power…. which is more than we can say about too many products in our daily lives.Sketches

Kirk Turner is an Industrial Designer, and has been bringing his brand of expertise to the Salient Team since 2015.


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