2Reveal Translating the Big Picture with 3D Animation

Having the ‘big picture’ in your head and translating it into an image is one thing, but being able to make a 3D animation of that vision is quite another. 3D animation studio 2Reveal is helping these visionaries translate their thoughts into everything from architectural renderings to product demonstration and brand animations.

John McNeal

While earning his architecture degree at OSU, Founder John McNeal took an animation class…and said he would never do it again. However, while working at an architecture firm post-graduation, a friend needed help with a 3D project and McNeal stepped up to the plate.

He found it to be quite a different experience away from school and class and deadlines and quickly built a portfolio of 3D projects.

“The thing that connects me most with this is I’m a big-picture visionary person, and I know that we work best with other visionaries” McNeal says.

When he says visionaries, McNeal means the individuals that understand there’s no verbal explanation for the clear picture of a building or project he’s developed in his head. As McNeal points out, to tell 10 different people to picture a red wall, you would end up with 10 shades of red.

“I love that this was a way that visionaries could make their vision somewhat tangible,” he says. 

Since 2002, 2Reveal’s animations have been changing the conversation from ‘are we thinking of the same shade of red’ to a bigger-picture look at the pros and cons of a design.

2Reveal’s animations fall into two categories at a 50-50 split (and neither are cartoons as one might automatically think when hearing the word animation) – architectural renderings and creative projects.

2Reveal2In the architectural realm, 2Reveal works primarily with developers. While an architect is more concerned about the design, a developers is in it for the bigger picture – 2Reveal’s sweet spot. The firm takes an architect’s designs and gives it a 3D life of what a building (interior or exterior) would really look like.

McNeal says it’s becoming more of the norm to include 3D renderings. Visuals for a project have to be very intriguing for most consumers to show support, and doubly so, a developer couldn’t very well ask someone to buy a condo without having some idea what it would look like.

From 2002 to around 2009, 2Reveal exclusively played in architecture, until the market fell apart.

“As the architecture industry went, so went our business,” McNeal says. 

He took a moment to examine his passions and direction and discovered a dichotomy he could use to diversify 2Reveal’s business. He had business owner side and creative geek side.

I feel like I can speak to both parties,” he says. 

So in 2010, the firm started diversifying its portfolio with more creative animation projects in marketing and advertising. After several years of architectural renderings, McNeal loves the challenge of the creative projects, and speaking extensively with business owners to learn the essence of their brand and what they need.

2Reveal’s reach spans from Columbus to much of the East Coast. Their local portfolio includes projects like an interactive touchscreen piece in the lobby of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a visualization animation of ODOT’s US 23 trench, and an animation for a lubrication company showing how their products work.


McNeal says there are many factors that have played a role in 2Reveal’s continued success.

“I think reputation has been really good,” he says. “We have a lot of people that refer business to us.”

Investing in and building the creative community has also paid its dividends. McNeal took his experience as part of a business group and began building his own called Creative Community to encourage others’ creativity. His passion for the pursuit has also found its ways into 2Reveal’s business model.

As a business owner, McNeal has so many parts and pieces to keep track of, that the rapidly changing pace of technology was moving faster than his ability to learn it. Instead he started investing in other creatives, often pulling talent from his Creative Community to match their skill set with 2Reveal’s project needs.

I love that aspect of our business and the future of that,” he says. 

With so many great schools and young talent, “I love the creativity in the city,” McNeal says.

It’s one of the many things he’s discovered he loves about Columbus. When first starting his career, he had aspirations of packing up and moving to New York, as so many people in the creative field often think they have to do. But after awhile, he realized he could be one of the millions in a place like NY, or he could stay in Columbus and really grow his niche here. He says it took him some time, but he realized he could have everything he was hoping for in Columbus.

For more information, visit 2reveal.com.