Meet our friend: John McNeal of 2Reveal

With a bachelor’s degree in Architecture, entrepreneurial spirit, creative mind, and previous work in highly successful design firms, John McNeal is the more than qualified “right brain” of 2Reveal.


2Reveal is an extraordinary animation based company providing designers and architects 3D rendering solutions in order to more accurately convey designs to their clients. As Co-Owner of this company, we wanted to find out how it all began and learn what makes John tick with this recent interesting interview.

Meet John:

Why did you go into Architecture?

Growing up I played a lot with Lego’s and Lincoln Logs. I was just thinking about this the other day, because on the CBS Morning Show, there was a segment on Lego’s and how they’ve been around for 20-30 years. I thought about how much I played with Lego’s and built stuff; I still have my Lego’s collection at my parent’s house in a styrofoam treasure chest. I was always building things as a kid – it didn’t matter what it was – from empty boxes of soap to shoe boxes, to whatever I could find. I was always trying to put something together. So that’s where it kind of all started. I played piano starting with 3rd grade clear through high school. I remember my junior or senior year talking with my piano instructor about potentially majoring in music and she told me not to. It made we wonder if I was good enough. She said that I could minor in music, but not a major because it narrowed you down too much. So then I kind of shifted into architecture or psychology, and I think architecture won out because of the creative side of it. I look at myself now and see a little bit engineer and a little bit artist; architecture is a blend of the two. I don’t think there was a moment when God shined his light on me and said, “John, this is what you’re supposed to do.” I really think a lot of times you take advantage of things that are placed in front of you, so it just seemed like a natural next step.

How did 2Reveal start?

My business partner, Collette, and I worked together previously in an architecture firm. At some point, this firm had a division purely geared toward computer animation. Collette, who had been CFO of the firm, then became the majority owner of the animation division, which is where I was working at the time. I had started in architecture and had worked for maybe 9 months when I realized I didn’t want to do the “climb the corporate ladder” thing. What I liked most about school – the creativity, the freedom – was lacking. I didn’t want to pay my dues, climb the ladder and eventually 10-20 years down the road get to do my own design. So, several months into it, I decided I had to get out. I ended up putting together a 3D portfolio, got a job doing 3D, and eventually Collette became my boss – although we looked at each other more as partners even back then.

I remember very clearly feeling like God had spoken to me and said at some point, I was going to have my own business and Collette was going to be my partner. It was funny because I could remember my Dad years before telling me that I should start my own business and be my own businessman. I was like, “Why? Why would I want to do that? Why would I want to worry about bills and taxes and employees?” I seriously had no desire to do it. But, here I felt God had spoken to me and said it was going to happen. One day, Collette and ?I were flying back from DC where we had attended a technology exhibit at the Smithsonian. I told her I thought one day I was going to pack up and be gone. She asked why, and I told her about what I thought God was leading me to. The way I thought it was going to happen was that I was going to leave my job, move to New York to work for my dream firm, and then come back and start a business. Those were MY plans. It was about 4 months later that there was a big falling out in the office between Collette and her partner and they parted ways. As soon as the fallout happened, it was a no-brainer. We packed up our things, she found office space, and we moved into the office, took our clients with us and kept working. It wasn’t how either of us planned it would happen, and it wasn’t exactly how we had wanted it. I had put together my own thoughts and plans on how it was going to be and God said no, it’s not going to happen quite that was. That’s how we got started – it was in 2002.

Can you tell us about 2Reveal?

2Reveal offers 3D solutions to communicate a design, concept or message. My partner’s favorite phrase is that we take something that is tedious and complex and make it interesting and understandable. We’re very passionate about helping someone tell their story – they have a picture in their head, and the architect has a vision and so does the developer – all these people have visions in their minds, but not everyone else can visualize as they see it. We see ourselves as the ones who bring everyone’s vision together and actually show them. Someone may describe a paint color to you, and when they later show the sample, it may not be what you envisioned – same if someone described a sketch to you. We realize what we do has the power to bring everyone together on the same page.

What does your clientele look like?

They’re actually fairly broad. Early on we worked directly with architects and later broadened it to developers. We just finished a job for a university, we’ve done work directly for Riverside Hospital, and we’ve built bridges for engineers. We’ve also done work with interior designers. It’s kind of cool to have an interior designer say, “Here is the fabric that it going to go on this pillow. Here is the fabric that is going on the couch”.. etc and we’re able to model that and show exactly what they had pictured in their mind. We’ve also done retail stores and town centers. As long as someone comes in and says they have an idea that they want visualized or animated, we’ll take a stab at it. We’ve recently bagan working with construction litigators. We’ve actually done work for lawyers where we take a piece of equipment and show how that piece functions, how it failed, and the result of the failing. This is a new avenue for us and one that is a good fit. Lawyer’s words are only going to be so convincing. When we can put an actual image or reconstruction in front of the jury, it’s a powerful tool to show what really happened. There was a survey done that shows, I believe, a 43% high comprehension when you show some sort of visual than if you just explained it.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by seeing other creative work. Some people see other people’s work as better than their own, or more complicated and elaborate. I don’t know if it’s depressing for them, but for me, it gives me life to see that there’s always so much more new – it keeps me pushing forward and thinking. how can we streamline a process to be faster, or increase productivity? I probably spend time everyday on a site called behance.net and stashmedia.tv, a site that puts out DVD’s of purely sweet animation. I see those and I feel as if I’m so far from doing something like that, but it’s what compels me to keep pushing. I also pull from any resource, even if it’s not animation. I look at interior design, I’ll look at notcot.org. It’s not even 3D, but I’ll look. I thoroughly enjoy that side just to see what people are doing. Creativity keeps me sane and fuels my own creative juices.

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