- ABOUT US _ Drive is an Automotive Design Consultancy building long term relationships with design-driven companies worldwide, designing products that enhance their brand's DNA and position in the market place.
SAIC have just launched a new advanced design studio. The open plan arrangement with designers’ zones, review areas, chill out space and groovy chairs providing a creative environment on prime Maryleborne real estate in the middle of London. A confident statement of intent, attracting design talent along with high expectations to define the future SAIC products.
When I started Drive and was shown impressive facilities of OEMs like Volvo or engineering firms like Magna, it made me wonder how a design consultancy like Drive can compete with the major automotive manufacturers and their studios.
The answer of course is we don’t.
Major car companies carry out most of their design work themselves, with dedicated design departments capable of handling every aspect of the design process.
But few car companies do not use the services of external car design consultancies for some smaller projects or as a validation of their internal designs, whilst many smaller niche car companies use such consultancies to supplement their more limited in-house design facilities on larger design projects.
In most cases the reason we get shown around a company’s design facilities is because Drive is working with them or about to. They see that Drive has something to offer them and they want us to work with their teams to stimulate creativity and maximise the design output. Whether it be for market insights, a fresh design perspective or simply additional digital resource we are able to provide focussed and professional expertise.
As with the studio space, I question ‘how can we compete’ when recruiting creative talent, when automotive OEMs can offer so much in terms of employment, facilities and certainty of projects well into the future.
Again we don’t compete, what we have to offer is different.
We are an efficient studio that has a welcoming, creative and professional atmosphere. We work with numerous brands so it is unlikely that we will designing a similar face of a car or grill for long. The type of work is varied, and is more likely to be concept ideation than production detailing. The projects will cover a large spectrum with mobility solutions, aircraft interiors or maybe another supercar inspired Track-tor (see here) being as likely as the next production SUV.
A consultancy environment like Drive’s isn’t for everyone, but the constant change benefits our creative team keeping them fresh, interested and gaining a breadth of experiences that differentiates them from other designers. The very skill set that many design chiefs look for in their next hire, indeed two former Drive employees will be able relax at the new SAIC coffee bar.
It is the diverse experiences that attracts our clients and benefits their projects as they get new perspectives, fresh ideas and insight from our broad knowledge gained across different industries and clients.
So if you are looking for some creative input for your next project or if a consultancy environment is somewhere you would like to work, come round for a chat. We don’t have a coffee bar but we do have a fantastic café around the corner.
(SAIC Design Advanced London top image – photos source SAIC)
CGI animations can be used to help promote a car manufacturer’s products, and this article outlines the process.
Following a briefing, deciding on the objectives of the piece and its intended audience, we work out a story board and get sign off.
On this occasion with the South Downs so close we scouted a location and found a spot that was quiet, allowing plenty of freedom to experiment without interruption. A whole day was spent taking reference shots of the area, trying different lenses and really exploring the road and surroundings, finding interesting angles that would suit the car we had chosen to animate, and shots for the live footage backgrounds. We then refined the storyboard, taking in to consideration the final scene, environment and sun positions, and planned the shoot for the next day.
Weather conditions can cause chaos when shooting out doors, heavy cloud cover combined with strong winds can make it difficult to get consistency in lighting, especially when shooting HDRI domes. Working to our shoot timing plan, we worked through our programme taking back plates, HDRI domes and reflection plates and a few reference shots of cars driving up the road. We now had all the material required to create our animation.
Using our camera tracking software, we captured the back plate camera movement and gathered information that could be used to construct the virtual environment and most importantly, the road surface. Often overlooked it is important to make sure the road surface is defined accurately as the interaction of the car with this surface helps make the movement believable. A simple lighting dome would not be suitable for a moving car over distance so we mapped our stitched HDRI light capture to the environment geometry, regularly checking the effect from various camera shots to ensure realism.
The chosen car data set was then animated using our in house automotive rig. Additional lighting was added for specific shadowing and a number of render tests were carried out to match light levels and motion blur in keeping with the back plate. Multiple passes were rendered for the final composition and depth of field and subtle reflective glow were added to help sit the car in the scene. Finally, a little grading was added to the composition for a warmer finish.
Every shot created is different and every car has certain angles that show it off at its best, Drive’s team of creative visualisers and automotive designers combine to create and ensure great results.
This year’s degree show is the last of the MA Vehicle Design course before it changes to MA Intelligent Mobility. Over the decades many of the Vehicle Design students have been taken on by leading manufacturers and consultancies, progressing to the top of their chosen speciality and going on to become leading figures in the industry.
The private view is an opportunity for former students, their colleagues and friends to view the latest graduates’ projects and catch up in a relaxed environment, with this year seeing a large number in attendance. The exhibition location in the Stevens Building with it’s large rooms and high ceilings allowed viewers space to stand back and appreciate the work, with the view of Queensgate a perfect backdrop.
The project quality is extremely high across all students, a second visit required to truely appreciate the depth of thought and the design details in all the projects.
23 June 2018 to 1 July 2018 – Stevens Building RCA Kensington Gore London SW7 2EU
As a footnote to this piece, it is 20 years since I attended my first RCA automotive degree show as the director of Drive. One of the students exhibiting his work that evening was Andrew Jones MA RCA (below), we later employed him and I am proud to say he is still a valued member of Drive.
I can’t believe it has happened again, Heart breaking. This is my original article I wrote on 28th May 2014.
Reading the headlines on Friday evening I was dismayed to hear about the fire at the Glasgow School of Art, one of the most important and historic Art Nouveau buildings in the UK. It has been admired and critically studied by architecture historians the world over, becoming Charles Rennie MacKintosh’s most famous piece of work despite it being designed early in his relatively short career. It was considered a very bold building when constructed, but many now consider that it marked the beginning of modern architecture with its asymmetrical frontage and complete lack of adornment.
Despite its age though, there is one distinct aspect of its design that still remains highly relevant today : it was the overall coherent approach and the completeness of the design that made this design truly special.
If you were to label Mackintosh or the School of Art a brand, everything about the building was completely on message. From the relatively austere brickwork façade on the outside, to the individual details and fittings that appeared inside, every part of the building was designed to complement other parts. For example, there were no standard door handles, or gutters, or light fittings. At least not the ones on show. All these items were individually designed and manufactured for their sole use in the School of Art. Everything looks like it belongs and has been considered from the outset with the design being seen as a complete whole, not just a building made from a collection of parts. Even more special when you realise the budget was a fairly modest one.
I see cars as being very similar. They have a huge part count, but every part must contribute to the overall story which consistently reinforces the brand message. The form, the materials, the execution of every little part must live up to the customer’s expectations. Even down to how a switch feels when pressed. Whilst this isn’t surprising or revolutionary, it’s all too often overlooked, especially in an age where project costs need to be tightly controlled.
I truly hope that the fire hasn’t completely destroyed the school, and that damaged areas can sympathetically restored, so those that haven’t been able to visit can see for themselves the true depth and coherence that is apparent in this masterpiece.
For more information on the GSA, and the restoration work they are now faced with you can visit : www.gsa.ac.uk
Once again we gathered at the Goodwood Racing Circuit, having enjoyed a blast through the Sussex roads as the sun burned off the very early morning mist.
The Goodwood Breakfast Club, if you don’t already know, usually happens on the first Sunday of the summer months, with a different theme each time. This occasion being Supercar Sunday. With the sheer number of supercars on display you are almost blasé as another McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini, even De Lorean comes into sight and slightly taken aback when something shows up that you don’t recognise.
Not only is it a great way to catch up with friends and colleagues, but also a great chance to look closely at the beautiful details on these wonderful cars. No prizes for guessing the cars, but have a go anyway.
After walking around the track, a refreshing drink at the ‘The Kennels’ finishes off a thoroughly enjoyable morning.