A diversion on my commute with the low winter sun piercing through the beautiful early morning mist, reminded me of the last time I drove this road. It was with a colleague, who had his lovely Peugeot 205 GTi out of ‘storage’, to take a few photographs while the forest was alive with intense autumn colour.
The car hadn’t been used regularly and was obviously as keen as we were to venture out into the cold, reluctantly coughing and spluttering its way to the forest a few miles from our studio. This only added to the charm of a 25 year old car, but once woken it was itching to blast up the road with a perfect wake of leaves in its trail.
All the classic smells and sounds you’d expect were filling the interior: the distinct smell of ageing interior trim, mixed with the fumes of the engine running slightly too rich. There was the lovely basic clunk of switches with slight vagueness to the doors closing shut, all built in a time before VW et al started damping switches and engineering doors to close with the perfect sound. The engine was running a little rough but with some judicious use of the throttle it pulled strongly up the hills with a lovely exhaust tone. A basic car by modern standards, but one which completely connected on an emotional level.
Had I just been overcome with a huge dose of nostalgia? Perhaps. But it was a beautiful reminder how simple things once were. There were no complications understanding what this car was about: There were no large air vents, large exhausts, outrageously large wheels, or huge bulging fenders that tried to suggest it was more powerful than it was. It was only the addition of the restrained but instantly recognisable wheel arch spats, the red pinstripe graphics, and the all-important ‘GTi’ badge that indicated this was the car to have.
The advertising made little reference to 0-60 times, or power outputs, only referring to how it would literally stick to the corners and boldly claiming how similar it was to a Porsche 911 in terms of driving pleasure. But they were right, so much so its reputation quickly spread through magazine reviews and word of mouth, creating a following that advertising can’t buy. They exceeded on all their promises.
There were no contradictions with the car, and Peugeot got it spot on.
Even now, with a little help from that morning sublime light, the car’s handsome exterior still looks great. With the bright oranges and yellows of the leaves, I couldn’t help but recall one of Peugeot’s most famous car adverts – that of the 205’s older brother, the 405 driving along the edge of a field, literally on fire to the soundtrack of ‘Take my breath away’.
What a backdrop, and what a car. I suspect my colleague will be keeping this example for a long long time.
It is a historic moment for Drive as the Limited Edition Drive E10R from Zenos takes to the road carrying the Drive logo, on the distinctive new colour and trim package with Charged Graphite colour, black anodised chassis and additional equipment that makes this the fastest Zenos yet.
This is the first time ‘designed by Drive’ has appeared on a car, and it is a great honour. With Zenos recognising the importance of the design in their success, they are keen to celebrate the relationship with Drive who penned their car, by displaying ‘designed by Drive’ on the buttress.
“Zenos Cars has a long standing relationship with the team at Drive and the E10R provided the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate our partnership. Who better to style and detail our range topping product than the brilliant team that designed it from the outset?” enthused Mark Edwards, CEO of Zenos Cars.
Lead designer Mark Przeslawski commented “The Drive edition E10R had to stand out from the rest of the E10 range, being one of the most exciting cars you can drive we had to inject this emotion into its appearance. As designers we are passionate about everything down to the last detail, being able to have the freedom of paint finishes and colour schematics gave us the scope to create the ultimate E10R.”
With the drive team all very keen drivers it is appropriate that it should be the fastest Zenos yet that carries the Drive Logo. The Drive Edition E10R is track-ready, with adjustable suspension, updated brakes and 6-speed transmission, with race harnesses. It’s track-quick, too, with 500 bhp/tonne serving up 60 mph in as little as 3 seconds, and masses of torque available throughout the rev range.
Designer Gareth Culverhouse commented “The visual expression of the car is completely different, and this is all down to the colour and trim we chose in-house, it’s how we always envisioned a Zenos should be. We used a range of dark finishes and deep metallic paint to give the car a sinister but premium feel, whilst the contrast of the yellow graphics adds visual drama.”
This partnership between Drive and Zenos can be seen as the beginning of a long term relationship akin to that of Pininfarina and Ferrari.
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.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
The Internet of Things – electronic devices communicating to each other via the internet mean that we are able to go seemlessly from one area of our lives to the next. Leave the house and the heating lowers, music system turns off, but the same song is playing on your smart phone. On entering your car the music switches to the car sound system, social accounts are accessed and made available, eradicating the need to refer to mobile devices, the accessibility of these being limited to suitable times for safety reasons, and emergency alerts passed on at an appropriate time.
TECHNOLOGY IN CAR INTERIORS
The advancement of technology in the consumer market is incredibly quick, and rapid product cycles allow for these updates to be incorporated swiftly into new and updated products such as mobile phones. In the automotive industry one of the largest components, and therefore one with the longest lead times, is the dashboard and instrument panel, and this means that the technology is evolving quicker than is always possible to incorporate in the latest car. This combined with the longer life cycle of a car than say a mobile device means that the ability of car manufacturers to keep a pace with developments is difficult.
Therefore automotive companies are obviously looking at ways to incorporate these products, such as tablets, into their interiors in order to use the latest technology releases.
What is clear is devices are designed for their intended environment and use, and when they are substituted into other environments like a car interior, at the very least their effectiveness is reduced, through to being totally impractical or downright dangerous. Also this narrow approach where it seems all that needs to happen is to create a device carrier in the centre console, is missing opportunities to make the technology work to improve the experience of the car driver.
SCALING and FILTERING INTERFACE
The single physical control is to filter information, and increase or decrease the amount information the driver requires. The touch screen buttons enlarge due to frequency of use and move closer to the driver thus tailoring the switch layout to the individual’s needs.
How the relevant information is displayed from display area to heads up display, depends on the relevance of the data to driver or passenger.
We actively look for opportunities for collaboration with other consultancies, and on this occasion we teamed up with The Division, a leading product design company run by David Tonge, to undertake a design research study for a major Japanese company. We combined our particular areas of expertise and David’s in-depth understanding of Japan, to provide a comprehensive analysis.
Our study and outputs proved to be very thought provoking and challenged the client design teams to rethink their approach to the interaction between drivers and passengers, and their vehicle.
This way of working, combining expertise from different disciplines, is a rewarding experience, and getting the chance to work with teams like The Division extremely enjoyable.
All rights reserved Drive Inc. Ltd & The Division UK Ltd www.the-division.com
Faraday Future have launched their concept of the future at CES 2016, and the vehicle shown has everybody giving an opinion, not only the concept behind it, but whether Faraday Future met each individual’s expectations that were raised by the FF publicity machine in the build up to launch.
Many may have missed the message, that underneath the show car is a clever platform leading to what they believe will change how cars are produced in the future.
The debate on social and professional media is good for the automotive industry, with the catalyst of newcomers like Faraday Future raising expectations with ambitious plans.
Established auto and product / technology brands will be keeping a close eye on companies like NextEV and Faraday Future, to make sure they are not missing a trick, but they know history shows it is difficult for new comers, for every Tesla there is a Fisker.