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.
There was a very interesting presentation this week by the McLaren Automotive design studio, held at the new Ascot McLaren showroom. The select guests were party to an intimate occasion with the design team who were revealing some of the decision making processes and design activities involved in producing the Sports Series.
Design operations manager Mark Roberts, who is one of the forces behind the initiative, introduced the evening before handing over to Rob Melville, chief designer, who gave an insightful presentation on their approach to understanding the brand and producing a design that encapsulates everything McLaren stands for.
What was intriguing about this presentation, and evening as a whole, was the apparent move to change how McLaren is perceived. Anyone who has been to McLaren’s technical centre cannot fail to be impressed by the experience, where meticulous attention to detail is everywhere – from the clinically clean Formula 1 car assembly bays to the alignment of the visitor book pens. This precision and technical approach has made McLaren Racing the incredible championship winning team it is, and laid the foundation for producing its dynamic and technically brilliant road cars.
So what was different about the presentation – personality. The event at a showroom, not technical centre, designers mixing with guests in a relaxed atmosphere with a presentation showing individual’s hobbies and design influences of sharks – nature influencing the form not drag co-efficient figures. The original MP4-12C’s message of incredible aerodynamics and stability through corners was there, but the language used was now different. McLaren’s success is down to Ron Dennis’ focus and drive for perfection, but it is the Bruce McLaren story being used to win over the hearts, in addition to the minds, of drivers.
Senior designer Paul Howse on this occasion went through the process from sketch to production, with interesting asides on the ‘friendly’ discussions between design and engineering and the continual defining and refining of the sculpted surfaces, an entertaining description that kept everyone’s attention throughout.
With the showroom divided in to design studio, alias modelling office, clay modelling area, future technologies of Oculus and augmented reality, the full complement of McLaren models on display and the design ‘family’ on hand to answer questions and demonstrate skills, it was a very slick and well-judged presentation.
The Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall is a very fitting place for the Royal College of Art to display their Anglo-American Emeritus Design Competition.
Founded in 1897 with the aim of encouraging the development of motoring in Britain, today the Royal Automobile Club is one of London’s finest private members’ clubs, with its magnificent galleried hall.
The invited guests were treated to a display of fifteen design concepts created by first-year students studying at the Royal College of Art Vehicle Design faculty.
Set up on easels and displayed as works of art, the projects were well received by the judging panel of Club members and industry experts.
Standing beside his design winner Pontus Merkel, an ex-industrial design student from Umeå, Sweden said: ‘This is my first trophy and to receive it from the Royal Automobile Club is quite an honour. This gives me a great deal of confidence; I am humbled and thankful for this award.’