A recent boom in new buzz phrases have hit the automotive world, one of which I would like to discuss is ‘VR’. Virtual reality is something of which I was quite sceptical of at first, and partly still am, however here at Drive we now have a fantastic HTC Vive set up to which we are all becoming accustomed to using in our day to day work.
So how have we facilitated the use of the VR set up within the studio? We are always finding new ways to use it, but within the realms of being a beneficial tool rather than being a slave to it. A good example is the recent Bugatti concept that you may have seen flying through the social media high ways, a personal project started by Adrian Biggins, one of our alias modellers.
Projects like this are an important to everyone at Drive, with our passion for automotive design and especially for anything that goes fast is in our DNA. With Adrian showing me what he was up to, I jumped on board his project, being unable to resist getting involved with something as extreme as this. We worked together to design, resolve and refine the concept simultaneously combining our work flows through Photoshop, Alias and via Unity – VR. A truly harmonious spectacle to behold!
The use of VR is a great tool to check the design through the modelling development process and helps both modeller and designer. An instant tool at our finger tips that allowed us to critique and rapidly develop the concept, producing a better result in a quicker time frame. As a tool VR makes you aware of the digital model issues you normally only realise when you are standing in front of a full scale clay. I am a firm believer in the development of a physical model, and VR is a benefit to allow any studio to start physical modelling stage from a more advanced point, speeding up the process and saving time.
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.
As August approaches our creative team are beginning to get the usual requests to produce animations and visuals for the 2017 Monaco Yacht Show in September.
It is 10 years since we exhibited at Monaco, and ever since we have regularly supported companies with their marketing imagery and animations.
Drive have always shared the expertise and methodologies gained in automotive design with other product and transportation studios. Our aim is to provide a quality service, building our reputation of bringing real value to new clients. All knowledge gained from other industries is then incorporated into our work flows and brings benefit to all our clients across all sectors.
Working with yacht manufacturers’ marketing teams as well as supporting brokers, naval architects and yacht design consultancies, is an enjoyable experience allowing our creative team to work on projects without 4 wheels.
Imagine positioning a camera when you don’t know the exact position of the subject, you do know it won’t be there for several months and the client is demanding an image within 3 weeks. So you decide on the CGI route only to discover that there is no data available of Virgin Galactic’s Space Ship Two.
At that point, photographer Richard Seymour came to Drive CGI Studio to deliver a fast, cost effective and flexible process for producing the high quality images required whilst maintaining art direction freedom throughout.
As Richard flew out to the Spaceport America site in New Mexico to capture the back plates and HDR images for domes, Drive’s expert team of modellers got on with creating the 3d data Spacecraft from scratch using information gleaned from the web.
Richard’s photographs were transferred to the studio before he had said his farewells, and Drive’s creative team set about finalising the environment using early volume models in the scene to match camera angles ready for further creative input.
The digital 3d model was completed, textures and finishes applied and then dropped into the virtual environment. Once the creative direction and images were completed, the final retouching was applied.
No chance? On release, on time, on budget.
These CGI renders feature Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Photography and art direction by Richard Seymour, CGI work by Drive CGI, Retouching by Nick Humphries.
These images are strictly not for reproduction without permission. Virgin and Virgin Galactic are registered trademarks.
Whilst out shooting backplates for some still images, I took the opportunity to collect some for some drive promotional pieces.
These particular shots lent themselves to some ideas we had been dicussing in the studio.
See some of our recent work here CGI STUDIO