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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.