The Bowtie uses video game tech so that it can render commercials with alternate reality in real time.
Next time you watch a Chevrolet commercial, realize that one of the Bowtie's vehicles might not really be on screen. During the Game Developers Conference, the automaker is revealing how it uses the Epic Games’ Unreal Engine that's usually for video games and The Mill’s amazing Blackbird to make an ad with live rendering augmented reality, which makes the production process even quicker.
Upon seeing the first few seconds of the video above, you might think that a Camaro ZL1 is on the road with Chevy’s FNR concept. However, both vehicles are completely digital, and the scenery around them is real. If you could strip away the computer-aided trickery, then the Mill's amazing Blackbird would be the only thing on the street – these special machines have an adjustable wheelbase that let them mimic any vehicle imaginable.
Traditional postproduction would require replacing the Blackbird after shooting a video, but the new process uses positional tracking that lets creators render the final vehicle live thanks to the Unreal Engine. The result of this augmented reality tech is a much easier job for a clip's producers because rather than waiting to see how things turn out, the new innovation lets them see a shot’s composition in real time. It makes for a cool video, too.
“This is a pivotal moment for film VFX and the coming era of augmented reality production,” Angus Kneale, Chief Creative Officer at The Mill in New York, said in the announcement. “Using Unreal’s cutting-edge game engine technology, filmmakers are able to see their photoreal digital assets on location in real time. It also means the audience can effect change in films in ways previously unimagined, giving interactive control over vehicles, characters and environments within a live action cinema experience."
It’s amazing how well this tech can render shadows and reflections on the cars. There’s something about the effect on the FNR that makes the concept look slightly artificial in this clip, but the Camaro looks like a real car. Unfortunately, Chevy’s video doesn’t do a fantastic job of showing exactly how this magic happens. Viewers get a great look at the Blackbird, but we’d like to get a better idea of the transition from the raw film and the transformation into the ZL1 for this clip.
Epic Games, The Mill and Chevrolet Unveil Real-time Film
The Unreal Engine, Virtual Production Technology, and an Iconic Brand Come Together in “The Human Race”, a Real-time Short Film and AR Presentation
San Francisco—(March 1, 2017)—Epic Games, The Mill and Chevrolet have joined forces to revolutionize the conventions of digital filmmaking with “The Human Race,” a short film and augmented reality (AR) presentation debuting today at the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, Calif, as part of Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney’s opening presentation.
Combining an advanced implementation of Epic’s Unreal Engine with The Mill’s proprietary virtual production toolkit, Mill Cyclops™, “The Human Race” merges real-time visual effects and live-action storytelling. The combined technologies were pushed beyond the limits of existing real-time rendering capabilities to produce a futuristic film that features the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in a heated race with the Chevrolet FNR autonomous concept car.
The only physical vehicle filmed for “The Human Race” was the Mill BLACKBIRD®, a fully adjustable rig that enables filmmakers to insert almost any car model into any filmed environment. Until now, CG cars were added by visual effects artists in post-production, requiring days of rendering to produce high-quality imagery. During this shoot, however, live video feeds as well as positional data from the Arraiy tracking system were fed directly into Unreal Engine. The Camaro was then rendered and composited seamlessly into the footage in real-time AR, allowing the directors to instantly see the final look and composition of each shot.
The same real-time technology was used to create, alter and produce the short film, blurring the lines between production and post. The ability to create ‘final pixels’ in real time will ultimately change the way filmmakers create content and make critical decisions.
A live recreation of the AR visualization was also shown during Epic’s presentation, offering an up-close view of the real-time tech used to produce the project.
‘“The Human Race’ blends cinematic storytelling and real-time visual effects to define a new era of narrative possibilities,’ said Angus Kneale, Chief Creative Officer at The Mill in New York. “This is a pivotal moment for film VFX and the coming era of augmented reality production. Using Unreal’s cutting-edge game engine technology, filmmakers are able to see their photoreal digital assets on location in real time. It also means the audience can effect change in films in ways previously unimagined, giving interactive control over vehicles, characters and environments within a live action cinema experience. With Mill Cyclops™, The Mill’s proprietary virtual production toolkit, we are able to render and integrate digital assets into the real world to a level never seen before.”
”Find New Roads is more than just a tagline at Chevrolet. We embrace that mission in the advanced engineering of our cars, and also in the way we service and communicate with our customers,” said Sam Russell, General Director of Global Chevrolet Marketing. “’The Human Race’ brings a lot of those ideals together. The technology involved in producing this film provides a glimpse into the future of customer engagement and could play a unique role in how we showcase car model options with interactive technologies like AR and VR.”
“We’re always thrilled to showcase the levels of innovation our customers can achieve in Unreal Engine,” said Kim Libreri, CTO, Epic Games. “Today’s presentation demonstrates what’s possible when combining live action with the power of Unreal Engine’s real-time photorealistic rendering capabilities—essentially taking the ‘post’ out of post-production.”
The film was conceived by The Mill and Chevrolet to kick off a multi-platform campaign marking the 50th anniversary of the Camaro. For more information about the making of “The Human Race” visit:
ABOUT THE MILL
The Mill is a visual effects and content creation studio collaborating on projects for the advertising, gaming and music industries. We pride ourselves on building partnerships based on creative excellence and cutting-edge technologies, with the world’s leading agencies, groundbreaking directors, creative firms and visionary brands.
Our work is built on the bedrock of cinematic legacy. We produce visually driven projects for any screen and build awe-inspiring interactive and immersive experiences.
At its core, The Mill is a creative culture of talented artists and technologists from multinational and homegrown backgrounds, nurturing innovation, flexibility and diverse ideas. This enables us to offer creative solutions across all our studios in London, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
For the past 26 years, The Mill has been consistently recognized by peers and clients for delivering outstanding work and has earned the most prestigious industry awards for craft, creativity and innovation. Our most recent accolades include a Cannes Gold Lion for Innovation and a SXSW Innovation award, amongst scores of D&AD Pencils, Cannes Lions, APAs, British Arrows, AICPs, CLIOs and VES statues.
For more information, please visit www.themill.com or contact Head of Marketing & PR, Isabelle Du Plessis email@example.com
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling more than 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.
ABOUT UNREAL ENGINE
Unreal Engine is a high-performance software development suite, created by Epic Games, that brings real-time, high-fidelity fully interactive experiences to PC, console, mobile and virtual reality (VR) platforms. Used by many of the world's leading entertainment software developers and publishers, Unreal Engine is also an integral part of many enterprise sectors. The Unreal Engine enterprise team supports and nurtures vertical markets that make use of real-time technology within their processes. Industries such as automotive, architecture, film, science, aerospace, marketing and education all use real-time technology to create immersive user experiences. Unreal Engine is freely available at unrealengine.com. Follow @UnrealEngine on Twitter for updates.