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CGI – the all-pervading tool for the automotive marketer and designer

Paul McSweeney 13 February 2019

CGI has rightly established itself across all media; very few blockbuster films made today, for example, do without it and its pervasive nature can be seen in prestige TV shows like Game of Thrones and Westworld.

Fluid and flexible, it can be used to create whatever or wherever and is tweaked in moments. As CGI software and techniques move us ever closer to photo-realism, the lines between what’s real and what isn’t are blurred. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the automotive industry.

So much so that the extent to which it’s used in advertisements probably flies over the head of the average consumer. But this relationship has blossomed beyond that, into new, exciting realms that are streamlining the design process.

Virtual insanity

For decades a dream of the gaming industry, virtual reality has enjoyed a recent resurgence thanks to the likes of the HTC Vive Pro and PlayStation VR. Gamers don’t get to have all the fun though; VR is being used to train surgeons, explore museums, and change military training.

It’s even being used in car manufacturing and design. This McLaren video showcases how VR enables designers to adjust their creation with ease, switching between 2D and 3D models, and interior and exterior positioning. VR’s use also extends to the showroom, allowing consumers to take a car for a test drive without going out for a test drive. The showroom isn’t even needed – it can be done from the comfort of your own sofa.

Augmented reality is also making waves in the industry. Using an app, users can see a 3D CGI render of a vehicle in the real world, allowing them to envisage it on their very own driveway. It’s all configurable on the fly too; colour, wheel design, interior trim – all tweaked in real-time, giving curious customers a real sense of how their dream car will fit into their lives.

Blurred lines

While there’s still an appreciation for traditional live-action shooting of car advertisements and commercial images, we’re at a point where the car in question doesn’t even need to make the trip!

This is immeasurably useful in an industry where designs are so closely guarded prior to release, with small armies of designers slaving over every detail of their latest creations until the very last moment.

And rightfully so. CGI now enjoys such an integral relationship with the automotive industry that promotional campaigns can actually be developed in tandem with the design of the vehicle. There’s no grand tug of war between advertising and design – no push and pull of deadlines. CGI renders can be created along with the design and if anything is tweaked, it can be mirrored in the render effortlessly.

This Audi advertisement for example, with almost 3 million views, was created entirely using CGI.

It’s also eminently possible to marry CGI with live action shooting, with spectacular results. The automotive equivalent of Andy Serkis, this fully-adjustable car rig acts as a stand-in for any vehicle – just overlay your secret new vehicle in the comfort of your studio and hey presto, a launch film in any location, at any time of day, in any weather you like, with none of the security headaches that will usually beset this kind of exercise.

As CGI develops and it becomes impossible to separate real from fake, the automotive industry’s biggest names are switching on to its benefits. Not least because it’s a much cheaper alternative to filming on-location. Usage may still be in its infancy in some quarters, but the trend is undeniable, it isn’t likely to be going anywhere anytime soon.

With such a mammoth presence, you can’t ignore CGI. If you want to take advantage of the technology on offer and bring your car to life, RealtimeUK has the vast experience and unquestionable ability to perfectly recreate your design. If you’ve got a car, we’ve got a solution – get in touch with me on [email protected]