Don’t be alarmed -- no Chevys were harmed in this reality.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Camaro, Chevrolet is releasing an augmented-reality film born of its partnership with video game developer Epic Games and The Mill, a London-based virtual reality studio. Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney was set to present the film, A Human Race, at the Game Developers Conference on Wednesday in San Francisco to display the fruits of the three-way collaboration.
The 2½-minute film pulls viewers into a race between the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Chevrolet FNR autonomous concept car in a story arc with which science-fiction fans are all too familiar. In the race of evolving technology, is it man or machine that dominates?
“The ZL1 wins,” Sam Russell, Chevrolet’s general director of global marketing, told Automotive News. “Humans win over AI in our version of events.”
The film is just one cog in a multiplatform marketing campaign around the Camaro’s anniversary that will continue throughout the year. It is the latest in a growing trend of automakers blending augmented-reality technologies into their marketing outreach.
Only one physical vehicle was used in Chevy’s high-octane film: The Mill’s Blackbird. The Blackbird is a fully adjustable rig that can take the form of practically any car through computer-generated imagery.
The Mill designed the Blackbird so that its chassis length and width can be adjusted with the touch of a button to mimic the dimensions of the vehicles it depicts.
In the film, Epic’s Unreal Engine is combined with The Mill’s proprietary virtual production toolkit, Mill Cyclops, to produce the visuals. Unreal Engine software generates images in “final pixel” quality instantaneously, live-rendering the images so they can be seen or manipulated in real time by the director.
“When the director is on a shoot, and he’s looking at the Blackbird on screen, it’s maneuvering the way he wants it to maneuver, what he actually sees through the viewfinder is already the Camaro ZL1 or already the FNR because it renders it live,” Russell said. “You actually see it all at once.”
Chevrolet sales were down 1.4 percent in 2016, pulling in 2,096,510 compared with 2,125,347 in 2015. Camaro sales slipped 6.2 percent in 2016. Sales fell another 30 percent to 8,246 deliveries for the nameplate during the first two months of 2017, GM said Wednesday.
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