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, California, 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” shows what can be done when the two technologies are 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 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 Array 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.”
For more information about the making of “The Human Race,” visit https://youtu.be/2nWQ96ydO-I.
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.
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.