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Chevrolet Sets New Standards For Car Special Effects In New Short Movie

Chevrolet has used video game technology to produce realistic renders of its cars in this short film.

While we’ll always prefer practical stunts in movies, there’s no denying that CGI effects are becoming more convincing. Getting human faces that convey emotions to look realistic in CGI is still proving tricky, but adding digital cars into movies is a lot easier and is starting to look eerily realistic. Chevrolet has now revealed how it utilized Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, which is usually reserved for video games, and The Mill’s Blackbird motion tracking vehicle to produce a short film called ‘The Human Race’ with live rendering augmented reality.

Watch the video showing a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in a heated race with a Chevrolet FNR autonomous concept car, and you would think that the on-screen cars are real. Well, perhaps not the latter since it doesn't exist yet. That’s not the case, however – the scenery is real, but both cars have been digitally recreated.

A behind the scenes video reveals how the only physical vehicle used was the Mill Blackbird, a motion tracking machine with an adjustable rig allowing filmmakers to insert any car model into the environment. Traditionally, the Mill Blackbird would then have to be digitally removed, but new positional tracking techniques allow the producers to use Unreal Engine to render the live vehicle.

It’s a much easier process too, allowing the directors to instantly see the final look and composition of each shot. “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."

The result is better than some movie special effects – remember the fake-looking final jump in the Gone in 60 Seconds remake, anyone? You’d be hard pressed to tell that Camaro isn’t real. It looks remarkably realistic, particularly when you look at the reflections and shadow effects.

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