The Mill Races Towards A Unique Collaboration With Chevrolet And Epic Games

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March 01, 2017
The Human Race blends live action, cinematic storytelling with the new canvas of AR production.
The Mill Races Towards A Unique Collaboration With Chevrolet And Epic Games
  • One of the most exciting debuts from this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) is a short film collaboration between Chevrolet, Epic Games, and The Mill, a Technicolor company.

The Mill joined forces with Epic Games and Chevrolet to revolutionize the conventions of digital filmmaking with The Human Race, a short film that debuted at GDC 2017.

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®. 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 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 photo real 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 written and directed by The Mill’s Rama Allen and Westley Sarokin.