How we used real-time and car reskinning techniques to showcase Mazda’s MX-30 SUV

We joined forces with Redwood BBDO to create two campaigns for the Mazda MX-30. The first took place at the end of 2019 and involved the VFX team reskinning the all-new electric SUV. In addition to this, they were recently briefed to create visual assets to showcase the vehicle's unique design features for Mazda Stories. These were done using real-time rendering and Unreal Engine. We caught up with The Mill's Creative Director of real-time VFX, Russell Tickner and Senior Producer Colin Oaten, to discuss the project brief and the benefits of using real-time and reskinning cars.
Work November 23, 2020

What was the initial brief from Mazda?

Russell Tickner: Part of the creative brief was to create a visual exploration of the car and its design features. With its real-time rendering and Automotive toolset, Unreal Engine was the ideal tool. The instant feedback is liberating for a CG artist. It’s an immersive tool that allows me to find, lens and light shots, try different settings, times of day, focus pulls, light reveals, etc.

I also looked at different rendering techniques, such as toon outlines, wireframe and post-process effects. This became an offline of rushes, a starting point that we developed collaboratively while working separately through the lockdown.

Through working with the agency, the shots were refined and developed to the point where we rendered the final pixels out of Unreal.

Asset rendered in Unreal Engine

Asset rendered in Unreal Engine

What are the benefits of using Realtime to create this kind of asset?

Colin Oaten: Once you have the model in Realtime, you have a lot of flexibility to create a lot of content in a fraction of the time it would take to do traditionally. It is perfect for social and online content at the very least.

In addition to exploring the design of the MX-30 with Realtime assets, you also did some car reskinning work for its commercial, how can the reskinning process benefit automotive clients?

Colin Oaten: The reskinning option gives clients flexibility. They may not be able to have the newest model on set, or the car in the right colour. As long as the model is similar in design, and has the same wheelbase, we have flexibility in CG to create the updated model.

Car Reskinning

Get in touch with our VFX team for any upcoming projects via our Contact Page and read Mazda ‘Philosophy of the Future’ for a full breakdown of Mazda’s MX-30.