Phone cover specialists Tech 21’s mission is simple: “to create the most intelligent impact protection on the planet”. The design, engineering and R&D teams use the latest science and own cutting-edge manufacturing facilities and materials to make this happen.
The challenge was to create a positive experience which required the consumer to be pushed outside their comfort zone whilst demonstrating the extraordinary capabilities of the product.
Working in conjunction with Because xm, Austella was commissioned to create a short 360 animatic video that would take users through various dramatically-enhanced phone-dropping scenarios throughout a home to demonstrate and showcase the resilience of Tech 21’s products.
The experience was used as part of a pop-up installed in shopping centres and trade shows throughout the UK, US and Australia to highlight the products in an innovative way.
The Technical Challenge
This was an incredibly short project for the scope of the brief, which meant we couldn’t rely on the tried and tested rendering techniques we’d previously relied upon. Rendering of CGI 360 experiences is a lengthy task – roughly 30 minutes to 2 hours per frame, which equates to 7200 frames i.e. 150 – 600 days of rendering. The cost of render farms is not insignificant, and a balance has to be struck; we needed an alternative method to render this experience that would deliver the project on time and within budget.
Overcoming the Challenge
We used Unreal Engine 4 for the project and devised a plan to capture the 360 footage ‘live’, so as opposed to rendering the video, we would play it through the engine and essentially record it in real time. Unreal Engine 4 has the functionality to capture 2D footage but not 360. The answer was to create a bespoke plugin that enabled us to record in full 360. However, the time taken to record in real time was still high, at least in the resolution we were aiming for, so we created a script that enabled each PC in the office to record a small segment of the overall experience and later stitch each piece of the footage together.
The resultant experience was close, but not as high quality as we would see from a dedicated renderer, therefore to achieve this we had to create new post-effects methods to raise the quality of the end delivery.
Over the course of the project there were 5.5k VR experiences taken with 52k positive engagements.
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