In a new spot for Land Rover, INK studio in London created an elegantINK LR 80 HIRES
CG break-apart animation exposing the engineering hidden inside the
new Discovery Sport.

INK Combines CAD and Digital Art in Land Rover’s Short Film

In a new spot forLand Rover, production and post studioINKin London has created a full CG break-apart animation exposing the engineering hidden inside the company’s new Discovery Sport. An elegant combination of motion graphics and text, photoreal computer graphics and animation gives viewers an insider’s look at how the vehicle works for passengers and cargo.

As the camera moves around it, the chassis components slide apart and back together to reveal the mechanical design and build in a way that is easy and quick to understand, and visually appealing as well. “By combining technical understanding with beautiful imagery, we hoped to create an animation that remained visually engaging while clearly and accurately explaining the Discovery Sport’s packaging achievements,” saidDavid Macey, creative director at INK.

Sum of its Parts

Before starting on this commercial, INK had already produced a series of animations for Land Rover and built up a strong understanding of the product, which helped them fulfill this particular brief. In this case, they needed to draw attention to interior features pitched directly at the consumer, like the glove box and USB ports, and at the same time communicate very technical elements such as the rear suspension system, without losing viewers’ interest.


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“This spot needed to show that the Discovery’s value lies in the sum of its parts,” David said. “The things we’re highlighting in the film might be everyday objects, but they have a backstory – people have spent two or three years designing each of them, maybe longer. Our job is to bring that story to life with animation – to take something that might normally be taken for granted, and make it something really interesting.

“Because of our ongoing work with Land Rover, we regularly visit the Land Rover design studio and were able to look at some early test versions of the car. We weren’t able to photograph the car for security reasons, but could gather general references at that point.” Following the initial briefs, INK was supplied with CAD versions of the Discovery Sport model, including elements such as the suspension system and engine, however, because these had been prepared for use as engineering data, not artistic modelling, steps had to be taken to get them ready for CGI production.


CAD Data in 3D Pipelines

“One of the biggest challenges was translating the CAD data over to our 3D pipeline in 3ds Max,” David said. “The data comes through as raw models with no materials, so each piece of geometry needs to be checked or remodelled, and have textures and shaders applied.

“For that reason, the key challenge was finding the correct pipelines from the beginning to allow the translation of data to be optimised for Max, from NURBS surfaces to mesh polygons. We at first used Direct Link, before switching to PolyTrans, a 3D model, scene, NURBS and animation translator, which sped up the process considerably. We received all information direct from Land Rover, and also collaborated directly with the Design Team to make sure that correct, complete data was received for all aspects of the car.”


Also, the CAD data only included car elements related to the mechanical components of the car, in other words, only hard surface data, so that every soft surface in the car had to be remodelled. This work included all leather components, stitching in the seats, the car doors, the instrument panel – no information on these elements comes in the CAD data. To make up for the lack of information, photographic references and placeholder geometry were provided to trace off and build the soft surface models from scratch. These were quad modeled in order to allow the mapping to flow accurately over the surface of the geometry.


Once the models were ready, the animation was carefully choreographed in an animatic. The bursting apart and gradual reassembly of the various components needed to be achieved in a neat, organised way in which the overall structure of the vehicle remained readable throughout the film. “Maintaining the impact of the original explosion while ensuring that no shot became visually chaotic was a fine balancing act,” said the project directorMichael Haas. “We planned for that in the animatic stage, where we carefully choreographed the whole film.


“From there we could work on the render. It usually took us two or three V-Ray render passes to get the final frame looking good. We also did lots of still frame renders while working on the animatic, so we could plan how we were going to composite the shot using NUKE.”

David explained that Land Rover led the creative side of the lighting design themselves, and wanted the car shot in a studio environment for a product feel. A clean environment was also crucial given the break-apart structure of the action, to ensure that no background details would interfere with the visually complex nature of the sequence. “All materials and lighting were set up bespoke for each shot. We built a hero car with all elements in place, and then tailored each shot individually to be as attractive as possible,” he said.


Less Design, More Focus

“We did a pre-light with a chalk to test all the lighting, and used V-Ray blend materials to achieve accuracy and give us close control over the make-up of the material. Land Rover provided us with paint samples which we photographed in a variety of lighting conditions to allow accurate simulation of the material’s reaction to light, fleck sizes and reflectivity.

“’As little design as possible’ is a philosophy that we work to within the studio, and this ethos was at the fore in this film. Careful refinement of camera movements, choreography of the exploding elements and harmonisation of reflective materials along with application of photographic rules such as motion blur and depth of field allowed the film to bring the Discovery Sport and its components clearly into focus.”