How we made “the greatest car configurator ever built”
For the launch of the new MDX 2020, Acura decided to create a highly detailed and engaging digital experience for the flagship SUV. Working alongside Acura's agency partner, Possible, ZeroLight helped create a bespoke solution designed to offer exploration and configuration of both the interior and exterior, with a hand-picked selection of configuration options in both stages. ZeroLight rendered all content used within the experience, while Possible led the development and website integration.
The solution is now live on Acura's US website.
Combining offline and real-time rendering
Acura provided a specific reference shot of another model's interior as a guideline for this solution. To ensure this was accurately matched, ZeroLight adopted an artistic, agency-style approach that saw it use a range of different techniques. While the exterior of the digital twin model was rendered in the company's cloud-based content production platform, SpotLight, ZeroLight chose to render the interior of the model offline.
This decision was based on a number of factors. In the experience, the exterior of the car is shown via a 360⁰ ‘spinner', which means that the user orbits around the model to view it from multiple angles. To produce the numerous images required for this to work, the scalability of real-time rendering is essential, as it enables the art team to quickly generate large batches of high-quality assets. For the interior, however, only one image per configuration option was required, as the user explores from a single, fixed point within the car. This meant ZeroLight's artists were able to use offline techniques to optimise every pixel to match the reference shot with highest quality output possible.
Multiple renders of the interior, each with different lighting conditions, were composited together so the artist could match the specific details of the reference shot. This composite render was optimised with colour grading and tone mapping to ensure that the materials, lighting, and reflections were accurate in every section of the 360⁰ image.
This interactive image gives a demonstration of the end result.
High-speed, not just high-quality
A key requirement of the project was ensuring the result would be responsive for all users. This was another important factor in the project's development. Building the solution via pre-rendered 2D images ensured that this requirement would be met, as it maximises the potential audience by avoiding the bottle neck of the end users' device bandwidth. Crucially, this ensures that even users with slower connections can enjoy a high-end, responsive experience.
This project was made possible due to ZeroLight's sophisticated content creation platform and services. While often used for standalone assets, the platform can be adapted to produce a range of powerful configuration, exploration, and advertising experiences that deliver photorealistic content on any device.