London production studio and virtual reality experts Rewind have connected 66 guests from Los Angeles and London in a real-time VR experience for the launch of Jaguar’s new electric car.
Selected guests of the LA Auto Show were able to watch a live broadcast by three presenters before experiencing the interior and exterior of Jaguar’s I-PACE Concept car in real-time and with the ability to interact with each other – all from VR hubs based in the two cities.
Rewind, with creative input from Jaguar’s agency Imagination, used HTC Vive Business Edition headsets and Dell Precision workstations. 3D animators worked in Unity to create the experience of sitting in the driver’s seat and previewing the exterior of the vehicle – all whilst having a 360-degree view of Miami beach.
Rewind claim it’s the first and largest time virtual reality has been used to unite geographically separate groups in a multiverse launch. The creative agency has worked on a number of VR projects, including a spacewalk for BBC educational channels, and a music piece for Bjork’s single Notget.
We spoke to chief executive and founder of Rewind Sol Rogers about the I-PACE Concept launch– one of their most challenging projects yet.
Miriam Harris: How did you connect the HTC Vive’s to unite both London and Los Angeles guests for a live VR experience?
Sol Rogers: We had to develop a completely bespoke solution - a central server handled the relative positions of all headsets in the virtual space, and special content servers streamed the presenters to both locations in LA and London around the world directly into the VR world. A complex network on-site in both locations ensured that each user could see and hear everyone else in VR.
MH: Talk us through the creative process of building the Jaguar for VR.
SR: The experience was designed in Unity as real-time 3D assets. We had to go through a large optimisation process of Jaguar’s high-poly car data down to something of a usable level for a real-time experience. Alongside that, we had to understand that this was to be the media’s first view of the new Jaguar and first impressions mean so much.
We worked on an extensive phase of R&D, creating new and innovative workflows in 3D packages such as Autodesk Max and Maya and render engines such as Corona, alongside bespoke Unity code and shader work to get the most photo-realistic look possible.
SR: This process was not only for the exterior and interior or that car, but all the intricate componentry that told the story of this car - from the unique Jaguar suspension, to the complex battery cells and structural casing that made this a unique departure from the Jaguar’s to date.
MH: How was this real-time, multi-user project different from your other work?
SR: The amount of technical layers, the detail and precision needed to pull this off had never been seen before. Some VR cynics have voiced concerns on the impact VR will have on the social fabric of society. The I-PACE launch provides a counter to this argument - it’s just one of many VR experiences that are being designed to be enjoyed with others.
The bigger vision for VR is not singular experiences that cut you off from others but experiences that bring people together. We connected people in LA and London in a social VR experience where everyone could see each other within the experience and interact with each other, plus the presenters. This is the future of product launches.
MH: Can we expect more projects of similar nature from you in the future?
SR: We are constantly looking for challenging projects; we get a thrill from pushing the boundaries. We always say, “If we can think it, we can build it”! More and more brands are opening up to the thought of VR and we hope projects like Home - a VR spacewalk, and the I-PACE launch will inspire other brands to use VR to tell their stories.
Whilst we have been focusing on VR for a while now, it’s not our only passion. The HoloLens is a piece of technology that has got everyone in the office excited and we’re already developing for it.