From UX design to 3D creation we were responsible for every aspect of the build from top to bottom. And in just a little under 2 months we managed to deliver a fully working AR app just in time for the Shanghai Motorshow as was requested.
It was an extraordinary achievement for us given the circumstances, which is why this project shines as a testament to our expertise and management process that we were able to do so much in so little time.
Since the GTC4Lusso was still a very new car at the time there were no existing 3D model for us to go on and we had to build it all from scratch. The only thing we were provided were some production CAD files from Ferrari and a handful of reference images, then it was up to us to make usable 3D assets out of them.
Since we were dealing with production level CAD files that were extremely complex and detailed in nature, we felt the need to invest the time in establishing an asset pipeline that could properly handle this conversion process reliably. There is still a lot of manual labor involved in dealing with CAD of this complexity, but after a week or so we ended up with a workflow that delivered satisfactory results in terms of both quality and efficiency.
Ever since then this conversion process has been an indispensable part of our production process, especially when dealing with cars.
Before the release of Apple and Google’s now ubiquitous APIs, implementing AR wasn’t always such a straightforward proposition. Back then it took a lot more effort just to get things like camera tracking to function properly and often it was still shaky and imprecise. This called for a bit of technical creativity on our end in order to find ways to compensate for these shortcomings.
As mentioned we were attempting a life-sized, 1:1 ratio AR car which required more processing power and camera fidelity than most phones had at the time. This made it mandatory for us to design a marker that was easy for even an average, run-of-the-mill device to comfortably track with it’s camera.
Using the third party AR tracking API Vuforia we worked to identify the type of image that would best achieve this. Generally speaking something with a lot of unique, non-repeating visual identifiers works best for the tracking algorithm, but beyond that we still had to come up with a design that a luxury brand like Ferrari would be happy with - not an easy task as you might have guessed. We ended up with over a dozen iterations before we hit on a design that was both on brand and functional as a marker.
Creating a car from scratch is a big undertaking, even more so when it’s for real-time usage. Cars are immensely intricate objects that require a high level of polygonal detail to articulate properly in 3D, not to mention the complex shiny metal material needed to makes the overall presentation convincing.
When creating assets for real time usage on mobile every piece of optimisation helps. Perhaps the single biggest factor in the performance equation is the polygon count of the model itself. This kind of “low-poly” modeling requires a certain level of technical artistry to achieve, but luckily for us we have just the right people in our network to handle this sort of thing.
As the car asset was being created our developers were busy writing custom shader code in order to make convincing metal material run at a reduced performance cost, as well as cleaning up the overall image quality with some post processing tweaks.
Unfortunately we were not able to attend the show in Shanghai but we were told that it was a great success. Booth attendees were handed 12.9” iPad Pros and got to experience the Ferrari GTC4Lusso as though it was there ahead of its release in China.
After the show we were commissioned by Happy Finish again to create version 2 of the app to be released to the general public.. This also included a second vehicle - the new GTC4LussoT front wheel drive model.
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