Audi A3 Sportback

September 2014 ––
Inspired by the creative application of design and technology demonstrated in BOX, Audi approached Autofuss to realize a spot that symbolized the harmony of art and engineering embodied in their vehicles. To promote Audi’s new A3 Sportback, Autofuss applied their expertise in advanced 3D projection mapping to transform a pair of robotically controlled canvasses into massive lenses that would augment the vehicle.

Rotating the mechanized vehicle between these two lenses, Autofuss accented a specific feature set available in the new Sportback, and took the challenge a step further by generating the effects practically and captured the entirety of the spot in-camera.

Munko’s involvement was once again as Design Director for the entirety of the spot, taking command over the very talented design team of Jason English Kerr, Michael Rigley, Ryan Chen, and Christoffer Bjerre – each designer tackling a specific section of the spot.. Munkowitz also played a primary role in conceiving the concept of the Augmentation Lenses and guiding the month-long pitch that ultimately led to the award of the job.

It was a huge undertaking, bringing together a massive amount of talented people to craft an extremely complex dance of design and technology, the essence of both the Autofuss and Audi brands.

The Film

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The Concept

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The Audi A3 Sportback Film is a unique showcase in advanced 3d projection mapping, utilizing the latest in art and technology. The concept of the piece is to show a man discovering the new Audi A3 in an art installation, and through lenses held by industrial robots he sees into an augmented hyper-reality. The team was projecting on circular panels held by the robots and creating the illusion that they were made of glass.

These lenses allowed the team to portray a different reality to view the car within, but also created distortions and refractions like real glass through the use of some nifty design work. It was through these lenses that we would tell the story of the A3 Sportback, highlighting each feature in it’s own setting, dictating lighting and ambience to craft an edit full of mood and beauty.
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Lightweight Body

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The first feature explored in the film was the Lightweight Body, and conceptually the team wanted to show a lightweight cage enveloping the car, which pulsed interactive light through the structure while cascading and highlighting the actual internal frame of the car.

All these elements begin pulsing in unison until the cage disassembles and floats away, again punctuating its lightweight nature and allowing the viewer a glimpse into an x-ray of the actual chasis of the A3 Sportback. 

–– Designed by Jason English Kerr

4 Cylinders on Demand

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The second feature focused on illustrating the “4-Cylinders on Demand” technology, which demonstrated the A3’s ability to selectively disengage two of its cylinders to reduce energy consumption. The team explored a variety of visualizations for speed, and the result was airflow over the vehicle coupled with luminant pistons floating beside the car. 

Mr Riggles -- the designer and animator for the section -- also led the development of the lenses’ look and built an AE comp that could be customized for each section -- what a clutch performer that handsome guy.

–– Designed by Michael Rigley

LED Headlights

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The third feature was to highlight the signature LED Headlights which can adjust their beams direction on the fly to better navigate the terrain in front of it.. Conceptually, the team thought the best way to show this was to pair the headlight beams with a tunnel enveloping the car, so wherever the beams would travel, the tunnel would also accommodate this direction.

Another fun visual element was the pulsing beams and tunnel coming into contact with the edge of the lens, refracting pulsing light around the rims of the canvases to create a rich palette of optical aberrations - which in turn added an extra element of believability to the section. 

–– Designed by Ryan Chen


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The fourth and last feature focused on the Audi's Connectivity, visually representing the cars integrated network and WiFi features.. The team illustrated this feature by crafting an orbital network constellation enveloping the car while pulsing with activity and connection lines. 

This network ultimately enveloped and immersed the character as well, creating a crescendo moment and the final projection image to remember before the pack shot brought the film to a close. 

–– Designed by Christoffer Bjerre

The Caustic Language

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The make the lens effect believable, the discs had to bend and refract light on the edges, and also cast caustics around the room.. The graphics team did extensive testing with real lenses and light refraction, paying close attention to their behaviors and figuring out graphic techniques to translate them into the projection language..

Ultimately to create these natural properties, they mounted a projector to the ceiling and created a caustics projection pass that mirrored the activity of the discs.. They also, as mentioned above, created a system in AE to warp and distort all the graphic content on the edges of the lenses using a variety of chroma separations and digital distortion effects..

The Process

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Pipeline: On the pipeline side, the master robotics animator, Anthony Enos delivered the team Alembic files fresh out of Maya. We then integrated the robots’ motion into the Cinema 4D scenes which would be sent off to AE for comp with the car plates. The finished comps were then sent over to the team on set, capturing the final shot.

Projection Content: The design team delivered the projections at 4K, which made the visuals almost 'too real' to believe it was a projection and not done in post.. The team also shot the actual car during pre-production using their motion-control system, and then reprojected it back onto the discs with their supporting graphics, again creating a realism in the car render that would've been impossible in CG.

Behind the Scenes: Autofuss’s lovely editor Ashley Rodholm put together a comprehensive behind the scenes piece, breaking down the complex processes occurring on set and outlining some of the creative and technical challenges in the spot — a must watch.. The one thing about Autofuss is you know they’re gonna have an epic process video to document all the hard work.
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Concept, Design Director

at Autofuss
for Audi Italy
Audi A3 Sportback Credit List

Client: AUDI
Agency: Verba
Production Company: Indiana Pictures, Autofuss, Bot & Dolly
Executive Creative Director: Randall Stowell
Director: Chris Brown
Creative Technologist: Tarik Abdel-Gawad
Design Director: Bradley G. Munkowitz
Roboticist: Asa Hammond
Director of Photography: Joe Picard
Design & Animation: Christopher Bjerre, Ryan Chen, Jason Kerr, Mike Rigley, Anthony Enos
Editor: Ashley Rodholm
Assistant Editor: Ian Colon
Executive Producer: Micah Gendron
Producer: Yovel Schwartz, Alison Plansky, Anastassia Babanskaia
Engineers: Matthew Bitterman, Michael Beardsworth, Ian Sherman
Robot Operators: Matt McDonald, Aron Pruiett, Patrick Walsh
Projectionist: Phil Reyneri
Visual Effects Supervisor: Matt McDonald
VFX Artist: Ben Hawkins
Colorist: Chris Martin
Coordinator: Johnny Carroll
Production Supervisor: Geoffrey Sawyer
Assistant Camera: Dean Snodgrass
Talent: Ryan Waters
Electronic Lighting Designer: Tom Thompson
Gaffer: Frank Strzalkawoski
Key Grip: Dave Childers
Electric: Alyssa Moran, Oscar Ness, Mick Burns
Grip: Robert “Boomer” McCann
Best Boy Electric: Chris ShellenbergerBest
Boy Grip: Don Hendersen
VTR: Andy Neddermeyer
Touch Up Artist: Jim Edelhauser
Art/Fabrication: Bryan Dewe, Ben Golub
Wardrobe/Make-up: Lisa Zomer
Set Design: Sean House
Craft Services: Michelle Kitagawa
Production Assistants: Sean Servis, Dakota Smith, Christopher Scott, Scott Badovick
Sound Recording/Sound Design/Mix: Tom Disher
Music: Sizzer