MGX Studios, Formula 1, Autonomy Leverage disguise to Drive Virtual Production Commercial
To advertise the launch of the Istanbul Financial Center (IFC) in January 2022, Istanbul film production company Autonomy partnered with auto racing’s Formula 1 on a dynamic commercial featuring virtual production by MGX Studios and powered by the disguise Extended Reality (xR) workflow.
Holding 1.4 million square meters of office space, a shopping mall, conference and exhibition centre and a five-star hotel, the IFC is a founding partner of the Formula 1 Rolex Turkish Grand Prix 2021. The metaphor of the IFC as a Formula 1 race car “driving forward the world of finance” provided a high-energy scenario for a commercial promoting its imminent opening.
The commercial features extreme close-ups of a Formula 1 race car cockpit, complete with revving sound design, as the vehicle speeds through Istanbul and glimpses of the IFC are reflected on the driver’s helmet visor.
Since the race car and driver are seen in extreme close-ups, Autonomy was eager to shoot the commercial using virtual production. The production company approached Turkey’s first virtual production facility, MGX Studios, to simulate the Formula 1 vehicle and capture the beauty and modernity of the IFC site.
“Together with the Autonomy team we wanted to create a production that looked great quickly, using all the amazing possibilities provided by virtual production technology and disguise. The xR features provided by disguise and the innovation and creativity enabled by disguise and virtual production were key to delivering a great project,” says MGX Studios’ Virtual Production Operations Coordinator, Mete Mümtaz.
According to Mümtaz, “the main goal was to achieve perfect reflections and background lighting – basically, that’s why Autonomy decided to shoot the commercial in our studio instead of on a greenscreen stage. It was much easier and quicker to create exactly what they wanted using virtual production. The whole LED setup, consisting of LED side panels, a back wall and ceiling, allowed us to capture immersive reflections with every single shot.”
Mümtaz, Chief Technology Officer Fatih Eke, and everyone at MGX Studios were excited about the project and confident that virtual production was the right solution.
“Since this project was Autonomy’s first virtual production experience, we thoroughly informed them about the technology before production. Instead of shooting a Formula 1 car physically driving on the streets of Istanbul, the comfort and convenience of extended reality (xR) technology provided by MGX Studios would be decisive in the realization of the project,” says Mümtaz.
The commercial marked MGX Studios’ first advertising project with hybrid technologies, including static images, video and Unreal Engine scenes. In order to achieve this, MGX Studios did intensive experimentation in pre-production.
The virtual production shoot was supported by Unilumin Upad III LED walls, three Brompton Tessera SX40 LED processors, a Mo-Sys camera tracking system, Unreal Engine, and three disguise vx 2s and one vx 1.
“While managing the content, the freedom and comfort of using static images, video and RenderStream, if we wished, gave us the confidence to overcome any issues we encountered,” says Mümtaz. “The xR capabilities provided by disguise and the extensive capabilities of our studio allowed us to simultaneously manipulate light, content, reflections and motion. Being able to project the images we wanted onto an F1 car with reflective surfaces in an organic way and being able to drive that F1 car virtually through the magnificent streets of Istanbul was a great experience for us and the client brands.”
Overall, Mümtaz notes, “The creative acumen and great collaboration of the Autonomy and MGX Studios teams made the project look amazing.”
The use of disguise was key in achieving the high production standards in the project. According to Chief Technology Officer Fatih Eke, “our confidence in disguise and our ability to use disguise during production allows us to become more creative with each production.”