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Vrooming ahead

Augmented virtual reality adds zing to Ferrari Ki Sawaari promotions.

Written by Priyanko Sarkar | Published: June 15, 2012 7:39:06 pm

Vidhu Vinod Chopra Productions upcoming film Ferrari Ki Sawaari has hit the road to promote the film before its scheduled release later this month. And while mall appearances and audio CD signings are now considered de riguer,the film’s crew decided to go the extra mile to publicise itself. The makers roped in Hungama Digital to create a virtually designed car that resembles a Ferrari and also gives the user an experience of driving one of the most iconic car brands of all time.

Carlton D’Souza,CCO,Hungama Digital said,“We created an augmented reality version of the Ferrari. We first executed the activity at a mall in Mumbai,wherein consumers got a chance to experience the technology first hand after being seated in a virtual red sports car. A big screen over the car seats showed the consumer cruising around in the iconic car.” According to him,the brief from VVC Productions was to create a clutter-breaking marketing exercise. “The movie does not have any Khan on whose shoulder it can ride. Most of them are fairly non-commercial so the idea was to bring in some excitement around the film. We took the augmented reality concept to VVC and Vidhu Vinod Chopra was reluctant initially because he’s quite a stickler for perfection. But when we explained how the need of the hour was to come up with something disruptive and get the message of the film across through this concept,he came on board immediately,” D’Souza revealed.

The augmented reality takes a fair amount of work before it is opened for audiences’ pleasure. The most critical aspect is calibrating the 3D and camera movement required. Because there are no rights from the original car company,the audience is made to sit over an engine that simulates the action of a Ferrari. As soon as a person sits over the engine,the camera tracks his position and the 3D begins calibrating the experience of driving a Ferrari on an open road. This entire action is then simulated in a video that captures the person’s movements and fuses it with animation of the open road.

“We executed the first campaign at a suburban mall in Mumbai and it went off well. What works for us is that augmented reality is a novel concept so even sceptical audiences are willing to give it a try. Boman Irani and Sharman Joshi,who are part of the film,participated in it as well,” D’Souza said.

Considering that the technology is new to the country,D’Souza said that it is important that audiences enjoy the concept rather than write it off as a gimmick. The only way of doing that is to ensure that quality checks are applied at all levels. “Before creating this concept,we looked at similar models in other countries. It took us a month to figure out how we’ll make the concept work. Unless you have time and freedom to create your product the way you want,the end product will look tacky. That is quite a put-off for the audience,” D’Souza said.

While not as cheap as other promotional activities,D’Souza said that augmented reality was a great way of engaging audiences across the country. Currently,60 to 70 per cent of the cost goes towards animating the experience,20 per cent is used by the augmented reality application and the rest of the money is spent on calibrations.

Another very important factor is to hold such activities in a space where the environment is controlled,especially elements like light and crowd. Since the technical aspects of the camera and 3D equipment are calibrated with respect to a particular amount of light,holding such an event in the outdoors where the sun’s light changes frequently can play havoc with the simulation. The augmented reality is also designed in a way that a person who wants to experience the ride on a Ferrari will have a completely new experience in the second round,since the environment in the animation will change accordingly. “For example,if its a night drive the second time around,the car will have its headlights switched on instead of driving along on a sunny day in his first attempt,” D’Souza said.

The audience gets a minute to sit in the modified engine and a video of the simulation is given to him after the round is complete.

D’Souza said that this is the most important aspect of the entire campaign. “We empower people who have driven our augmented reality car with a video showing their experiences that they can share with their friends and family on social networking sites. This serves the triple purpose of allowing the user to document their experience,create social media chatter as well as spread the message about the movie,” he concluded.

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