createch CASE: THE Human Race


The Human Race is a short film pushing the boundaries of interactive visuals, created to launch the Chevrolet ZL1 Camaro and premiered at the world’s largest professional game industry event, the GDC in San Francisco, in 2017.

A co-production between car manufacturers Chevrolet, London-based VFX and creative content studio The Mill and the UK’s Epic Games, it is blurring the lines between the worlds of gaming and advertising.

Utilising three unique innovations - Unreal Engine, a game engine developed by Epic Games, a revolutionary virtual production toolkit devised by The Mill called Cyclops and the Blackbird, The Mill’s adjustable car rig that captures environment and motion data – the film features a race between the Chevy Camaro ZL1 and the Chevrolet FNR self-driving concept car. Essentially pitting man against machine as a human driver races an AI-controlled car, the film was part of a multi-platform campaign to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Camaro.



It came about as a response to a basic problem faced by the automotive industry for years – the lack of availability of cars to shoot for advertising campaigns, due to cost constraints or the need to keep the car under wraps before launch.

The Mill created a software package called Cyclops and used Unreal Engine’s real-time rendering capabilities to build an augmented reality process that allowed film-makers to instantly visualise a CG car model in live action shots. On a shoot, Cyclops stitches 360° camera footage and transmits it to Unreal engine, producing an AR image of the virtual car, tracked and composited seamlessly into the scene. This means the director can frame and sync a virtual car on location, reacting live to lighting and environment changes.

The Human Race was the first ever interactive short film to blend live action film-making with real-time game engine processing. All of the cars and visual effects in the film are generated live every 42 miliseconds using the Unreal Engine. Using a configurator app, the team personalised the film as it played live on the screen. Then they took it once step further, giving the launch audience a full control of the configurator to create their own film.

Since launch, The Human Race has picked up several prestigious awards, including Best Real-Time Graphics & Interactivity Award at SIGGRAPH 2017, two LIA awards and received eight nominations at Detroit’s D Show. It quickly gained 2 million online views and created the longest average viewing duration of any Chevy online advertising. 

This is an abridged version of a case study originally published by Immerse UK. Read the full version here.