When car companies launch new vehicles, they often face the challenge of introducing a product that doesn’t yet exist. To make Kia’s new Sportage concept car real for dealers, we created a large-scale digital marketing hologram of the vehicle. Taking advantage of emerging GhostMesh material, innovative real-time rendering techniques, and intelligently-designed LED and projection animations, the Kia Sportage Hologram used creative technology to give dealers the next best thing to the car itself.
For their 2019 National Dealer Conference, Kia launched their new Sportage concept to its 300 Australian dealers. However, with access to the car still restricted, they needed a way to demonstrate the vehicle and its features without the physical product itself. Our creative technology solution was to develop a 1:1 scale revolving hologram of the new vehicle to be unveiled as a digital marketing tool on stage during the conference.
While holograms have been around for over 100 years, they’ve surged in popularity recently due to innovations that have made the technology more accessible and scalable. In our previous work with the Air Force, we designed and built custom holographic projectors. However, for this project, we decided on a larger-scale solution relying on fabric-based projections.
To do so, we partnered with TDC to use their nanotechnology GhostMesh. With this translucent projection fabric we were able to create a 6 x 3.5 metre digital marketing hologram displaying a 1:1 scale projection of the Kia Sportage. Although more accessible than its predecessors, like all holograms pulling off this illusion required a level of technical stagecraft to align content with technique.
The GhostMesh fabric we used was designed to capture light from a projector while using translucency to keep unlit areas of the fabric hidden from view. In order to achieve this, an additional background projection – or in our case an LED wall – is required. This virtual backdrop gave the creative technology activation and illusion of depth and physicality.
During testing, we discovered that we would need to carefully balance the illumination between the projections and the LED walls. We also found that placing the GhostMesh directly in front to the LED display created a Moiré effect like the noise on a TV screen. Both issues were solved through content design, with a dim particle background that negated visual noise.
The vehicle at the core of the Kia Sportage Hologram was visualised in Unreal Engine. Using a real-time system gave us the ability to iterate rapidly and generate high-quality visuals within the project’s short timeline. We also knew, having rendered cars in Unreal for a number of other projects, that the game engine’s high precision normals would be perfect for the high density meshes of the car models and paint reflections.
The car paint material made use of Unreal’s Clear Coat shading model, which helped us create the effect of a clear lacquer coat on top of the car’s base colour. We then used a panning cell noise to vertically transition between the eight available colours of the Kia Sportage throughout the event. This choice gave the creative technology render a highly digital, stylised quality which ended up adding to the ‘holographic’ feel of the digital marketing visualisation.
The Kia Sportage Hologram was deployed at the brand’s 2019 National Dealer Conference in Sydney. The GhostMesh was lowered from the ceiling during the keynote presentation, with the car constructing itself seemingly from thin air on stage before the audience. Perpetually rotating and in 1:1 scale with an actual car, the digital marketing hologram deftly used creative technology to highlight the features and paint colours of the car, giving audiences an insight into the vehicle even before it became widely available.