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Progress on all levels

To showcase the new Audi RS e-tron GT the carmaker used innovative cinematic techniques to capture the all-electric icon.

06/24/2021 Text: Angus Frazer - Photo: Francis Boyter - Film: Sébastien Grousset Reading Time: 4 min

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

The Audi RS e-tron GT appears on a screen.
Seeing is envisioning: Despite appearances, the new Audi RS e-tron GT commercial was shot in a London studio, not in the desert.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

German model shown. Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

German model shown. Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” These words by the late American poet and author Maya Angelou encapsulate the essence of human progress. And they also speak to us of a restless soul with a deep yearning to improve the world and an absolute refusal to settle for second best.

 

For more than a century now, the people who work at Audi have shared a similar mindset, persistently pushing the envelope ever further. The constant drive to improve has propelled the Four Rings’ designers and engineers repeatedly to victory — from the race circuits of the DTM, through the fire-spitting quattro cars that chewed through snow, ice, gravel and tarmac in the World Rally Championships, to the series of unmatched and uncatchable endurance racers that powered through the long, long nights of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

 

No less committed and intensive Audi pushed and is still pushing the development of its’ production models. Best example: the Audi RS e-tron GT.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

The Audi RS e-tron GT stands in a film studio in front of a green screen.
Studio star: The Audi RS e-tron GT in front of a green screen.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

German model shown. Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

German model shown. Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

Seeing the Audi RS e-tron GT for the first time is not just a visual also a viscerally emotional experience. Small wonder then that the man responsible for its form, Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design, describes the car among other things as “the most beautiful Audi ever.” Clearly, he has poured his heart and soul into the project.

 

So it is only logical that Audi has come up with a very special way to showcase what is arguably the most important car it has ever built. The question was also, "How can we raise the bar even further?"

 

One way it did so was through an avant-garde approach to creating the commercial. Most movie viewers are familiar with green-screen technology, which evolved out of blue-screen technology invented in the 1930s and sees actors performing their roles in front of a screen. This is subsequently replaced with a computer-generated imagery (CGI) background. For all its cleverness, this solution can make it difficult for the director, actors, cinematographer, camera operators and crew to envision the finished film.

 

But that’s not what the crew at the studio where the Audi RS e-tron GT shoot is underway are doing. Instead, by breaking away from the traditional method, they’re achieving something quite magical. On one camera screen, an actor walks across a real layer of sand on the studio floor with a green screen behind him, while on another, he strides across a CGI desert. Most impressively, these two things occur simultaneously, in real time, without the director having to wait weeks for the addition of the virtual world.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

An actor can be seen on two screens — walking through real sand in a studio on one, while apparently strolling through a desert on the other.
Two-screen monte: Here, an actor walks through real sand in a studio; there, he strides across a CGI desert.

A massive number of people and companies have come together to pull off this feat. They include the film’s director Sébastien Grousset and special effects supervisor Coke Ferreiro, who are co-founders of Outland, a start-up dedicated to blending the virtual and physical worlds together in real time. “We are using the world’s most advanced real-time 3D creation tool,” explains Grousset. “It really is a game changer. As a director, I can get a grip on the CGI world and preview the film in a very organic way. There is no waiting for the additional images to be rendered—feedback is instant.”

 

It goes without saying that the crew doesn’t create the finished commercial on set and post-production work is still required to achieve the final result. What the technology does is produce a piece of work, complete with low-res CGI backgrounds. With those backgrounds already in place, the post-production team can visualise what is needed better than when simply supplied with green-screen footage. “As a director, you are free to pursue your vision and create the film you want up front, directing as if you were on location. The only difference is that you are in a studio in your pajamas, not wrapped up in a big jacket in the desert at six in the morning,” laughs Grousset.

 

Komplett fertigstellen kann die Crew den Film am Set natürlich trotzdem nicht. Bis das Endergebnis steht, bedarf es nach wie vor einer Nachbearbeitung. Die CGI-Hintergründe sind in niedriger Auflösung jedoch schon vorhanden. Und mithilfe dieser Hintergründe kann das Post-Production-Team viel besser visualisieren, was noch zu machen ist, als das mit einfachem Greenscreen-Filmmaterial möglich wäre. „Als Regisseur kann man damit den Film von vornherein nach seinen Vorstellungen drehen. Man führt so Regie, als wäre man in der echten Welt. Der einzige Unterschied ist, dass man dabei um sechs Uhr früh im Schlafanzug im Studio steht und nicht in der Wüste“, lacht Grousset.

We believe our approach matches the Audi vision for a more sustainable future.”

Coke Ferreiro

The Audi e-tron GT and an actor appear on a screen in front of a low-res CGI background.
No more shooting from the hip: During filming, the director sees the car against a low-res CGI background.

German model shown.

German model shown.

“Working with a superbrand like Audi and a supercar like the new e-tron GT is an incredible experience,” says Ferreiro. “We believe our approach matches the Audi vision for a more sustainable future, as we don’t have the logistical challenges of moving a crew to different locations around the world. This is a much more agile and efficient way of working. We’re convinced that, in line with the Four Rings’ pioneering ethos, we are creating something that will transform the way commercials are made.”

 

What’s more, the technology is not just designed to transform high-end production processes. Ferreiro and Grousset have far greater aspirations than that: “Our dream is to democratize filmmaking, putting the power to be creative into the public’s hands. By developing a smartphone app, anyone will be able to create their own incredible content with the most amazing backgrounds,” enthuses Ferreiro. For all the cutting-edge technology involved, this new way of making films still requires human vision, creativity and commitment.

 

Whatever you do in life, whether it’s developing a new electric car to change the automotive industry or making a movie on your smartphone for fun to share with friends, you can always raise the bar just a little higher. And although it may be tiring at times to go that extra mile, the more you pour your heart and soul into a project, the better you will become. For, as Maya Angelou observed, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

Experience how a vision was brought to life, watch the finished commercial here:

Audi RS e-tron GT

All-electric icon

Experience how the Audi RS e-tron GT combines beauty with performance.

Discover more

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

German model shown. Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

Audi RS e-tron GT: Power consumption, combined*: 20.2–19.3 kWh/100km (NEDC); 22.5–20.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

German model shown. Stated specifications apply only in Germany and are not applicable in other regions.

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