July 1, 2009
The Skinny The brief seemed simple: create an interactive sales tool featuring live action, CGI environments and flash. Oh, and could we please have a complex level of AI (artificial intelligence) in the backend in order to allow users to interact freely with the environments instead of following a pre-defined path? OK…not so simple after all. The project, for Hong Kong-based Schneider Electric, was a collaborative effort between XM Malaysia and Intense-Animation Studio in Singapore. The purpose was to demonstrate Schneider Electric’s home automation product – Wiser Home Control – to prospective end users and property developers. The challenge was to emulate the product’s real-world functionality – it does everything from switching on the lights and air-conditioning, operating the DVD and streaming Internet Radio – in the context of an interactive CD. Stuart Godwin, creative director at XM Malaysia, said: “We were looking for a partner who was more than merely a supplier. Intense proved invaluable, providing creative input at every phase, and ultimately realising a product that exceeded our expectations.” The Production Intense commenced the project by modelling the interior 3D environments and creating pre-visualisation camera animation based on a guide voice over. The premise of the project was to demonstrate the functionality of the Schneider Wiser Home system and that meant the CGI camera would be zooming to all areas of the different environments. So the creative direction for the live action shoot was to keep moving the camera at all times and make the imagery as dynamic as possible. The pre-visualisation was then delivered to Axis Films in Malaysia who matched the CGI camera movements with the live action camera on set. The entire shoot was filmed in high definition on blue screen and dialogue was recorded on location. Malaysian film star, Deana Yousoff, was cast as the project’s host primarily as the intro’s to each environment required up to a minute of unedited dialogue before the interactive section was enabled. The Post Tony Sealy of Intense Animation Studio said, “This was a very cool project. The concept of animated CGI interiors is fairly common in architectural and engineering animation. But making the CG environments photo-realistic, integrating them with a live action host and then having to control complex functionality within those environments using a floating flash GUI was very challenging.” Intense delivered a series house and apartment interiors, complete with a matrix of functional home devices, such as projector screens, blinds, air-con units, TV screens, sound systems, water features, and even an outdoor spa pool all created in CGI. These were all programmed to react according to users’ requests, across multiple locations, via an on-screen GUI that accurately reflects Wiser’s actual software interface. “We were exceptionally pleased with the result. Integrating CGI with live action imagery is hard enough, but then adding the depth of interactivity as we have done here makes this a unique product” added Godwin of XM Malaysia.