Shifting a cobrand to overdrive
We borrowed Mercedes-Benz’s very own slogan as our inspiration. It had to be the BEST or NOT AT ALL. This piece needed to represent the number one non-fiction global brand, Discovery, and the inventor of the automobile, Mercedes-Benz, in perfect fusion.
For the third year in a row, Mercedes-Benz and Discovery partnered with IFDC to promote a vehicle release. While we were provided a creative brief and a short reel of driving footage, we wanted to exclusively pitch concepts that allowed our designers to have a little bit of fun while syncing up with the overall Mercedes-Benz branding.
So it was off to the races as our amazing in house crew of writers, creative directors, designers/animators and editors brainstormed three very different, yet innovative ways to sell specific technological features of the 2018 E-Class Coupe. Passionate about always pushing, this project gave us the additional challenge to compete with ourselves and one-up our previous creative. Using client assets as our jumping off point, we expanded our thinking beyond the driving footage, pitching a 3D concept that provided a graphic solution to yield an elevated final product that is complementary to the current Mercedes-Benz marketing.
We know that the E-Class Coupe is simultaneously aggressive and cutting edge, yet clean and sophisticated. In turn, we wanted the viewer to feel a coalescence of elegance, confidence, mystery and drama. As with any luxury brand, perfection is the result of meticulous attention to detail. From headlight to taillight, our study of the 2018 E-Class Coupe focused on enhancing the striking curves and character lines of the vehicle. Lighting elements were used to reflect and draw out these lines, providing an eye-catching yet creative twist, on one of the final phases in automotive assembly lines.
We chose to visually mirror the vehicle’s traits in a dark environment, defined through silhouette, as the absence of color further accentuated the body and shape of the car. This environment inverts the color palette of the source footage, which showcases a white vehicle during daylight, creating greater contrast between the 3D scenes and maintaining an air of mystery. A fast paced edit and bold music track amplifies the anticipation as we cut between multiple angles of the vehicle, building to a full reveal.
Driving footage was treated with a custom UI to both highlight and illustrate important vehicle technology talking points and integrate this material with the 3D model graphics. We sought to build both depth in the animation and intention in the movement so all UI graphic elements felt purposeful.
One of the biggest hurdles to a project such as this can be logistical. Being several layers removed from the ultimate decision makers made for lots of steps to navigate, which could have resulted in rounds and rounds of time consuming re-renders and expensive revisions. Luckily for all involved, the designs were very well received, our clients were receptive to and trusted our creative instincts, and the feedback was minimal, making crossing the finish line all the sweeter!
After studying the vehicle’s shape inside and out, we jumped into Cinema 4D with the 3D model Mercedes-Benz approved. It soon became clear to us that optimization of the 3D file was vital to an on-time delivery. We spent precious time optimizing the 3D model and conducted a few rendering tests, achieving a fine balance between a quality render and overall render time.
From there, we found notable surfaces and styling features of the vehicle and focused on extracting interesting shots. We added textures and shaders, then rendered beauty, specular, and reflection passes to bring in for compositing. During this stage, we applied a base color grade to the image, incorporated some background atmospheric elements, and finally adding additional lighting elements and a finessed overall grade.