For 2020, Throttle House were looking for a new intro bumper to complement their classic logo branding in anticipation for this year’s Track Series. The series, taking place each summer, pits cars head-to-head on drag strips and the Throttle House track, pushing them to the limit to find the best track cars on the market.
Our criteria was: speed. To differentiate between the standard intro bumper, we wanted to add the energy and intensity of the track. To start, we knew our endframe would be the Throttle House logo, front and center. We had around four seconds to fill to total ten seconds of bumper time (the last six seconds is the classic endcap) to take the camera on a journey from the car interior to the brand logo.
Modelling & Texturing
For this feature, we used Blender, an open source 3D modelling, shading and animating tool. Despite the breadth of tools, we didn’t want to give our CPUs too much to do, so instead of modelling the entire car interior, we only needed to model a dashboard – or, even easier, find one ready to use. Blendswap is a great resource for finding and sharing Blender models and we found this excellent model ready to go.
Our initial decisions here were based on the aesthetics. We remodeled parts of the dashboard to get our composition correct and added the Throttle House logo to the rev meter. There were plenty other details that didn’t make the final shot – such as the arrangement and colors of our dashlights, and the intricate leather stitching on the dashboard.
As a side note about the rev meter, it’s not the only one: the focus point of the shot was initially the speedometer but after early animation tests we discovered that the camera should move in from the passenger side. Having the camera pass over the speedometer as well as the rev gauge made the animation feel too busy and settling on a speed was one task too far; the final decision was to simply move the rev gauge to the right-hand-side where the speedometer was. As the camera never has a full view of the ‘other’ rev meter, no changes were needed on that side, and the final animation was cleaner as a result.
Animation & Cinematography
The first and last shots are the most important, so keyframing our initial and final compositions were key. Once we had our final frame (which was essentially the Throttle House logo front and center), we moved the camera further out and below to the passenger seat and added a dolly forward, slightly rotating the frame to keep the dial roughly in the center of the viewport.
With bezier curves we slowed the zoom toward the end, and to add more intensity we overlaid a noise modifier onto the z-axis position of the camera for some vertical shake, also keyframing out the intensity toward the end of the shot.
The camera settings we used were a 90mm focal length, 35mm sensor with a 2.8 f-stop. As we were going to use some glare in the final composite we turned off settings that simulate distortion from anamorphic lens bokeh, especially with how much blur there was going to be in the final render.
To simulate outside movement without having any visual such as an open window or windscreen, we created an array of orange and white studio lights above, below, right and left of the dashboard, spaced out as if they were lights in a long underground tunnel. With array modifiers we extended this and animated the position. The speed of the animation was vital to give a credible sense of speed and initial tests were often too fast just judging it by eye from an outside perspective; the lights are actually moving much slower than the final render shows. This is also in part thanks to the reflection on the glass of the dashboard.
Animating the rev counter to the final sound effects of a Lamborghini Huracán EVO from which Throttle House had captured live audio was a fun task, and giving it the right movement linked to the sound of the engine turned out to be a surprisingly fiddly task. Adding a glare to the lights, visual camera distortion, final color grading and noise were the last elements added to this challenging and fun shot, and we are really happy with the results.