King of the road

"Audi - The Comeback"

A dinosaur experiences the ups and downs of life in the fast lane: Audi piloted driving brings joy to a Tyrannosaurus rex. A peek behind the scenes of the video shoot.

Birte Mußmann (copy), Audi (photos) & Stephan Wever, Stink Berlin, Sehsucht (video).

Permissions to portions of this video provided by Hugh Murphy.

Piloted driving: Audi has been pursuing this field of research for quite some time. Though handled with a hint of humor in the video, this technology is set to revolutionize our mobility in the future.
Our morning commute doesn’t usually afford the sight of a Tyrannosaurus rex cruising along the highway in an Audi RS 7 concept. 

But when you watch the video, it soon becomes obvious that the protagonist cast in this role isn’t meant to be taken completely seriously. The ferocious T. rex that unleashed mayhem and terror among its contemporaries is now, in the digital age, experiencing devastation itself as the subject of social media mockery by humans. Tyrannosaurus vs. the Twittersphere — even this fierce predator’s skin proved too thin to withstand nonchalant cyberbullying. In the video, the reptile shows that his tough exterior conceals a sensitive side. But the anxieties and crises he experiences are averted — thanks to Audi piloted driving.

Reproducing the T. rex’s emotional rollercoaster ride in moving images that felt real called not only for the technology to enable highly automated driving but also a broad spectrum of special effects during production. A tall order, which the Razorfish agency collaborated with Audi to fill, bringing director Stephan Wever, Stink Berlin (production) and Sehsucht (CGI animation) on board. Getting the T. rex in the driver’s seat took elaborate CGI animation. To achieve the right movements and get the 3D dinosaur in the right place, a human protagonist first had to play the role. Then followed the painstaking computer work of replacing the actor with the dinosaur. A time-consuming endeavor — it took several weeks to digitally bring the extinct star to life.

A touch of Jurassic Park: The Tyrannosaurus was brought to life on the computer.

Florian Zachau, head of VFX at Sehsucht, describes what must have been the biggest challenge in terms of animation: „The biggest challenge was to make the dinosaur look depressed. A T-Rex is a rather stiff character and there is not a lot of variety on mimics and gestures the animators can use in order to bring out that sadness. The interview-scene in particular wasn’t easy. Even though no one actually knows what a talking dinosaur looks like, it is something we do not rate as a natural behaviour. It’s a very thin line between making it look natural and not awkward.“

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