Fans of car brand Lexus direct Formula 1 driver Jarno Trulli around improvised race tracks of their own making in the striking real-time, real-world video game that's at the heart of a recent campaign for the Lexus IS Hybrid.
The campaign, "Trace Your Road," shot using multiple cameras and real-time projectors, shows highlights of a live event which took place in an aircraft hangar outside Rome in July when 10 Lexus fans, selected via a Facebook competition, sat in the passenger seat of a Lexus IS Hybrid with Trulli at the wheel.
Each contestant created their own course live by tracing its outline on a touch tablet while seated in the car. The blueprint was then sent via special software to a dozen 20K and 22K projectors which were used to project the designs onto the hangar's floor for Trulli to follow.
Each attempt to follow the spontaneous, real-time paths was then filmed with a custom high-res infrared camera system used to track the car. With the aim of the game to reach seven randomly placed check points on the hangar floor in as little time as possible, penalties were incurred whenever the car left its projected route or if the co-pilot while drawing "hit" the hangar wall.
The idea arose through a collaboration between Saatchi & Saatchi Italy, New York / Los Angeles-based creative studio Logan and New York-based creative boutique Fake Love which developed visuals, projections, and interactivity for the life-sized video game. Also involved was Italian production outfit Movie Magic.
"The initial concept was about tracing your own path and following your own route. The challenge was how to express this visually," Logan creative director Alan Bibby, live action director on the project, explains.
"The creatives wanted to do something that hadn't been seen before. The idea evolved to create a live experience that would also be the focus of a TV campaign. As what we were creating was part live experience part ad, this had to work and function live for all involved in real time."
Having tested the concept on computer, a mocked-up version of the interactive experience was tested in a Brooklyn warehouse using a single projector and a scale model car before the team de-camped to Italy.
It then took almost six days to prepare the hangar, three days of which were spent blacking out any source of light. The biggest challenge on the day, however, was ensuring it was a great experience for participants while guaranteeing the shots that would also make it a stand-out TV campaign.
"Usually you do one or you do the other, not both," says Layne Braunstein, Fake Love's co-founder. "But we were working with real people so wanted to make sure we captured reactions to what happened on the day that were real and honest. That's why pretty much everything was shot in situ on the day rather than added in post."
To date the campaign, now showing on TV, has generated 100,000 You Tubes hits a day since the work launched online a few weeks back.
See a behind the scenes video below.