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/ 04.07.2019

Buckle Up: REWIND Creates 360° Films For Top Gear That Put You In The Driving Seat

Working with the BBC and Top Gear, REWIND has created three original 360° films that allow anyone with a smartphone or tablet to experience the thrill of taking three petrol-fuelled vehicles airborne over a music festival, a petrol filling station, and a supermarket car park!

Exclusively available to watch on the Top Gear YouTube channel and best experienced with headphones, the 360° films immerse the viewer into the world of a stunt driver – experiencing everything that goes with it, from massive explosions to vertigo-inducing ramps, big crashes, and ultimately some brilliantly spectacular failures… all in true Top Gear style.

Filmed in the first-person, a member of the Top Gear production team welcomes fans from the comfort of their own motorhome to take them around the film set as the stunt driver for the day, showing them what they’re about to jump over. After checking out the jump ramp, it’s time to strap into the driver’s seat and hit the road. 

The project was a dream come true for the Top Gear fans in the REWIND office, but it also presented some unique challenges – like how to build a custom 360° camera solution that could survive the epic crashes, while also delivering high enough resolution footage for a prime time show like Top Gear. 

The answer was a fusion of the latest technology in virtual production, plus a rock-solid rigging solution created with the help of the Top Gear production team and the engineering brains behind many a Top Gear stunt. We prototyped the whole shoot in real-time game engine Unreal Engine 4. This allowed the director to test out camera positions, edits, camera changeovers, etc.

To cover all the angles, we used a mixture of cameras to play to their strengths – literally! Many had to be treated as “disposable” as the cameras had to go through an 80mph+ crash plus jumping off a 7-metre high ramp! Our kit included: six Yi Halos, ten GoPro Fusions, a Phantom Z, Insta 360 Pro 2s, a KanDao, and three brand new Z-Cams with amazing bespoke fisheye lenses. This combination gave us over 130 SD cards to wrangle and 10TB of data.

In the first 360° film, the viewer jumps a petrol tanker over a petrol station and encounters The Stig. Film two involves jumping over a mini-music festival in an old, underpowered campervan – less horse-power, more flower-power. And finally, for the third film, the Kia Ceed takes on a jump over a supermarket carpark into the last parking space.

Duncan Gray, Commercial Director, Top Gear said: “We wanted to create entertaining content for our YouTube channel that took fans behind the scenes of a Top Gear stunt.  And by producing this content in 360 we were able to ‘virtually’ put viewers right there in the driving seat of three enormously inappropriate stunt vehicles, something we’ve never done before. The results, as you will see, are smashing!”

Watch the first video here and below (best experienced with headphones).

At the end of the series, a short behind-the-scenes video will also show how the films were made, with Director and crew revealing what it took to make it all happen.

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