The F-series Campaign
For the past 3 years, we’ve been working with Ford and GTB to create interactive experiences that showcase what their F-150 and Super Duty trucks are capable of. The Innovations 360 campaign is a unique approach to a typical 360 spinner where we can show off every side of the truck with a bit more context and polish. In both cases, we created a CG flythrough video that highlighted each side of the truck with features to call out. Tailgate, lights, fully-boxed-frame, you name it.
To really highlight not only the physical build of the truck but it’s features inside and out, we create a cinematic 360 giving the user to explore features at key locations and then fly around the truck as you move from one worksite to the next. In addition to all this, it had to work on tablet and mobile, so developing a system that played into each device was crucial for the whole experience.
Super Duty Innovations
The Ford Super Duty truck is the cornerstone of the working man’s fleet of tools on wheels. Widely regarded as the best utility pickup on the market, the 2017 Super Duty only amped up the game and with it, we developed a whole new product experience from our previous year’s work. We’re not talking about just dropping in new pretty pictures here and there. No, this was a completely new beast.
Two simultaneous CG flythroughs were developed at the same time. One for the Super Duty and the other for the Chassis edition of the Super Duty. You know, the version of the truck you see with a utility section in the back or a flatbed with a Delorean on it. Those things might be able to time travel but we all know they don’t make it past 88mph on wheels alone.
A New Powerhouse
When Ford and GTB approached us for a new experience for the Super Duty based on our previous year’s 360 experience, we took this as an opportunity to expand upon experience and usability. The target market for a Ford Super Duty are professionals looking less for flashy graphics and more for hard facts and figures. They want to see the truck in context and get to the updates put into the new 2017 Super Duty. To do this, we simplified the desktop experience and created a completely new mobile site that simply cut to the chase.
After extensive user testing both from the previous year’s site and on UX testing for the 2017 site, we developed an approachable mobile companion that expressed the same information and design as the desktop site but built it upon the fast and new CSS and canvas framework.
Custom Mobile Experience
Why develop a unique mobile site? What we found with the F-150 experience was, even though we could implement the entirety of the desktop site on the phone, it just wasn’t what people were using it for or ultimately needing. Drilling down to the very specific user base, we found that information gathering was the primary use on mobile devices where only a few clicks were desired before getting at the features of the truck. So, we trimmed it down and created a modular site that still incorporated the visuals but let the content take the wheel. Being flexible enough to react to this user feedback in a timely manner has always been crucial to the Innovations 360 Experience.
The F-150 Experience
Our first dive into the Ford Truck world came with the F-150 Innovations experience. With this truck, we were truly starting at square one, looking to define what a new 360 could be that captured the vehicle in context while still giving that classic “spinner” functionality. Our solution was the cinematic 360 where we could design out the scenes and plan the camera angles to each moment and angle.
Building this tool gave us insight into how users would adapt to a slightly new approach to the 360. We even gave it some tweaks and adjustments as user data came in and revealed even more interesting use-case scenarios. The flexibility of the tool was important because just like those who buy the truck, these users want options.
Information… in Context
Most 360 views have some interactive option these days, beyond just a “spinner” function to enable a full 360 degree view. Some might have color options, some might drill down into some specific features, but generally speaking, pretty thin in terms of information or interactivity.
After looking at a lot of existing experiences, we noticed the other notable absence was context. Ford and F150 really own the idea of the work truck, and as cool as “dynamic hitch assist” may sound, when discussed in the vanilla void of the white stage it loses a good amount of its contextual relevance.
Striking a Balance We knew from the get go that we wanted a beautifully rendered, highly visual experience and that we were going to leverage a good amount of our CG and compositing heritage to do so. The challenge there is that the higher level of control you give the user, the harder it is to maintain a broadcast level visual. So the real challenge was striking a balance between aesthetic and function.
In the end, we built all of the environments and the truck in CG, and rendered out each of the specific camera moves and scenes available in the experience. Utilizing the latest HTML5 techniques that mix pre-rendered and live elements, we were able to create an experience that felt alive and responsive despite using a heavy amount of pre-rendered video as a foundation. In doing so, the interactivity of the experience did not limit our ability to achieve an aesthetic that meets our standards nor that of Ford’s own branding.
Listen, around these parts we like trucks– after a couple shots of tequila, you’ll soon be informed that Jen was raised on a pig farm – so the spirit behind what F150 and GTB wanted to do is something we immediately identified with.
We’ve also made it our mission to continue to push the visual capabilities of interactive experiences, so we loved partnering with this group to continue to challenge ourselves and put a new spin on an old chore.