Image courtesy of Pagani

Digital showrooms enrich Pagani hypercar configuration experiences 

By Stefan Wenz |
November 11, 2020
Purchasing a vehicle from Italian hypercar manufacturer Pagani is a lot like ordering a refined tailor-made suit. It’s a one-to-one experience that requires full understanding of the client’s desires, and revolves around the ability to customize and create something truly unique. 

A very limited number of Paganis are produced each year for a highly exclusive client list, and like individually-crafted artworks, no two Paganis on the road are the same. 

Customizing a hypercar is a unique journey that enables the client to express their own taste down to the smallest detail.
 

That’s where MHP comes in. The consultancy’s best-in-class Unreal Engine-powered dealership configurator enables Pagani’s exclusive client base to play with different options and custom features, including a wide color palette, different finishes, and materials, then visualize their favorite layouts in real time to an unprecedented level of detail. 

The real-time configurator also gives Pagani clients a glimpse of their future hypercar set in diverse environments and situations—like running along a coastal road or on display in a studio or museum—to experience all possible light reflection effects. Each environment can be swapped in the click of a button.

Leveraging NVIDIA RTX on Google Cloud, the digital showroom provides interactive live 3D experiences that can be streamed to mobile and connected devices via Pixel Streaming.

Beyond the showroom, MHP is leveraging Unreal Engine to create bespoke digital content for Pagani’s clients to enjoy and share while they wait for their car to be produced. The same 3D models used in Pagani’s configurator can be repurposed for this content, saving time and money.
Image courtesy of Pagani

A best-in-class real-time configurator 

MHP is a Porsche-owned international management and IT consultancy. It predominantly focuses on the automotive industry, providing strategic and operational support as well as system implementation to automotive companies looking to adopt new technologies and processes. 

One part of this multi-faceted business focuses on customer experience and involves the development of digital showrooms that enable MHP’s clients to offer first-class service and support their dealerships in the sales process.

A top-end brand like Pagani offers a virtually infinite range of bodywork colors and finishes for its exclusive clientbase to choose from, along with a limitless number of custom features. These include stripes, different colored wheels, and premium interior options such as a wide selection of leather and stitching colors to create something truly individual. It’s a complex, bespoke product. 
Pagani’s dealerships can use the configurator developed by MHP to custom design a client’s vehicle with them and visualize it instantly in photorealistic detail. 

The sales collateral produced is more than just static images—they can create a video showing the customized car racing along an airfield or mountain road that the client can take away with them after the session. The customer also receives a personalized digital brochure showcasing their exact vehicle with all the different finishes and options they’ve chosen.

This highly personalized experience is the perfect match for a brand that prides itself on offering one-of-a-kind products. It enables dealers to enrich the traditional configuration experience, augmenting the physical sensation of touching and feeling materials with real-time technology.

Leveraging Blueprint to empower artists

Stephan Baier is head of immersive experience at MHP. He leads visualization-related projects at the practice. When it came to developing the digital showroom for Pagani, user experience was at the forefront of his mind. “A dealership configurator should be as easy to use as your personal Instagram account,” he says.

MHP had previously built configurators using alternative real-time tools. Swapping to Unreal Engine enabled the team to build something far more user-friendly. Baier says the move also came with a change of mindset. “Now, the applications we are building are more like games,” he explains. “The purpose is car sales, but the applications are engaging in the same way that a game is.”

The team created a remote template that enables dealers to configure and display the car in 4K quality. “This is the core benefit of our solution compared to other solutions—it’s really easy to use, even the installation process,” says Baier. “It’s basically the same as if you download a game from the Epic Games launcher.”
Image courtesy of Pagani
The similarity is no coincidence. The team deliberately modelled the configurator installation process to be as simple and straightforward as possible. “It’s one click to download, one click to install, and one click to launch,” says Baier.

Of equal importance to Baier was empowering his whole team to help develop the configurator, whether they were programmers or artists. “Initially, our thoughts concerning Unreal were that it is really technical artist-friendly,” says Baier. “At that time, we didn’t have many developers on our team. Using Blueprints, our technical artists were good to go, and with less effort compared to other solutions.”

The Blueprint visual scripting system enables non-programmers like artists and designers to harness the power of programming without writing a single line of code. Instead, they can construct objects, functions, and events in a visual way by connecting nodes. 

It goes without saying that a high-end dealership configurator lives or dies by its visual fidelity. Clients want to be able to zoom in and see the stitching on the seat covers, get a feel for the texture of the leather, and a sense of how their vehicle will look under different kinds of lighting. 

“Unreal Engine offers best-in-class visual fidelity, and this was one of the reasons we chose it,” explains Baier.
Image courtesy of Pagani
Pagani has been bowled over by the results. Dealers just scan a small QR code on the large screen in the dealership to connect to the digital showroom application. “Pagani offers the best possible experience to clients, whether they’re visiting the factory or just going to the local dealer,” says Baier. “Among their fundamental requirements for the development of the new configurator were smooth installation, a user-friendly interface and system stability—and hyper-realistic visualization.”

The team at MHP put themselves to the test like never before to meet these needs—and the results speak for themselves. “They’ve said everything is so easy now—everything connects seamlessly,” says Baier.

Configurable real-time automotive sales content

Back in 2017, creative content studio The Mill prototyped the world’s first configurable film with The Human Race. Combining a fully adjustable car rig, a virtual production toolkit, and Unreal Engine, the film merges real-time visual effects and live-action storytelling.
Image courtesy of Chevrolet | The Mill | Epic Games
MHP are picking up the baton by creating a configurable automotive film for Pagani. The MHP team are shooting the film at the Imola race track, and will integrate live footage of the real environment with a digital Pagani sports car. 

The project is funded by an Epic MegaGrant, and Pagani will use the film for the launch of a new project from its atelier. To push the visuals as far as they can go, the rendering will accurately reproduce the real lighting from the filmed environment using real-time ray tracing. The Imola race track environment and Pagani hypercar assets used on the project will be made available to download from the Unreal Marketplace upon the project’s completion.

At a glance, the film might look like a regular TV ad, but there is one big difference. Like MHP’s photorealistic configurator, the cars in the film are instantly customizable. You can swap the model or color in and out as you watch. “It’s completely personalizable,” explains Baier. “You can show each car as the film runs. This is not possible with a conventional TV ad or conventional CGI production, because you’d have to invest a lot of effort in creating tens of thousands of different variations of the car on the racetrack.”

MHP believes that soon, this is the way all marketing content will be created. “We don’t see product-related content being pre-produced anymore,” says Baier. “We believe that in the future, all product-related content will be generated on demand in a personalized way.”

It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to buy into this vision. The cost-savings of not having to pre-produce content alone would be enough to prick the ears of brands. What’s more, adverts like these inherently provide a more targeted experience—one tailored by the viewer according to their own taste. “This is only possible with real-time technology like Unreal Engine,” says Baier.
Image courtesy of Pagani

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