Meet the Omnivore: Director of Photography Revs Up NVIDIA Omniverse to Create Sleek Car Demo

UK-based Brett Danton makes ‘impossible camera moves’ possible for an automotive commercial using Autodesk Maya, Epic Games Unreal Engine and Omniverse Create.
by Angie Lee

Editor’s note: This post is a part of our Meet the Omnivore series, which features individual creators and developers who use NVIDIA Omniverse to accelerate their 3D workflows and create virtual worlds.

Brett Danton

A camera begins in the sky, flies through some trees and smoothly exits the forest, all while precisely tracking a car driving down a dirt path. This would be all but impossible in the real world, according to film and photography director Brett Danton.

But Danton made what he calls this “impossible camera move” possible for an automotive commercial — at home, with cinematic quality and physical accuracy.

He pulled off the feat using NVIDIA Omniverse, a 3D design collaboration and world simulation platform that enhanced his typical creative workflow and connected various apps he uses, including Autodesk Maya, Epic Games Unreal Engine and Omniverse Create.

With 30+ years of experience in the digital imagery industry, U.K.-based Danton creates advertisements for international clients, showcasing products ranging from cosmetics to cars.

His latest projects, like the above using a Volvo car, demonstrate how a physical location can be recreated for a virtual shoot, delivering photorealistic rendered sequences that match cinematic real-world footage.

“This breaks from traditional imagery and shifts the gears of what’s possible in the digital arts, allowing multiple deliverables inside the one asset,” Danton said.

The physically accurate simulation capabilities of Omniverse took Danton’s project the extra mile, animating a photorealistic car that reacts to the dirt road’s uneven surface as it would in real life.

And by working with Universal Scene Description (USD)-based assets from connected digital content creation tools like Autodesk Maya and Unreal Engine in Omniverse, Danton collaborated with other art departments from his home, just outside of London.

“Omniverse gives me an entire studio on my desktop,” Danton said. “It’s impossible to tell the difference between the real location and what’s been created in Omniverse, and I know that because I went and stood in the real location to create the virtual set.”

Real-Time Collaboration for Multi-App Workflows

To create the forest featured in the car commercial, Danton collaborated with award-winning design studio Ars Thanea. The team shot countless 100-megapixel images to use as references, resulting in a point cloud — or set of data points representing 3D shapes in space — that totaled 250 gigabytes.

The team then used Omniverse as the central hub for all of the data exchange, accelerated by NVIDIA RTX GPUs. Autodesk Maya served as the entry point for camera animation and initial lighting before the project’s data was brought into Omniverse with an Omniverse Connector.

And with the Omniverse Create app, the artists placed trees by hand, created tree patches and tweaked them to fit the forest floor. Omniverse-based real-time collaboration was key for enabling high-profile visual effects artists to work together remotely and on site, Danton said.

Omniverse Create uses Pixar’s USD format to accelerate advanced scene composition and assemble, light, simulate and render 3D scenes in real time.

Photorealistic Lighting With Path Tracing

When directing projects in physical production sites and studios, Danton said he was limited in what he could achieve with lighting — depending on resources, time of day and many other factors. Omniverse removes such creative limitations.

“I can now pre-visualize any of the shots I want to take, and on top of that, I can light them in Omniverse in a photorealistic way,” Danton said.

When he moves a light in Omniverse, the scene reacts exactly the way it would in the real world.

This ability, enabled by Omniverse’s RTX-powered real-time ray tracing and path tracing, is Danton’s favorite aspect of the platform. It lets him create photorealistic, cinematic sequences with “true feel of light,” which wasn’t possible before, he said.

In the Volvo car clip above, for example, the Omniverse lighting reacts on the car as it would in the forest, with physically accurate reflections and light bouncing off the windows.

“I’ve tried other software before, and Omniverse is far superior to anything else I have seen because of its real-time rendering and collaborative workflow capabilities,” Danton said.

Join In on the Creation

Creators across the world can experience NVIDIA Omniverse for free, and enterprise teams can use the platform for their projects.

Plus, join the #MadeInMachinima contest, running through June 27, for a chance to win the latest NVIDIA Studio laptop.

Learn more about Omniverse by watching GTC sessions on demand — featuring visionaries from the Omniverse team, Adobe, Autodesk, Epic Games, Pixar, Unity and Walt Disney Studios.

Follow Omniverse on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Medium for additional resources and inspiration. Check out the Omniverse forums and join our Discord Server to chat with the community.