Castrol's VR Campaign Blurs the Lines Between Virtual and Reality

Whether your business is in photography, videography, or the evolving field virtual reality (VR), your job is to create a visual experience for your clients. As VR grows in popularity and in quality, its potential to create more immersive experiences in relation to more traditional media types increases immensely. The effect that systems like Oculus Rift can have ultimately depend, however, on how realistic one can make not only the imagery, but also the user feedback. Castrol EDGE's custom VR solution pushes the limit between what you can expect from a VR setup as it pits two race car drivers on different real-world tracks against each other in the same virtual world.

By copying the track layout in real life, drivers were spared the dangers of running into each other. Meanwhile, with their cars and tracks hooked up to dozens of physical, optical, and laser sensors, each driver actually drove his car with all the real-world physics of doing so feeding back to their bodies - minus the small detail of eyesight, which was overtaken by the Oculus-integrated helmets they wore while driving. Even virtual-reality boulders had real-world "flag" counterparts that the cars could run over, but that would feed a small collision "tick" back to the driver similar to running over a flexible cone.

Nothing about this setup was ordinary. Almost everything was part of an incredibly customized system. But it's nevertheless an interesting look into the ever-realistic world of virtual reality. While the game-like world might not be the most realistic, it could easily be argued that the real-world feedback to the user is more important to a realistic experience, since our minds can suspend disbelief more easily with visual information than with physical input. In this case, each driver had the real-world feedback of the car's roaring engine, the screeching tires, and the lateral g-forces of cornering around each turn to make their experience incredibly realistic.

In addition to the race video above, check out the behind-the-scenes video below with information about the setup.

Adam Ottke's picture

Adam works mostly across California on all things photography and art. He can be found at the best local coffee shops, at home scanning film in for hours, or out and about shooting his next assignment. Want to talk about gear? Want to work on a project together? Have an idea for Fstoppers? Get in touch! And, check out film rentals!

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I don't care much for VR, but that was pretty cool.

I think it's just fake. Well planed advert.

Haha. It's 100% real. Completely. I know the developers. Really brilliant guys. They really created that virtual arena

In this case thumbs up. :)

The car movements in the VR didn't seem to be following the car movements. Don't you think they spiced it up in editing to make it appear more realistic than the VR actually was?

I thought about this in a few cases, too. But it could have been from some imperfect editing for the BTS, maybe. I guess I give a lot of benefit of doubt. That, and Douglas said it was legit, so, you know... ;-)

This is the coolest thing I've seen in a while!!!! I LOVE TECHNOLOGY!!!