In May 2012, Tribal DDB Sydney approached us to partner with them to create an AR- based experience with a sophisticated animated 3D universe built around McDonald's products.
Tribal DDB designed the complete solution for the TrackMyMacca’s app, which included turning McDonald’s supply chain data into an API, the way the app is split from the API and the user experience. Our role was to design and build the 3D universe and develop the app for iOS devices.
For us, TrackMyMacca’s was a real passion project, Both teams at ACNE and Tribal DDB went above and beyond to make it perfect. When we saw the final 3D world fold out on the table in front of us, we were incredibly pleased. In our eyes, TrackMyMacca’s is the perfect example of how technology can enable great design.
The TrackMyMacca’s app presented a series of challenges as we were not only dealing with 3D animations on a mobile device, but we were also showing these animations augmented onto the real world through the use of Augmented Reality – a technology with a notorious past.
When AR first caught our attention in 2009, everyone wanted to get a piece of the magic future technology that seemingly bridged the gap between the real and digital world.
Fast-forward to three years later, and the world of AR has significantly evolved with mobile technology making huge leaps forward, unleashing the power necessary to not only run the real-time image recognition algorithms but also render complex 3D animations at the same time.
We started building prototypes to explore the different AR libraries available and both parties quickly agreed on using Qualcomm’s Vuforia AR library. As well as having a significantly dedicated online community, Vuforia also complemented our development platform for the project – Unity3D.
Unity was the perfect choice for a project of this scale; it has great IDE, is a very capable and flexible scripting platform, and also has a great online community – much like Vuforia.
When modelling for real-time rendering on a handheld device, we need to be constantly aware of elements that impact performance, such as polygon count, texture size and draw calls. All of which makes this very different from non-real time 3D, where we only need to worry about how many GHz hours to rent at a render farm.
Our 3D artists created the world in close collaboration with our Unity developers and we had to develop many iterations to make sure we stretched the hardware as far as we possibly could without actually breaking it.
Putting It All Together
One of the biggest challenges of this project was the test and development workflow. Vuforia 2.0 was released towards the very end of the project, and one of the big advantages of this version of the SDK, in combination with Unity 4, is that you can use your webcam to test your work during the development process.
Audio integration was also an interesting challenge for this project. While the iPhone is capable of delivering really good sound quality if you connect a pair of decent headphones to it, the reality is that most users will experience the audio through the device’s speaker.
We also encountered challenges regarding shakiness of the scene. AR works well if the 3D scene is approximately the same size as the AR target, but in our case the scene was many times bigger than that. This caused some issues with the stability of the scene.
Working with AR means combining real world objects with 3D, and while the technology has improved tremendously over the previous years, we’re still very much at the mercy of the user.
About the Author
I work as an Interactive Creative Director at ACNE Production in Los Angeles. I specialize interactive direction on experience-based campaigns across multiple digital platforms. I've directed and lead campaigns with such brands as Nike, Coca-Cola, Nokia, GE, McDonald's, Toyota, to name a few.
I graduated from the IT University of Copenhagen in 2005 and started working at Framfab/LBi in Copenhagen shortly after as a developer. I stayed with LBi for five years, eventually making Director of Technology.
In my academic education I've combined a bachelor in arts and aesthetics with a masters degree in information technology. This unusual combination gives me a unique understanding of both the creative, technical and aesthetic aspects of a concept, as well as the tools and knowledge to bring that concept into life.
Agency: Tribal DDB Sydney