Dark Ride


The FWA People's Choice Award for 2010 was a 12 minute interactive film with user recorded vocal interactions and multiple outcomes.

See the project

It's early morning. You're in the Nevada desert. You've just been dropped via helicopter into the passenger seat of a shiny new Lexus, and the driver is barking orders at you. Meet Tony: a hired gun whose been brought in to get the prototype vehicle from Nevada to Los Angeles in one piece. As for you, well you're the navigator, and it's your job to make sure he doesn't do anything stupid.

Dark Ride invites viewers to ride shotgun on a cross-country road trip, playing navigator to Norman Reedus' Tony. En route to delivering Lexus’ new vehicle to LA viewers must make interactive split-second decisions to help Tony outwit a heist attempt orchestrated by a group of hired goons tasked with stealing the one-of-a-kind car.

Matching the advanced technology of Lexus’ vehicle with a range of cutting-edge production tools, we called on the assorted talents of producer Aris McGarry (BMW: The Hire) and Oscar-nominated DoP Claudio Miranda (Benjamin Button, Tron Legacy) to utilize the next generation RED camera and rare 180 degree Nikkor lens to help us realize this challenging brief.

Working around the fact that the CT200h only existed as a prototype at time of shoot, the 100-strong production crew followed up a demanding on-location shoot with a complex green screen setup on a sound stage at Hollywood’s Fox Studios. Having captured upward-facing location footage on Canon 5D cameras mounted on the test car’s wing mirrors, the studio crew used an LED lighting screen positioned overhead to play back the film in-sync with the forward-facing RED footage to create interactive lighting across the body of the mock-up vehicle.

While the VFX team at Speedshape got to work cleaning up the RED footage by applying an algorithm to reduce distortion around the edges of the 180-degree scenes, we set about adding a host of interactive elements to the film to pull viewers into the experience. Before the film begins, users are invited to record lines of dialogue, which are automatically trimmed and inserted at key moments during the film. Webcam facial recognition and Facebook Connect functionalities help insert the user into the story. Together these features allow users to create a shareable, personalized trailer.

Dark Ride also incorporates interactive binaural sound mixed in real-time to allow users to hear directional movement when panning left and right during the film. The sound and score have also been programmed to respond to users decisions, shifting tempo as the user makes their choices.


  • FWA

    Site Of The Day
  • FWA

    Site of the Month
  • FWA

    People's Choice Award


Vitro, New York

  • Agency

James Brown

  • Director


  • VFX


  • Sound

Michael Fakesch

  • Composer