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Cameras and Computers

Tuesday October 26th, 2010

Computer-generated imagery is a major player in advertising, and the technology has some photographers worried. So this is a good time to look at the real photographic work and ingenuity that goes on behind the computer. We recently covered local photographer Roman Torres and his architectural mind, but here we’ll take a look at the process behind the images of two of our other photographers—New Zealand’s Shaun Pettigrew and Los Angeles-based John Early.

Above you can see John hard at work on a shot for Acura. I’ll save the image for later, but the shot is the kind of motion-oriented imagery we associate with auto ads. Don’t take the feeling of motion for granted—it’s carefully constructed. I’ll let John explain:

We went on location in downtown Long Beach, CA and used a specialized rig to create a motion blur that is very organic in nature. Then the car is stripped in from a CGI model. We also shot a Panoscan HDRI image to map the actual location’s reflections onto the CGI model for increased reality.

But here’s a Wonderful Machine Cog Exclusive—we have pictures to represent the process for you. First, the site is prepared.

This way, it’s not necessary to wash with Photoshop later. The next step is the process of producing motion, which has a straightforward appearance.

But this does not yet have the desired atmosphere; here’s the scene and the blur after the necessary changes.

But first, let’s make sure the car fits.

Some compositing is still needed, but the final effect is more real than the “real” scene above. Here, finally, is the image.

What’s amazing is that, without paying much attention to the actual computer processes, the CGI imagery requires very carefully planned photography.

Stay tuned for our next post, as we look over Shaun Pettigrew’s shoulder.

-Asad

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