Curve Digital recently collaborated with the prolific automotive photographer Anton Watts. His vision to tell the story of this new electric marque on it’s journey home through the Norwegian islands, was something appealing. Their ears were further pricked when Anton suggested a collaboration as a full CGI project. ‘FCGI’, meaning that these images don’t have any conventional photography involved. Everything is rendered to a photo-realistic level within the computer.
Now you may think this is a strange project for a photographer to get involved in, as it doesn’t require the obvious involvement of a world class shooter. But what Anton didn’t bring with photography, he more than made up for with artistic direction and idea generation. His foresight for the future means he realizes that should the industry fully embrace CGI for asset generation, then he will be sitting front and
center of the good ship ‘Render’.
Their process started with loose conversations about creating a story without constraints. Both budgetary and financial. CGI offers this freedom with ease. They decided to shoot the car on open water and from a great height, along with a more traditional action (rig)
shot and Scandinavian design house. The overriding feeling connecting all of the images was a Nordic atmospheric mist. Something not traditionally seen in conventional, sunny automotive advertising imagery. This challenged us both technically and artistically. Emulating an extreme drone shot Simulating water to create this open water ferry image
Creative freedom is something that appears to be less apparent recently in the realisation of automotive imagery. Often the status quo is the easiest place to start and end. With that in mind, we always try to push past people’s comfort zone’s in our personal work. Giving an alternate look at what could have been while still remaining relevant. Once we had established the creative idea, we started blocking out our 3d scenes with rough placeholders to find our angle, not concerning ourselves with specific details (like which vegetation is indigenous). This is where Anton’s photographic eye was fully tested. The knowledge he possesses from being on countless location shoots brings further authenticity. When we are all happy with lensing/framing etc, we then move in to full production. Detailing the modelling process and adding material shaders to match as closely to real life. Lighting and atmospheric conditions are the next consideration, and with this foggy feeling being so important we tested extensively with sunlight and fog to get the exact look and feel in Anton’s vision. Rendering and retouching is the final stage of bringing the image to life. Our aim at this stage is to add a tone of voice to the project to provoke a visceral response from the viewer.
The flexibility of this process from end-to-end means that Creatives and Photographers have more power than ever before to bring their vision to fruition. Naturally, it can be quite daunting, being able to have anything you want, but we firmly believe that this freedom will improve and diversify automotive imagery, from what has become the current norm of shooting in often overused locations with restricted budgets, to a much more interesting and diverse medium. The possibilities are limitless, location fees are zero, as are on-set production costs. Market variations can be created with speed and accuracy, and most importantly there should be no compromise in the original creative concept