I had the opportunity to work on a series of corporate videos for ACURA. I do a fair bit of car cinematography and generally speaking the approach is roughly the same for every vehicle so I don’t set out to re-invent the wheel; pun intended. In one main respect, this job was different. I was asked to not shoot the exteriors. The reason was the exterior shots were entirely created with computer generated imagery by a company out of Los Angeles. I’m not surprised by this alternative. In fact, I’ve been wondering what has been taking people so long to explore this option? How expensive is it to create one computer generated model? Shooting real exteriors always has its challenges no matter how many times you do it; eliminating bad reflections and creating the good ones that make the car pop of the screen. Photographing exteriors is time consuming and can be costly building large reflector frames and lighting them. If affordable, CGI is definitely the way to go. Build one highly detailed model and rotate it in cyberspace to get all your angles and “shoot” the hell out of it. However, there’s not much of an argument, at this point, for modelling the car interiors inside a computer. Photographing real interiors is simpler, faster and more realistic. There are dozens of switches, dials, stitching and buttons, not to mention all the changes of textures and materials including glass, plastic, vinyl, leather, fabric that need to be considered. Until the day comes when it is faster and cheaper to do it all in CGI, I’ll hopefully still find opportunities for doing cars while I still can.
As a compendium to this topic see my more extensive post on Product cinematography is a dying art.