Recently in July I was asked to shoot a video piece for a client I have know for quite a few years. We first met up when she was involved in marketing with a firm in London. During that time I shot stills at events and various other promotions that were organised by the company. Now some years later she has progressed further and is her own boss and wanted me to make a short presentation to camera for her company.
I produce video for people who want to present themselves or have an explanation article for say a company meeting or conference. The web is a fascinating arena for displaying who and what you are, so having a video clip to help the viewer understand and engage with what you are trying to share on a site is all an add bonus.
The equipment I use for this is fairly straight foreword. I often use DSLR to record the video in HD that is very good quality for this use where the final production will be hosted by Vimeo or Youtube.There is no short cut to be had when we come to sound and lighting. This needs to be the same as if you were shooting for a more complex situation due to lighting a scene and the sound recorded has to be a good standard.
We did have fun producing this. It was quite a warm July day and though the room we used was cool at first after an hour or so of studio lighting the temperature grew. My client was determined to do all the sections of the video shoot in one take and actually nailed it with considerable ease. That made the edit process in FCP for me an easier task. Well she is a professional!
It’s four o’clock on a Friday afternoon.The mobile rings. A request to handle a project that needs to be completed by Monday 9 am without fail. This can be the challenging and darn right rewarding life of the professional corporate photographer. The brief is to photograph an Audi A1 for a conference that is being held the following Tuesday. The situation seems pretty straight foreword. Go out and photograph a car to the brief, there you have it.
The agency has been instructed that the car needs to be shot as a rear view. Just the boot area and this is going to be printed to full scale and displayed at the conference. The first thing to do here is start calling all local Audi dealerships to see who has a clean car and were they happy for me to photograph on site. After about one and a half hour calling around I had found some possibilities.
Early that Saturday morning I set out with cameras at the ready. What a lovely day! Though told it may have some bright spell by the weather channel the strong wind with horizontal rain patches was something to be desired. I travelled to the first location and managed to shoot a car out in the car park at a dealership.
All pretty pleased here called and reported the shoot was in the bag. But found the brief has now changed and that it’s been decide that the boot of the car needs to open to see the inside of the car. This was obviously not the initial brief. They can change like that! I’ve now outstayed my welcome at this dealer and need to find a new one to accommodate me. Later that morning a result and found a dealer that was a fair distance drive but had a car in a showroom out of the not so good weather conditions. Perfect. I shot the car using daylight and the lights from the dealership with just a small fill in flash and due to only the one angle needed here it was off back to the studio.
It had been decided that the image needed was to represent a car at the show. My goal here was to have a finished piece of artwork ready for the printer to produce a life size display. Yes life size! The conference set people were going to use the boot shelf area to display a particular product at the conference. The first stage was to do a cut out around the car to separate the background. Not an easy job cutting around smooth curvy lines especially when it’s ending up a life size image. Any imperfections would show here. The car interior was black so lightening was needed to give it some detail in the upholstery. Then I needed to replace the glass areas with cloud due to being able to see the car showroom within the front screen through the car as in image one. How best to do that, go outside and shoot the sky so you have a reality image to drop in.
Cloud Sky Mask
This then was a procedure of making various layers and also masking wanted areas to be able to compile the end result. All reflections had to be removed on the paintwork of the car and highlights painted in to give it the overall effect. The number plate was an actual shot to give its shape and colour and logo added later. Finally I had the all clear on the finished piece of artwork ready to be uploaded to the printers at 6pm Sunday evening. That was my weekend!
Audi A1 Conference Display
The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work for Awards 2017
Photographs from the Awards held on the 22nd and 23rd February 2017
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Group shots are one area of photography I am asked to do several times a year. These can range from forty people to possibly one hundred and twenty in a single shot. I have a technical process to produce group shots that make them stand out from the rest, where no one has blinked, all hopefully smiling and the surrounding area telling the story. How I hear you say!
A few years back when shooting on film you would take various images and then choose the best one to perhaps print from. This was the only way it could be done and was very hit or miss. It is virtually impossible in a large group not to have someone blinking, looking in the wrong direction, talking to each other and not paying attention and yes hiding! Even when they are asked to “Look this way”.
With the aid of digital photography virtually anything is possible. It is a big cheat but can get you out, not of “trouble” but a real life situation that is not avoidable in these situations. This technique I use brings back what the eye sees that a camera has difficulty with.
What I stride to do is obtain the best image in the first place, but have the ability to correct slight inperfections at a later stage to suite!
Usually when I do these it is in a conference type situation so a large group would need to be positioned in front of and on the stage set. This is the only space you have to do this right?
Before the people arrive I would take a shot of the set to grab the image that is on screen. Why, because when using electronic flash this will be bleached out and not captured in the actually group shot. This gives you the logo or name of conference to add later. Then when the group arrive they are positioned best one can and in the time frame you have. Usually this is done within five minutes because people will start to become board and fidgety and you will loose there concentration and co-operation.
Capture main Group Images:
Next is to shoot say five to six frames of the group all in the same place. This then gives you in post pro the chance to choose the master image and from that you can use any of the other images to replace expressions or blinking eyes that may be apparent in the master you want to use.
Post Pro Retouch:
Here you have to use image processing/retouching programs and I’ll warn you it is not for the faint hearted. The process to set logos behind people on screens and doing the changes with flawless accuracy does take a very competent retoucher. And I’ll admit sometimes can catch me out, so I call upon expert help from one of my team.
So you achieve a conference set with logos on, all people looking and smiling in the right direction, without blinking eyes. Usually I obtain a 99.9% hit rate using this method and am often re booked by clients due to the quality of my work.