Some ideas need a bit of magic to come alive. That can have several reasons. The idea might need expensive set builds or takes place in a very remote location that is hard to access with a full-blown crew and heavy gear. Perhaps sometimes it is simply not possible to produce in reality. That is when digital set extension comes into play. It explains like this – some parts of the image are created in front of an actual camera and others are created on the computer to enhance reality or achieve the impossible.
Digital set extensions can also save money. How many productions have a budget to hang up a car on the wall or to build a set to make it look like it’s hung up a wall?
It can go further of course. The images below have been entirely created on the computer. Going this way gives you great freedom to tweak things like angles, materials or backgrounds, even after the shoot. Those change request are definitely a lot more expensive with photography or film. Because, one would need to get all set elements, the subject and the crew back on location. There, they then have to match what has been done before.
A story of wool (processing). This one started quite mysterious. I’ve been asked to show the factory but not make it look like a factory. It was also important that the photos look sharp. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it. Now here is what I got from this.
A) We’ve to tackle low light conditions. The client himself took photos beforehand and came across long exposure times and motion blur.
B) They want to focus on the process, rather than showing the whole facility. This assignment is about storytelling and actively hiding distracting elements.
It goes without saying that when a client brings her own camera, your photos must stand out in comparison. The machinery was impressive. There was plenty of interesting detail but only limited access to it. The last thing you want is that your lighting gear tangles up in the countless moving parts all around. Not to mention the damage and potential consequences when everything has to be shut down. As a professional I know the limitations under the given circumstances. I gave the client a rundown of the process before I started. It was important that they understand what I had to do to capture what was asked of me. That built up trust and a platform to communicate the process. In the end, I was allowed to move more freely than initially planed.
This shoot was for a retailer who imports liquors for the upper class. We see Croizet Cognac, DQ Vodka and Arta Tequila. Naturally those brands have nothing to do with each other and that causes a few conflicts.
The DQ didn’t want to glow unless it was perfectly centred in front of the light and the Arta acted more like a prism that concentrates the light in hot pools rather than spreading it nicely in the bottle. At least the XO stood there cool as on one foot, basking itself in its own golden glow. Hooray for Cognac! Those three are the bright side. One the other side we have a Beau Joic Champagne. I thought a black bottle on black background would look pretty slick.
Both photos have something in common. The underground is the same acrylic sheet. Thanks to Fresnel reflections, I could perfectly control the colour of the ground with the colour of the background.
Did I say reflections? Oh yes, I did. Here’s a TIP. I’ll always shoot on a reflective material, unless I’m absolutely certain that there won’t be any reflections needed in the final image. It is much easier to remove or reduce reflections in post, as it is to paint them back in. This goes especially for complex items.
I did not taste any of ’em in case you wonder, if they are worth the extra coin. I’m sure they are. The Vodka has a silver tube in the centre. It is a cooling pipe that keeps the bottle chilled when you take it out of the fridge. Neat idea!