Planning is often key to a successful shoot. But it’s not always easy. When you’re an automotive photographer, for example, then you, the car and the location may be in three different parts of the country. So, it can take some ingenuity and creative thinking to figure it out. When car photographer, Sam Dobbins, decided to shoot his newly rebuilt “Rocket Bunny Volkswagen GTI”, he found the perfect solution.
Dobbins wanted to photograph it the same way he would shoot any other car for a magazine. He wanted to photograph the car at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut. The problem was, he lived a thousand miles away in Florida, and the car was being rebuilt in New York. With no way to scout the location in advance with the car, Dobbins turned to racing game Forza 6 to previsualise the shoot.
The car build itself happened as the result of a rear end crash Dobbins had been involved with. He had a brand new car, that had just finished being modified, when he was hit by another car on the way to Southern Worthersee in Helen, Georgia.
At this point he was faced with a choice. Repair, or rebuild from scratch? Dobbins chose the latter. With the help of the folks at Swoopsbuilt, Vossen Wheels, where Dobbins is creative director, and a few others, he build the car of his dreams.
Having shot many magazine features of custom VW builds in the past, he wanted the same fate for his own vehicle. He chose the beautiful and legendary Lime Rock Park track in Connecticut, but he had a problem. He had no way to get there to scout the location. His car was also in the process of being rebuilt, and he lived a thousand miles away.
Fortunately, computer games, and especially racing games, have come a very long way since those early days. Forza 6 has extremely realistic graphics. It also happens to contain both the car Dobbins owned (although not quite as modified) as well as the Lime Rock Park track. So, using the game, he was able to virtually scout the location, as well as previsualise the stills and video sequences he could shoot on the day once he was there.
It was a good job he did, too, as he only had a 30 minute window on the day to actually shot before he had to get off the track.
In the end, it was all worth it. He not only got his car featured in the magazine using his own photos and words, but it adorned the front page, too.
A pretty unique solution to the problem, and probably not one that would occur to many of us. CG has long since been a method of previsualisation in the movies. It’s only recently that it’s started coming to stills photography, though. I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen it done with a video game.
You can check out Sam’s Instagram feed to see some more images of the car, and the build itself.
What have you done before to location scout without being there? To previsualise the images while still sitting in the comfort of your home? Let us know in the comments.