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Car commercial question


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#1 Wayne Orr

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 12:54 PM

I was watching a car commercial not long ago, and I got to thinking - just how many takes do they do to get the perfect shot at the end of the commercial where the "hero" car speeds into frame, jams on the brakes, spins about 120 degrees, and stops perfectly composed in the center of the frame. Of course, they could shoot many many takes, waiting for that "perfect" take, but that didn't make sense to me.

What I finally figured out is, shoot Super 35, allowing space left and right for a little error. When you get the perfect take for the spin, which means the car ends up facing camera correctly, you've got it, even if the car missed its ideal mark, because you are going to correct that position in post with a bit of pan and scan, and pushing in on the image until you have that perfect final composition. (The background on these shots is usually pretty abstract, so if you make your pan adjustments to place the car center frame, who's to notice?)

I mentioned my theory to a film buff, and he said, no, these guys are so good they can actually hit the exact mark when they spin to a stop. Not very damn likely, I'm thinking, so I like my explanation, and I would hope there are some experienced commercial folks who can tell me I'm right, or prepare to eat crow.

If you can back up your answer with a few commercial credits, that would be great. He is really a hard sell. ;)
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#2 Mitch Gross

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 01:04 PM

Just about every single high end car commercial employs at least some CGI or post effects (how's that for a bunch of qualifiers? I'd say about 95%) to pretty up the image.
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#3 Evan Winter

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 01:46 PM

I've camera assisted on several high profile/monster budget car commercials and while they likley do some recomposition in post they also shoot the skid/turn several times. Several years ago I worked on the car commercial for the Hyundai Tiburon (the newest version's introductory commercial) and they shot in a white-out studio and did the skid about 5 - 7 times until the director was confident he had what he needed.

Edited by Evan Winter, 11 June 2007 - 01:48 PM.

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#4 Bob Hayes

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 11:24 PM

The drivers are that good. They will nail it more often then not. But usually they have taken a couple of days practicing the maneuver before they do it on camera.
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#5 Hal Smith

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 11:46 PM

If you drive a rear wheel drive car, you can have a little fun and replicate those turns. Get out in a large parking lot with lots of room around you (Sunday morning recommended), get up to 25 mph or so, cut the wheel one way or another, and stomp on the emergency brake at the same time. Now call up Hal Needham and see if he's hiring (or John Landis). For a front wheel drive car where the emergency acts on the front wheels, you'd have to disable the front brakes - no longer amateur hour in a parking lot.

Let me tell you about the time I went down the hill past corner 11 at Road Atlanta backwards TWICE in a Lotus Elan steering in the mirrors to keep the car on the track. Did it twice before I figured out what I was doing wrong. Or the time I got so far off the course at Elkhart Lake at 160 mph that I should have brought a tent and gone camping. Got back on the course without stopping, and got my heart out of my mouth and back where it belonged at a later time.

And you think film-making is nuts?

A disclaimer: I wouldn't try a hand brake turn in an SUV - they tend to be top heavy, if you did it exactly right you'd pull it off, if not you may put the beast on its roof.
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 12:06 AM

http://www.wfb4.com/
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#7 Tony Brown

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 01:41 PM

For a front wheel drive car where the emergency acts on the front wheels,


Huh? Never had one of them.......

As was said, precision drivers really are that good......
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