Giving Cars Some Stick Since the Nineties

Giving Cars Some Stick Since the Nineties

Since the nineties I’ve had one piece of kit that has helped me capture exactly what I need for clients such as Bentley, Peugeot and Subaru. To the passer by this kit looks like an extendable thick stick, something fire-fighters might use to rescue a cat from a tree, but to me, it’s a trusty sword.

You won’t be surprised that these ‘sticks’ (or carbon fibre automotive rigs to be more accurate) can cost tens of thousands of pounds. Though on the outside they look pretty simple and easy to replicate, in reality they keep expensive camera equipment safe and take human error out of creating the perfect motion shot.

Ford Expedition, Utah

Ford Expedition, Utah

Automotive rigs have evolved since the late eighties. Now we can also extend the show with virtual rig / CGI, but without sounding big headed, this only enhances a shot if you have a deep understanding of how a car moves in the real world.

For the images here, we wanted to give clear, sharp, in focus shots of the car with the illusion of speed, so the vehicle moved independently of the background. The rig is our first choice for this. It provides the most organic and realistic motion effect with the added bonus of the effect of light painting – perfect for sheet metal.

Volvo, LA photo shoot

Volvo – Lower Grand LA, original capture

Bentley, Valencia Spain photo shoot

Bentley Continental GT – Valencia, Spain, original capture

Bentley Continental Finished Image

Bentley Continental GT – final image

Subaru, Japan

Subaru – Sapporo, Japan

As it cuts out wobble and vibration (unlike a tracking shot), while the car is moved ever so slowly at just centimeters per second, it focuses directly on the car giving a sharp image with an aptly blurred background – in essence mirroring movement how it looks in reality. Exposures can be 8 seconds for one frame, but that’s enough info for now!

See how it’s done here, with me and my carbon fibre rig extending to 25ft! The pictures below show Jaguar XF in Monaco, Lexus IS in South of France and the Volvo in Scotland – my rig travels far and wide!

Jaguar C-XF photo shoot

Jaguar C-XF – Brooklands UK

Lexus, South France

Lexus – Southern France

Lexus, Finished Image

Lexus – final image

Lexus, South France

Lexus – Provence, France

Volvo, Scotland

Volvo – Scotland

Jaguar, Monte Carlo

Jaguar XF – Monte Carlo

Nice, France

Nice, France

Volvo, LAX Airport

Volvo – LAX Airport

Creating Movement the ‘Virtual’ Rig Way

You can create movement after the shoot, whether you use a real or CG car and it can look extremely realistic. ‘Virtual’ rig movement works best with CG cars and HDR domes (see my tutorial on how to create HDRs for CGI –

To do this though; it helps if you have experience of shooting with a rig or of observing the contrast between movement and background on a delayed scale. ‘Virtual’ rig can be very good, but only in the right hands, so we’re letting you in on some post-production secrets and on how to do it well. -this video shows how movement is created in post in the latter part of the film – 2 minutes onwards.

Next week we’ll be looking at prototypes – some of which I have shot using the rig… see you there.

Here are some finished examples of ‘virtual’ rig – Peugeot, and the rest where we used carbon fibre automotive rigs:


Peugeot – computer generated movement

Opel Astra, Alps

Opel Astra – French Alps

Jaguar C-XF, UK

Jaguar C-XF – Brooklands, UK

Chrysler C300, LA

Chrysler C300 – LA

Volvo Ocean Race, Scotland

Volvo Ocean Race – Scotland

Cadillac STS, LA

Cadillac STS – LA, LAX 405 tunnel

Cadillac STS, LA

Cadillac STS – LA , 2nd Street tunnel

Cadillac STS, LA

Cadillac STS – Mojave Desert

Bentley Continental Launch Image

Bentley Continental launch image

Bentley Continental, Spain

Bentley Continental GT – Spain

Volvo S60, California

Volvo S60 – California

Ford Expedition, Colorado

Ford Expedition – Colorado

Volvo Freeway, LA

Volvo – 710 Freeway LA

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