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Studio Sense: Where two worlds connect: photography & CGI

Given the wide range of media platforms that clients are now using to promote and advertise their products and services, it’s increasingly important to establish all the creative outlets at the outset of any project so we can make sure that these are accommodated within our production pipeline.

Open and clear dialogue from the outset can only ever be a good thing as we can communicate to our clients the kind of flexibility that can be built into a project from the start and ensure that what we produce will work across all their intended platforms.

By thinking ahead and using integrated production we can prevent any time-consuming and costly reactive rehash that might otherwise occur. And we obtain better creative results!

Calm in a tea-cup: From a series of beautifully staged still-life photographs for Pukka Organic Teas where the hard work took place before the shoot with precise prop selection and meticulous art direction.
Calm in a tea-cup: From a series of beautifully staged still-life photographs for Pukka Organic Teas where the hard work took place before the shoot with precise prop selection and meticulous art direction.

Multi-layered productivity 

Shadowplay are never simply reactive to a brief. We always try to add value by discovering how our clients can benefit in other ways from our involvement in image production. Since our studio is involved in photography, CGI, video and animation we have a lot of expertise to call upon and use on behalf of our clients to get their messages across.

With such strength in depth we can move on from the standard image requirements for advertising. We’re free to consider mixed media and how it could enhance an overall campaign and add value to the mix.

That could be by offering a multi-layered final composition to allow the client to create assets for online animation, or by providing a video shoot on the same day as the photography using the same DSLR cameras.

This simultaneous video footage can be used to capture behind-the-scenes activity, adding another level of interest to the entire process and providing powerful PR material that can be promoted through social media and used for digital content.

In short, we seek to provide whatever might be required to add impact to a campaign and increase the value of our involvement in any project.

Off-road parking: Boldly taking a vehicle where it had never gone before, Shadowplay used their CGI skills to blend this Mitsubishi seamlessly into a Welsh landscape previously shot on location.
Off-road parking: Boldly taking a vehicle where it had never gone before, Shadowplay used their CGI skills to blend this Mitsubishi seamlessly into a Welsh landscape previously shot on location.

Back to basics? 

Over the last couple of years Shadowplay has noticed that, even though the technological advances in CGI mean that more complex integrated productions can be created, certain industries are developing a taste for a simpler, pared-down approach.

The fashion and lifestyle sectors, for example, may now often prefer a simple graded image as opposed to complex multi-faceted compositions. This preference could be put down to the consumer focus of such products and the nature of trust and transparency – or it might simply be a fashion trend in itself that happens to be currently popular in these markets.

For now, however, it also remains true that the technology and automotive industries still tend to favour more complex images, often highly retouched with sharp focus, dramatic lighting and an increasing use of the whole gamut of CGI tools.

To meet each and every demand, our studio has to be able to create effective imagery at both extremes – and at all points in between – from traditional naturalistic photography to complex multi-layered and digitally-manipulated images that can be hyper-realistic or even surreal.

Hi-tech cuisine: Detailed 3D rendering was employed to emphasise the clean lines and technical sophistication of Hotpoint kitchen appliances with ultra sharp contrast and metallic reflections.
Hi-tech cuisine: Detailed 3D rendering was employed to emphasise the clean lines and technical sophistication of Hotpoint kitchen appliances with ultra sharp contrast and metallic reflections.

Keeping it real!

When certain clients are keen to see a return to basics with more naturalistic and simpler imagery, then we too need to take a step back and consider alternative ways to retain our freshness, our spontaneity and our originality.

It’s when you’re facing the occasional backlash to the ever-increasing complexity of digital image manipulation that you realise that, yes, less can be more. It’s often too easy to over-think things and follow a set path.

That’s when it’s refreshing and even liberating to go back to just taking the camera out and snapping away with no immediate or calculated purpose – or simply taking time out to visit art galleries to get the inspirational juices flowing again.

There’s a joy and a freedom to stumbling across ideas rather than always trying to thrash them out in front of the computer.

Making the right choices 

What’s exciting right now is that we have such a variety of tools at our disposal which allow us to take so many different paths to achieve a multitude of creative results and where the only limits are our imaginations.

We have choices and we can adopt a naturalistic approach for certain projects and then step up a technological gear to create multi-layered and heavily enhanced imagery when that’s appropriate.

We’ve just got to make sure that we use the right tools at the right time.

Shadowplay is an image-making agency made up of a select team of specialists in photography, CGI and its associated forms of image manipulation. Within this tight-knit studio, the team is free to communicate and collaborate across multiple disciplines to help them formulate ideas. Shadowplay is also a sponsor of the Creative Review Photography Annual 2015.

Lead image: Stepping up a gear: Classic photography combined with clever retouching produced this surreal image of bikes racing along the pages of the Cyclist magazine now masquerading as a mountain road.

Studio Sense is CR’s sponsored series of expert opinion pieces. If you would like to contribute, contact emma.underhill@centaurmedia.com

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