The Power of the CGI & Photography Partnership as told by Hunter Freeman and Michael Tompert

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More and more nowadays, photographers are needing to partner with other artists to help create the content that the client requires.  It has led to interesting partnerships for sure.  On a recent project for Covidien with Lehman Millet, photographer Hunter Freeman partnered with digital artist Michael Tompert of Raygun Studio to interpret the art director’s layouts.  A combination of photography, CGI and a lot of creativity helped produce the final ads.

When we asked Hunter and Michael to share with us what was most note worthy about their experience, here is what they had to say:

Hunter Freeman

“This project was designed to have a lot of CGI in it, and the photography needed to do a couple of things.  First, the captures of the talent had to convey/support the concept behind the ad, and two, the images had to be shot so that Michael would be able to easily integrate them into his CGI work, e.g. having matching perspective, lighting, etc..

It’s a fun challenge to get the talent to imagine themselves in a completely imaginary environment, and all of our group did a great job.  I shot them on a simple white background, and, in some cases, had small structures for them to lean on, or work around.  Mostly, though, I got them to really imagine/believe they were in Michael’s fantastical CGI environment.

Having Michael there to place the images into his illustrations – while we were shooting (!) – was a huge help, not to mention a ton of fun.”

Michael Tompert

“Having worked for and with Hunter on various occassions in the past, I didn’t hesitate when the call came to cover the CGI portion of a project he was intending to land.

I have many projects in the portfolio that are completely CGI, meaning I shoot the pictures not with a camera, but with a raytracer, or raygun, I still prefer working on projects that combine real photography with CGI. It’s kind of a best of both worlds scenario.

It also means, there is a photo shoot instead of just emails, iChats and conference calls. And as photo shoots go, they might very well be the last thing left that hasn’t been virtualized, put on the Internet, or made into an app in the digital image creation process. It’s a chance for everyone from the client, art director, photographer, CGI artist to meet for a day, face to face and learn a little about each other. A great opportunity for everyone involved to stick their heads together and riff on what the image can be or could become and try things on the fly.

And best of all, you get to have a great lunch and cream puff cakes for dessert.

It was no different in this case where we started out quite early in the morning, trying out all kinds of things, from different props, to different lighting and angles and could drop screenshots right into the live 3D scene where the model of the CGI art sculpture lived and building the hospital room in front of the art director as the photos came in to see if everything chimes.

In what was really a very long day, Hunter shot I think 3 or 4 talent in any imaginable pose and all kinds of contraptions that made up the hospital room. it was a little past dinner time before the final file was copied over.

It’s interesting how these two worlds, the CGI and HGI (Hunter Generated Images) are so different, where most of Hunter’s time is spent weeks in advance prepping for the shoot with castings, and wardrobe and props, calendars and travel arrangements all culminating in this one day.  While my world just starts on that day and the weeks of rendering, compositing, art direction, beautifying and finalizing are all still ahead when I leave with the drive.

But for that one day of the photoshoot those two worlds are one and the same.”