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Old 08-24-2012, 11:52 PM   #1
vision.dynamix
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Default DIY - Beginner's Guide to Automotive Rig Shots



Disclaimer: There are many ways of approaching the Automotive Rig Shot. There are much cheaper approaches, and there are much more expensive approaches. Outlined below is the way I do it. By no means am I saying its the only way, by no means am I saying its the best way, and absolutely by no means am I saying Im the best at this..Im not even good. If you want to see great Rig Shots, look up Ste Ho, Visual Echoes, Armin Ausejo, among many others. This is just one common way and one common collection of parts. Also, keep in mind, you do run the risk of damaging the car and/or your camera. By reading this tutorial, you take sole responsibility of all risks and waive the writer, the host, the forum, and all contributors of any liability.

Part 1 - The equipment

Parts I use:
Suction Cups - Manfrotto Avenger F1000 Cups - Minumum of 2 (I own and use up to 4)
Clamps - Manfrotto Super Clamps w/ Standard Stud - Minimum of 3 (I own half a dozen or so..can never have too many of these.)
Boom - 1.9” OD Aluminum Tubing. Currently I use 1 10’ section and 2 5’ sections (This allows me to have a boom of 5-20’, at 5’ increments)
Camera Attachment - Manfrotto Magic Arm Kit - 1 Kit is enough. Also handy to keep on hand is a small ball head like the PanaVise “Adjusting Knuckle”. Also, Some prefer the Variable Friction Magic Arm instead of the Lever Locking one. Note the Variable Friction Magic Arm I linked does not include a camera platform.
Camera and Lens - Wide. Generally I shoot in the range of 16-24mm Field of View. Note I said FoV, and not Focal Lenght. This is due to the “Crop Factor” on many common SLRs. Obviously, if youre using a Full Frame body, a lens with a FL in that range would be perfect. If youre using a crop body, a lens with a FL in the 10-16mm range is more ideal.
Neutral Density Filter - Now, in order to get the effect, we need a long shutter speed. Sure, we can wait until the lighting is JUST perfect to get a 5-20 second exposure, but I personally dont have the time to only be able to work for 10 minutes twice a day. This is where a Neutral Density filter comes into play. There are many options here ranging from $10 to hundreds of dollars, so you can look elsewhere for that information. Ive found a ND4 works out well for me, considering I also use a CPL.
Circular Polarizer Filter - This filter is a must, IMO, for any automotive photographer. It enhances dramatic skies and also cuts reflections. Again, there are many options here ranging from $10 to hundreds of dollars, so you can look elsewhere for that information. CPL Filters do cut the light transmittance, further slowing your shutter speed.



Nice to have - Impact Umbrella Bracket - Used for more distance between the suction cup and boom.
Also, a remote shutter release for your camera would be nice, also.
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Last edited by vision.dynamix; 03-26-2013 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 08-24-2012, 11:53 PM   #2
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Part 2 - The shooting

This is where you can set your creativity wild. The ways you can attach the rig to the car, and the resulting angles you get, are virtually limitless.

The suction cups work best when you work with them, not against them. What does this mean? They like surfaces that are horizontal, or close to it. They also like surfaces that are relatively flat. Your hood, trunk and roof are great, as are the front and rear windshields. Also, in my experience, the cups work best when the mounting stud is positioned vertical, or close to it.

Of course, you'll want the suction cups to be clean, as well as the body of the car.

Roofs are generally thin, and such, you need to stick to the edges. Under no circumstances should you put a cup in the middle of the roof of a Subaru without a sunroof. Bad **** will happen.

Sometimes I will fully assemble the boom on the ground, sometimes I will assemble it on the car one section at a time. Depends on what I have for help.

Now, lets jump in the car and mash the gas pedal! Hah. No. Most rig shots have the car rolling at under 5MPH, usually free rolling down a hill, or being pushed, often in reverse! The reason for this is to avoid vibrations from the engine running.

So with your helper in the car, you can get the car rolling. In the meantime, you follow along with your hand on the camera. Usually I will apply gentle downward pressure to suppress boom bounce. Yes, my rig bounces. All rigs bounce. You just learn to deal with it. Feel free to fire off as many photos as you can before your helper has to apply the brakes.

For angles where the rear of the car is visible, you'll want to make sure your helper is completely off the foot brake while exposing the photo as to not catch the brake lights!

And yes, sometimes the camera is hung upside down. Its easy enough to flip in Photoshop, since you have some work to do in there anyway.

How you set up your rig will greatly and directly effect the amount of photoshop work you have to do. If you look at the example photos in the next Part, you will see that at no point can you directly see the rig on the body. Skies are a lot easier to fake than body work. Now, it absolutely is possible to clone a rig off body work, however it is a ton of work.

Same goes for the background. If you rig in front of a highly detailed building, you have to recreate the building in photoshop when you clone out the rig.




(Owns $10k in gear, overuses Instagram.)

Last edited by vision.dynamix; 08-25-2012 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 08-24-2012, 11:53 PM   #3
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Part 3 - Post processing

Alright, here we go. The biggest weakness in my skill set.

When you import your photo, you can do whatever you normally do with your RAW conversions.

RigA by Khanh Duong | KHDPhoto.com, on Flickr

Then, clone out the rig. With CS5/6, what I normally do is select the rig with QuickMask, delete it, ContentAware Fill to start. Then Ill copy different areas of the photo as needed to continue filling in where the rig was. After that, it's a matter of using the Clone Stamp and the Smudge and Blur tools to make it convincing.

In the example photo, I shot directly into the setting sun, which meant that in order to get a proper exposure on the car, the sky would be completely blown out. That was fixed by dropping in a sky from another exposure.


RigB by Khanh Duong | KHDPhoto.com, on Flickr

The result:

WRX Rig by Khanh Duong | KHDPhoto.com, on Flickr

There is a lot of work left to do on the "final" photo, however, for now, Im happy with it.

Now it's your turn. Go out, try it out, have some fun. Ask some questions and I and others will try to answer them. Post some of yours!
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Old 08-24-2012, 11:57 PM   #4
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As more tips come to me I will add them. Also Ill try to get more example photos.
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Old 08-25-2012, 12:41 AM   #5
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thanks for posting this...very informative
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:59 AM   #6
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If you have any questions please ask! There are lots of solutions to various problems that will come up, that I cant possibly remember them all to put them down into words.

Also, I know there are quite a few riggers here on NASIOC, and while I know there are some Photographers who still think the Rig Shot is an Automotive Photographers' trade secret, most are very willing to help.
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Old 08-26-2012, 11:12 PM   #7
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Thanks for posting this vision!
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Old 08-26-2012, 11:17 PM   #8
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It kind of surprises me that all that's done for the photoshopping is the clone function, it just seems too easy, mainly because it's such an easy thing to do. The rig setup looks like a pain in the ass though
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Old 08-27-2012, 04:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smurftastic View Post
It kind of surprises me that all that's done for the photoshopping is the clone function, it just seems too easy, mainly because it's such an easy thing to do. The rig setup looks like a pain in the ass though
The rig isnt that bad. Occasionally Ill shoot without an assistant, and can still get rig shots done alone. Theres no other way to get dynamic photos alone. Rigging allows for much crazier angles than panning and chase-car style shots, also.

Personally, for me, cloning out the rig is the hard part.
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Old 08-27-2012, 04:33 PM   #10
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nice! thanks for posting!
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Old 08-28-2012, 10:08 AM   #11
vision.dynamix
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Setup of the first shot (kinda)


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Old 08-28-2012, 11:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vision.dynamix View Post
The rig isnt that bad. Occasionally Ill shoot without an assistant, and can still get rig shots done alone. Theres no other way to get dynamic photos alone. Rigging allows for much crazier angles than panning and chase-car style shots, also.

Personally, for me, cloning out the rig is the hard part.
Do you ever have to deal with the pole bouncing at all?

I'll make you a deal, you drive to Virginia and do rig shots along with me and I'll clone out both cars
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:31 AM   #13
vision.dynamix
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smurftastic View Post
Do you ever have to deal with the pole bouncing at all?

I'll make you a deal, you drive to Virginia and do rig shots along with me and I'll clone out both cars
Yes, the rig does bounce, which is why I shoot with an assistant whenever possible. When shooting alone, I just gotta use a faster shutter speed. Having a longer run also helps, as its the starting and stopping of the car that causes the bounce (unless youre on a rough surface)
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:24 PM   #14
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Bumping for reference.
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Old 08-08-2013, 09:53 PM   #15
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