Virtual Motion Blur Walkthrough: SLK350 - Shutterlit Photography Featured

© Ste Ho © Ste Ho

Motion shots have always been a great way to emphasize the speed of a vehicle.  It allows the viewer to use their imagination to picture the vehicle in action; and this is what makes these motion images so critical amongst automotive photographers. There are many ways to create these shots but in the end it boils down to the photographer’s preference.

Evolution

A year ago, I made a detailed post on my blog here about how I was introduced to automotive photography. Over the past few years, I spent time creating motion shots with a rig system to sharpen my skillset.  Recently, I began to use motion blur software such as Bleex as a replacement for my rig. Bleex allows you to create vector paths within your image in which the motion blur will follow. This even works around curves or bends allowing you full control over the motion in your image.

The List of Items You Will Need

1 A Vehicle (Something nice would be ideal)

2 Digital Camera w/ Lens (35-60mm focal length is what I normally use)

3 Tripod (To keep the camera stationary for each shot)

4 Hydraulic Jack (If needed to blur the wheels)

5 Virtual Motion Blur Software (Bleex was used for this image build)

6 Adobe Photoshop for the Image Merging and Post Processing

The Three Essential Shots

1 A shot of the car on location.

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2 A shot of the location without the car for motion rendering in the software (Bleex).

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3 A shot of the wheel in motion with matching angle. This can be done on location while the car is in place or anywhere after.

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Control

The reason why I prefer using the motion software is because setting up my rig system takes up a lot of time on location. When I want to shoot something for my personal portfolio, I cannot always obtain a location permit. In those instances, motion software makes life much easier.  It is true that shooting car to car can be fast and effective but you need more than one driver and two or more cars to execute it. It can be a little tricky to get the desired shot while shooting car to car on a public road in traffic. With the motion blur software it is easier to shoot inside a small area like a parking garage safely while allowing full control over the end result.

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    Original Image

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    Blocking sun flare off with my hand.

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    A shot of the wheels in motion for the SLK.

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    Adding motion blur to the body panel reflections as well as compositing the moving wheels from the previous shot.

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    Back plate shot for rendering in motion blur software.

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    Creating a separate layer for the shadows by using the original shadow as reference.

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    Adding the car on top of the shadow layer.

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    Creating vector paths with software for the motion blur.

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    Final image of the back plate after rendering from motion blur software.

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    Import the layers of the car and shadow on top of the rendered image.

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    Final Image - Added light flares

Above is the image build with a brief description for each stage.

* Use your arrow keys on your keyboard or use swipe touch gestures on the image to navigate.

 

Conclusion

Virtual motion software is a great alternative to creating realistic action shots like the ones you see in most automotive brochures. This has become a common technique by most professional shooters besides using commercial rig systems. This may not be the easiest or the most affordable way to produce an automotive motion shot compared to other methods I mentioned earlier and there is definitely an art to combining the different elements together to form the final image, however as challenging as it is the results can be well worth it.

If you would like to give Bleex a try, feel free to download their trial version on their website. www.getbleex.com

 

4 comments

  • Matthew Blasi
    Matthew Blasi Friday, 29 March 2013 09:19 Comment Link

    Great write up, I'm curious how Bleex compares to VirtualRig, would love for someone to do a comparison on that. :)

  • Nigel Harniman
    Nigel Harniman Friday, 29 March 2013 23:15 Comment Link

    Hi Ste,

    Great demo of vector based motion blur!

    I think it highlights perfectly a few of issues that this type of software has and that is

    1 The relationship of distance to object relative to each other problem.
    2 Reflections in paint work are static
    3 Lack of realistic jitter "Bleex" has made an attempted to fix but this is a distance to object issue as well?
    4 The most important, no "light painting effect" on the sheet metal as the car moves through the scene which can give the car great shape and form if used correctly.

    How to fix

    1 Cut all the trees out in the mid ground and blur separately and the do the same with horizon.
    2 Blur the reflections in car and then draw all the hard edges back in, as you mentioned.
    3 Cut all the trees out in the mid ground and apply jitter separately and the do the same with horizon.
    4 "light painting effect" not fixable

    I definitely prefer real rig but client like the cost benefits of CG motion blur but they dont always like the results.

    2 cents

    Harniman

  • Ste Ho
    Ste Ho Monday, 01 April 2013 13:56 Comment Link

    Hello Nigel,

    Thank you so much for your feedback! I am trying to use this article to have a very general walk through about the other options available to produce motion shots. I am truly aware there are more advance techniques to improve the realism by using CG motion blur as you mentioned above :)

    I also agree real rig is the best way to go, however I never have any experience using commercial under car mount rig yet, and my DIY rig images are usually distorted from the wide angle lens. CG motion is a great start for me to achieve something similar.

    Thank you again and you are a great inspiration!

    Regards,
    Ste

  • Bill
    Bill Thursday, 04 April 2013 23:33 Comment Link

    Nice article, Ste! Rich and I both downloaded the trial and going to play around with it

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