car packshot – night exterior

The packshot is the essence of each commercial. It’s what the client really pays for – he wants to see his product in all its beauty. So how do you make a car look cool at night? In an open space? Here is how I did it.

Fiat Turkey was our client and a big part of the commercial took place in a night exterior environment. To be specific, we shot in a parking lot outside the olympic stadium of Istanbul. It overlooks some part of the city, which made for a nice backdrop.

Lights were supposed to be the special feature of this film. We wanted plenty of them in the frame – always. And to go even further we used a streak filter (3mm) to create horizontal lines whenever a light flared the lens. Here is the final film:


The general rule of thumb is to have as big of a white flat above the car as possible. That will give you nice reflections and it brings out the lines of a car nicely. So what I wanted was a 20m x 10m frame with any sort of reflecting white cloth on. Cloth in these sizes is hard to come by, so I often times can’t be too hung up on a certain material and have to live with what I can get. In this instance they sew together a silk like cloth that was heavy enough to be tightened on a frame. It was brand new, which was a blessing, as often times used ones come with heavy stains. Don’t ask me, I have no idea why they can never keep them clean. But this one was prestine so we had a nice white reflection in the car paint.


So having the frame was one thing, but it needed to be suspened from the top. High roller stands with a traverse were out of the question as not only the frame was way too big, but also the stands could have easily gotten into frame or the reflection of the car. The solution was a crane with a 70m arm. You need this kind of huge crane as you want to position its base as far away from the hinge as possible. So you don’t want to go high up, what you want is to extend. And most importantly you want the flat to be as low and as close to the car as possible without it being in shot.


We lit the flat from the ground with two 12k in the front and two 6k filling up where the flat was not evenly lit. We covered the lights with a couple of floppies each to avoid light hitting the car directly.


A flat this big easily catches the wind and then you are in trouble, so safety should always be on your mind. We had rope on each corner of the frame and would tighten it to the ground if it wasn’t in the shot otherwise. That means at times we could only have 3 corners secured, because teh 4th one was in the shot.

As I said we wanted to have as many lights in the shot as possible so we put an array of 20 2k’s in the background. All lights were on a dimmer board so we could control them individually or as groups if we had to.

Since our hero was supposed to be in shot as well and even had some dialogue towards the camera we needed one more light. In that case we used a 7ft Panaura (also called octadome) with tungsten lights and eggcrate to avoid spill in the background. The following lighting diagram will explain everything a little more detailled.


I hope this was helpful!




camera:      ARRI Alexa Mini
framerate:   25p
Apect ratio: 1 : 2.25
lenses:      Leica Summilux-C primes
LUT:         not LUT, log-C

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