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How CGI can save you time in the long run

Paul McSweeney 20 March 2019

CGI vs photography is still a fierce debate. One side argues that nothing can replace the way real-life photography captures tangible objects. The other claims that CG looks better than the real thing and photography can’t match its perfection.

Both sides have their merits. There was a time when the debate was digital photography vs traditional photography – similarly, they both had a point, but it was digital that stood out as the best solution. It’s history repeating itself, and, like digital photography, CGI can’t be matched. It can save you a lot of time.


Lights, camera, action

We’re not suggesting photography goes the way of the dinosaur, nor are we saying that rendering CGI happens in the blink of an eye. But, in the long-term, CG will save you time and money. Take the simplest scenario: photographing a car. Just the car, a white background, and a DSLR. Hours are spent getting the perfect lighting, multiple shots, different angles. And, at the end of the day, you have your shots. Job done. For CG, modelling alone would take longer.

But, say you get back to your desk, you look over the photos from the shoot. You can’t find the right angle or the trim level of spec of the car needs to be different. You need the car – which you have poured your passion into – to look perfect. Yet now you face the laborious process of rescheduling the shoot and setting everything up again, and, at the end of that, you’re still not guaranteed to be satisfied with the end product. Roads need reclosing, the weather might be awful, you might not be able to get your hands on the car; the list of potential roadblocks is extensive.

With CG, if you want to see it from a specific angle, you just move the car or the virtual camera.


The quick approach

Now imagine that scenario, but multiple times over. If the car comes in many colours, trim, and spec levels for example. That’s where else CGI saves you time. you won’t have the time to photograph every possible combination – in fact, it’s impossible. With CGI, these changes can be made instantly. So while the initial creation might take time, it will save you time in the long run.

The same problem presents itself when shooting on location, but includes the added hassle of making sure the product and appropriate people are in the right place. But combine the two scenarios and you have your solution.

Film on location to create your backgrounds and insert the key visuals later on. It allows you to keep a flexible schedule. If the car’s design isn’t ready in time for the shoot, it can be sculpted digitally and change as the real-life car does. The time between conversations is shorter as CGI can react much faster to alterations.

Photography will always have its place in the world. But much like in film and TV, there are times where CGI makes more sense, and the automotive industry is no different. So if you’re worried about time not being on your side, put your mind at ease. Choose the computer.


At REALTIME, we have the experience you need to make your next project run fluidly. Take our work with Infiniti, which is an example of what we talked about above. It’s just one of the many projects we’ve brought to life using CGI. If you’re interested in potentially working together, get in touch with me at [email protected].