As promised in the initial post about the Red Bull Morphing project, I wanted to give a more thorough view of what it took to produce this image. From initial preparation to post-production, here’s the detail below in 8 steps of all the thinking and stamina we put into the process:
- Choosing the discipline and location: As I was travelling to India for a personal shoot the months before the shoot (more on that coming soon…), we chose an urban environment for its ease of access. Trial bike was an obvious choice for the urban tone it could bring, while having the potential for some spectacular tricks. Award-winning trial biker Petr Kraus, from Czech Republic, would be our first champion.
- Creative meeting in Salzburg, Austria: coming back from India and straight out of the plane, I flew to Munich + drove to Salzburg for a one-day trip to meet the Red Bull Media House team over a preparatory creative meeting (or Pre Production Meeting); it was an awesome afternoon of firing ideas, talking with the video crew that would be with us to shoot the behind-the-scenes video, and fine-tuning the intentions and details of the shoot: date, locations, transportation, etc.
- Scouting: we went through the usual scouting with the team at the Red Bull Media House. I was looking for a grandiose urban panorama, while at the same time accommodating for some tricks and interesting moves for Petr. We chose a very scenic Frankfurt rooftop, for a good reason: the skyline in that city is super impressive. It reminds me of New York, but it is much closer!
- Packing up and gear: as for all my action pictures, I work exclusively with Broncolor flash packs for their incredibly fast recycling time and most of all, flash duration control. I had set up a gear list including 4 of the brand new Scoro 3200S, a few continuous light HMIs (a prerequisite for this type of photographs), and quite a few modifiers and pieces of gear. My team and me set off to Frankfurt by plane with cameras and the Red Bull photo editor and team were to join us from Salzburg with the gear that Broncolor had specifically prepared for us and shipped from Switzerland. Quite some logistics!
- On-location final preparation: Upon arrival, we went scouting the shoot location, in order to take in the atmosphere, see the rooftop with our own eyes, and assess the actual sunset time.
- Shoot day: on the shoot day, after collecting the last pieces of equipment needed, we headed to the rooftop and started setting up our gear. It was quite windy, and the owner actually decided not to let us use any of the equipment available there for Petr to perform his tricks. We started off by capturing the different elements that would compose the background plate, which included:
- The floor, lit in a consistent light with the one we would later use on Petr
- The skyline, at sunset so that we would have all the nice hues and tone come out in the sky and on the buildings
- Shoot night: (yes we extended shooting time through the night!) after capturing the elements of the background plate, we moved locations and continued shooting the action on the rooftop of our hotel, where the elements of the decor would be perfect for Petr to jump onto. It also had the advantage of being much more sheltered from the wind, which avoided my assistants being hung onto the softboxes so they don’t get blown away by the gusts of wind! After a few additional hours of great jumps and tricks of Petr and some sweet images captured, we were good to break the set down and head to sleep! It was an intense 10hrs of shoot, but it was worth it!
- Post-production: back in Paris, it was time to do the post on the image. Having started with a selection of our best shots, my retouching studio then got to work and produced the final image in a few days of intense work. When this image is heavy on the post-production, it is definitely worth it, to bring out the hues in the trails and integrate seamlessly the athlete in his background environment.
I hope you enjoy the result and that many more will follow! Feel free to comment away below, looking forward to your feedback!