How Commercial Photographer Geoff Ang Shot This Razer Campaign

How Commercial Photographer Geoff Ang Shot This Razer Campaign

Commercial photographer Geoff Ang was approached by one of the top CGI companies in Singapore “CUM Creative” to create an entire series of images for Razer’s newest line of gaming headphones.

It was an exciting brief with very clear instructions from the creatives on the type of weapons and poses needed. His job was to realize those actions and poses and make it work with the CGI elements that will happen later in post.

He created a lighting style that looks cinematic and works well against a dark background, and also created custom rigs with small flashes on them to motivate the light that would eventually come from the CGI elements, as he needed that intimacy of the light to react on them for that realism! The studio itself was a fairly tight space but as it was an etched out shoot, the background did not matter too much and he was able to make it work.

Equipment List 

  • x2 Profoto D2
  • x2 Profoto B1X
  • x2 Profoto A1
  • Black/White Boards
  • 5" Profoto Octa Softbox
  • x2 Profoto Softbox 3x3

Lighting Setup

The whole setup was lit with Profoto lights. He had two B1X on left in a clamshell for a soft edge light, one D2 with a 5 Octa on the right for edge light and one D2 on a standard reflector bounced into a low ceiling to act as a large softbox for hair light. Additionally to those lights, he also used two A1s with coloured gels on various contraptions to help motivate the light coming from the weapons. Lastly, he added a couple of positive and negative bounce boards used to create contrast and fill.

When Ang first received the brief and visuals, he started to plan his lighting and create the mock weapons. He needed light sources that were versatile enough to allow him to position them in a way that portrayed the glow of the weapons realistically. This was imperative in order to give the CGI artist enough information to work on the final image.

According to Ang said, "The Profoto A1 was crucial in allowing me to place them in the hands of the talents. It’s small size, the quality of light from it's small form factor and it's ability to work seamlessly with the bigger Profoto heads just made it so effortless for me!". As Ang works entirely in the Profoto eco-system, he was able to work from the smallest heads (A1) to the biggest flash heads (Pro10 with Proheads) seamlessly and with the same quality of light and temperature which made his work as a photographer that much easier.

All the lights were used on the freeze mode and fast recycle to ensure sharpness with all the fast motion the talents had to do and the high burst rate Ang shot with. He shot a variety of images with different models and poses and depending on where the character's facing, lights were dimmed and powered up to be main or fill sources. The images were also done on a neutral grey background to allow for easy etching and also to allow for some light bounce back to the talents.

All in all, Ang was able to use the tight space to his advantage, using the surrounding ceiling and walls as soft bounce to wrap around the talents in a more intimate way. He mentions that it was only possible due to the sutdio only having white or grey walls, therefore not needing to worry about any colour cast. With negative fill positioning, he was able to create a fantastic base image for the CGI artist to take it further.

Closing

Creative Agency and CGI: CUM Creative
Creative Director: Tan Wen Hao
Photographer: Geoff Ang

Images used with permission of Geoff Ang

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45 Comments

William Faucher's picture

Hah! Thats a clever use of strobes, I like it!

Shavonne Wong's picture

I thought so too! Loved the rigs haha.

davidlovephotog's picture

I like the idea of having them hold the strobes but making this about profoto is overkill. This could be done with a few cheap speedlights and some Photoshop work easily. Any time this is all someone wants I smile cause I know I can shoot and finish it fast and still have time for video games that day.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Again, listing the equipment, that incidentally is Profoto..Not needed, neither the list or the use of Profoto.

Very nice article.

I guess he get supported by Profoto so it's fine if he pushes it.

Shavonne Wong's picture

Most photoshoots can be done similarly with cheaper versions of equipment.
But no reason not to use professional available equipment on a professional client shoot.

davidlovephotog's picture

Profoto is mentioned throughout so for people learning it might give the impression that thousands of dollars is needed to do something like this which is never the case.

super steel_'s picture

an ad dressed up as a review

the editing here is extreme. its not a "finish" fast at all.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

It's a commercial shoot for *GAMING* headphones, i.e. the target audience is gamers. If they were given a 60s style Christmas-sweater look or men with an 80s style mullet and jeans on a purple backdrop, they won't buy the product, because ads don't resonate with their virtual worlds.

super steel_'s picture

your comment makes no sense. its nothing to do with my comment

William Faucher's picture

He just means that it is intentionally done in a way that is extreme. It suits the target audience of the end product. It's not intended to be fine art catering to people with refined tastes.

super steel_'s picture

ah ok, I see.

but it is a profoto ad dressed to look like a review. I need to be smarter not to click on these in the future.

I learned nothing from this post except how many profoto equipment one should buy for this

Shavonne Wong's picture

Was it an ad? I wish someone told me so I could get paid for it hah!

Honestly, if that's all you learnt.... that's kinda sad.
Personally, I found the way the lights were used to be creative and interesting. It's something I'm glad to be able to put into my toolbox of ideas.

super steel_'s picture

kinda sad for you that you were sharp to see it

Mark Richardson's picture

Personally I found it very interesting how the lights were setup and used. Who cares what brand of lights they used? Didn't find this to be an ad at all. I'd love to see more of this type of content on Fstoppers.

Shavonne Wong's picture

Hehe okay only because you said so...
I have a bunch of other photographers and their BTS to some really awesome images lined up for future articles! :D

William Faucher's picture

I am really excited to see more of these BTS stuff you have lined up, Shavonne! Keep 'em coming!

Shavonne Wong's picture

Glad you're excited hehe, and I will! 😊

super steel_'s picture

sweet. happy you liked it. doesnt negate what my opinion is about it though.

Daniel Hobebila's picture

And ... you really think that this pictures will make them buy stuff ... ?
Looks like you overestimate something ...

Alexander Petrenko's picture

If client pays for the rental - why not?

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

It's a BTS of a commerial project, after all. It is not a tutorial "how to achieve a similar effect with budget lighting." Once the principle is grasped, one can do that with any lights and creativity. Look for the principle, not at the gear.

davidlovephotog's picture

Profoto was mentioned throughout the article which was the only thing that threw me off about it. And the fact that if you took out the CGI added in post, it's a simple look. I used to think commercial photographers and movie promotions were done by just a photographer and I was impressed. Then I learned that they take a picture designed by committee and then hand it off for stock art and Photoshop to be added by an art house. Then I was less impressed.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Sometimes I do photographs and videos with CG and the reason for using CG is when it's cheaper to do it in 3D or 2D than building an actual set. Sometimes it's cheaper to make a real set, of course. Other times there's enough budget to build a set so that it is real for real's sake. As long as the final goal is met and it looks real enough (depends on what level of reality is aimed for), it's fine.

davidlovephotog's picture

Oh I don't have a problem with post work. Most of my work is a composition.

William Faucher's picture

But let's say you already own a bunch of profoto stuff from previous shoots, why wouldn't you use it? Anyone who has shot in studio is smart enough to understand you can do this with cheaper lighting setups.

davidlovephotog's picture

People use what they use. I could give a tutorial announcing I used 4 strobes with a stripbox, octabox, flags, etc without waving the expensive equipment in your face. So what am I to be impressed with here? The concept he was told to do, the expensive equipment used or the post work done by someone else? And most clients I have don't know if my gear was cheap or expensive. They've seen my work and heard my idea and I got the job.

A beginner would look at this and see:

Equipment List
x2 Profoto D2
x2 Profoto B1X
x2 Profoto A1
Black/White Boards
5" Profoto Octa Softbox
x2 Profoto Softbox 3x3

As I did when I first started in photography and then they might assume they will never be pro without spending a fortune for a light that blinks in the direction you point it. Did Rembrandt have a more expensive window to light his subjects for paintings? Nope. It's the painter to admire, not the window.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Keep in mind Rembrandt was a wise painter, not a dumb machine that simply copies what's in front of it, like the camera. A painter would not have a problem if the subject is lit by a window on a gloomy day or diffused with a curtain on a sunny day. They can do what they want. Do you think in the painting "The Night Watch" there were 10+ people staying still in the position you see for 6 hours with the sun sitting still to wait him at least sketch the subjects and roughly the highlights and shadows? Painters are so much different than photographers. They have more tools at their disposal and unlimited "lights" of highest quality and color temperature.

davidlovephotog's picture

So if it's about the lighting and concept then...

Equipment List:
3 strobes
Black/White Boards
5" Octa Softbox
Softbox 3x3

would work better in the article.

Shavonne Wong's picture

If it's the painter to admire, not the window, why are talking about the prices of his window then?

davidlovephotog's picture

Everyone knows the high cost of profoto equipment. Would be like me doing a driving tutorial but only mentioning the Lamborghini as the car I use.

Shavonne Wong's picture

If you don't mention anything that can ONLY be done with a Lamborghini, I would just learn what I can from your tutorial and apply it to my... Toyota.
I mean, you can't expect every tutorial out there to only cater to your specific needs and gear.

Fritz Asuro's picture

Though cheaper lighting equipment have gone better. Using reliable professional equipment is a must for high paying clients. And you can always rent Profoto equipment for such shoots. You don't need to own a lot of it.

super steel_'s picture

from the amount of pros using them and the better price, godox seems a better choice all around.

Shavonne Wong's picture

Maybe, but surely people are allowed to choose whatever equipment they want to use yes? If they can afford Profoto, great. If they want to use Godox, go ahead! It's the end result that counts. Clearly Geoff knows how to use his equipment well.

Wen Hao Tan's picture

Hi Dave, my name is Wenhao. I am from the creative agency & led the creative as well as the CGI/ Retouch team on this project. I personally have a background in photography as well, but no where close to the talent pool here but I've seen all kinds of light qualities.

I feel that photographers deal with challenges with the tools they have.

When I got on set and saw what Geoff did, I was really impressed, sure, they are expensive but it did have things go real smooth, the models just grabbed their "weapon" and did their jumps. The lights were easily adjusted and super reliable.

I think having good tools just means that everyone on set gets to focus on the art instead of the technicality which gives our client a better product cause we got to focus on the craft.

Given that this is a campaign, these images would be cropped and used on billboards after copy is added. I myself can't afford Profotos but having been part of the team dealing with the images, I can honestly say, those strobes do make a difference when your image is 8k. I've never seen a strobe cast such beautiful light, the fall off & distribution was really nice and you don't get those harsh fall-offs and hot spots.

Again - yes, you can use cheaper lights and probably use a bunch of diffusers and what not, but you know how it is right - You end up spending the night before taping shit onto them and testing and when the models jump, sometimes shit falls off and you've got enough to worry on set as it is.

To be staring at like 10 billion things instead of just shooting whilst managing a client is hard, I've tried.

Ultimately, the strobe's qualities all came through and allowed Geoff to focus on the art which is great! I hate it when people tell me "Don't worry! we can fix it in post!" and we got more images to chose from to perfect the job.

davidlovephotog's picture

I think it depends more on how someone is using the light than the brand of lighting. And anything effect driven or composited is going to be worked over anyway. I do everything on my images so maybe it's different if you're just taking a pic and handing it off for the harder stuff to be added. I use Alien bees and have never looked at my own work and thought it could be better if I spent thousands more for lighting. I think people just assume if you use Profoto, you must be pro and that illusion can dishearten a lot of new photographers that don't have a big budget for equipment.

Noah Stephens's picture

David, when people pay you lots of money to take photos, you use some of that money to buy or rent reliable equipment. That is the responsible, professional thing to do.

davidlovephotog's picture

My point is I don't see profoto lighting there. It's just light. Light that will get adjusted in post.

Mike O'Leary's picture

Love the whole concept and the finished products are great. Interesting way of using the strobes. Thanks for sharing, Shavonne.

Shavonne Wong's picture

Thank Geoff, I just posted what he was willing to share hahaha. I learnt plently too (:

Felix Wu's picture

With this amount of post I think any normal photos will look cool. Would be good to post the before and after shots as well to showcase how much was the flash and how much was digital work.

Shavonne Wong's picture

There's a limit to how much post can do. And even then, I believe as photographers that it's our job to provide as good as base to start with as possible. Could the colored glow be added in in post? Maybe. But it just looks great and realistic to have it already done in camera.

As for before and after shots... Sure it'll be cool to see them. But all of the above information are provided freely by a professional photographer on a client shoot out of good will. I'm just glad Geoff was willing to share.

Wen Hao Tan's picture

Hi Felix, my name is Wenhao. I am from the creative agency & led the creative as well as the CGI/ Retouch team on this project. Just thought I should chime in since my team worked on the raw files throughout the project.

Thanks for sorta saying the post made it look cool. haha, we did sweat a lot working on it.

But I must say, these are campaign images designed to be cropped and used in various applications (billboards, posters, websites, social, buses etc. etc.) for our client and are all delivered in 8K.

We feel that when working on images to be posted online at perhaps 2k res, heavy post can be slightly more forgiving cause we can down res at the very end which is what you are seeing online at the moment, but we really do need an extremely good base image cause we spend a lot of effort to retain as much as possible as post work at 8k when you walk up to it can be quite obvious if extra care isn't paid.

I really would love that if we were to share the before and after, we should share an extreme close up crop to show the before and after, because when you see a before and after of an 8k image, scaled down to 1,000 pixels, you miss out on how important the "base" is for us. The work/ effort is really all in the details so these images can withstand being massive and someone could walk up to it and not see edging issues for example.

Its kinda like when we shoot ads too, though we have an experienced comp & CGI team, we remind ourselves to respect the footage and fight to keep as much of the "true" pixels as we can, we believe the quality can be felt through this culture.

majid gharamohamadi's picture

backgrounds are poor. it's like to halo.

majid gharamohamadi's picture

backgrounds are poor. it's like to halo.