Some Things I Really Love. Cars & Cinematography
(Family of course too, my wife would kill me if I didn’t disclaim that)
The Grand Tour is out and it is huge. The segments are short automotive action films. There are discrepancies with the budget of the show, with Netflix calling out Amazon for over $250 Million, and Jeremy Clarkson denying the number being that large.
“Amazon spent far less than Netflix would have you believe,” Clarkson said
Now I’m not sure what the budget was. Definitely over $150 million. Who knows if their numbers include marketing but I’d say all in you’re looking at $170-$200 million.
Regardless, it looks like a billion bucks when it comes to the cinematography. Gear-heads & Petrol-heads rejoice because you’re about to see some of the best motorsport imagery you’ll ever come across. I’d say that the main strength they play to is their creative use of color grading, and the fact the beauty shots of the cars are so expertly lit. The camera moves are an entirely different part of the equation, and they are getting extremely well composed shots while following exotic cars going around a track at 120mph+ and not making it look like sporting event coverage.
Cinematographer Ben Joiner & team worked on the Top Gear series but he is being even more aggressive now with the color grades, the experimental compositing, and the overall camera moves. I’m not 100% because I could only find this BTS footage, but it looks like they are shooting on Arri Amiras. A lot of the visual experience is the editing & camera moves themselves, which makes it difficult to just discuss stills, but let’s do it anyway.
I’d like to just take a moment to appreciate some of the shots just from the first two episodes. I inserted the main colors from the images in the lower right, I always find it interesting to take a look at that. Not any kind of in depth analysis but just things I noticed as I watched the episodes. And in no particular order;
1. Aston Martin Vulcan (S1E2)
Stunning shot. This Vulcan was lit and filmed by Casper Leaver. The whole image is what I’d describe as creamy. The gradients seem impossibly smooth, and the diffused reflections on the car carry the same attributes. Somehow the upper colors seem to melt into the red paint as you transition from top to center. The shot is framed in standard proportions but the combination of the colors and saturation of the dark red just make it delicious. If that doesn’t make the car look sexy, then you just don’t like motorsports.
2. McLaren P1 CG Cutaways (S1E1)
The combination of a live action plate and CG in this shot surprised. The camera moves around the car as you see different cross sections of the motor, suspension, and electric systems from multiple angles. On Top Gear it looked like they would intercut manufacturer footage when doing shots such as this, but I have a feeling with this budget that this was done in-house, as they are using footage shot in the same garage that the scene takes place in. It’s a real attention grabbing effect and serves the purpose of highlighting the technology that is packed into these million dollar hypercars.
3. Ferrari LaFerrari (S1E1)
This is a shot I love. Another lit and filmed by Casper Leaver. It’s filmed from the inside of a transport, with three main color hues. The LaFerrari is centered in frame with the reflection on the sides of the transport walls used as visual elements. At first I thought there were other cars in scene. The music and edit, along with the above striking visual, creates a very menacing atmosphere. It was intended to be akin to releasing the gate of a lion at a gladiatorial event.
4. Trailer Shot 1 (S1E1)
This is simple: Take a beautiful locale, shot in a way that shows it’s splendor. Looking like a scene out of Mad Max more than a weekly series about 3 buffoons who love cars, the blue & green hues of the ocean butted up against the browns of what could be seen as a barren desert provide contrast to a very nice still frame.
Those were my favorite standouts from the first two episodes. I can’t wait to watch more and see what other stunning locations they visit and what twist they put on a vehicle studio shoot.