Can CGI Look Better than Real Life?

This is how we created the latest visual for Huber Engineered Woods' "Zip It Up" advertising campaign. Back in December 2012 Sean went to Washington, DC to shoot a major project being built using Huber's Zip products.  A Walmart Supercenter was being built 7 blocks from the Capitol Building, which, of course, created a huge outcry.  To appease the neighborhood/city, Walmart had to disguise the shopping center in an urban development with certain architectural features that included a parking deck and condominiums atop.  After we photographed the project for various marketing needs, Huber decided they also wanted the Sean Busher Imagery team to use the project for their Zip It Up ad campaign.

Here is one of the original photos Sean took of the site under construction:

Charlotte photographers sean busher architecture photography

Here is the comp that was provided to us at the beginning of this project:

3d artist photography

Peter Godshall, our team's Digital Imager (CGI Artist and retoucher), started blocking in the basic shapes and then adding layer upon layer of detail.

3d animation for architecture

Here are two views from within Peter's Cinema 4D software:

Once we added the CGI cars, better texturing in the cement and other materials, stormier clouds, changes to the window installations, plus other bits of detail we provided this to the client for review:

commercial photographer charlotte nc

But the client decided they wanted to see the scene go dark and stormy to further accent the all-weather capabilities of the product.  So we added the clouds, changed the lighting and added the streetlights to help with the foggy atmosphere:

Most of the atmospheric effects were created via the 3D software, including the volumetric lights for the fog and the air particulates.  However, the rain, water drops, extra reflections, and global toning were all done in Photoshop.   Here is the base render and the same image after the toning, rain and water drops were added:

Here is the final image:

Here is the final print advertisement: