Melbourne-based cinematographer Cesar Salmeron-Hoving steps things up with his latest work on Supercheap Auto’s ‘Best Performing Oils’ campaign – by Slade Phillips
Cinematographer Cesar Salmeron-Hoving and director David ‘Davros’ Wallin have worked together on a number of challenging projects and have developed a highly-collaborative workflow that has powered the engine for this year’s visual campaign for Supercheap Auto. What presented itself was a demanding script involving comedy; complex car chases across multiple locations, combined with practical stunts and all within the confines of a four-day shoot.
The story follows an unsuspecting hero with their foot firmly on the accelerator in a race to deliver a mysterious suitcase to its rightful owner. In pre-production it became clear that there were a lot more moving parts to this shoot than just your standard car commercial. The unpredictability of the weather could have a huge impact on how these high-powered vehicles would perform, whilst being pushed to their limits.
After going over each of the upcoming shooting days and trying to ensure maximum efficiency by planning each sequence, Salmeron-Hoving and Wallin still faced an extremely ambitious schedule. ‘Shooting the rehearsal’ was going to be part of the approach.
With a highly-fuelled shot list, on-set speed was crucial, thus influencing the decision to shoot with two separate ARRI Alexa kits. One paired with a Fujinon 18-80mm to live permanently on either a Porsche Cayenne equipped with an ultra-arm, a Polaris or camera boat custom rigged with a black arm all lead by key grip Nic Karam. The second kit was armed with a set of Angenieux EZ Zooms that could easily be set up for handheld, slider, gripshaw or any other improvised gripping configurations, as flexibility played a huge factor in this production with constant changing circumstances.
A separate set of Sigma Cinema Primes was added to maintain a sharp image but reduce the real estate of the camera in tight spaces, along with a Sony A7s when it became a squash and a squeeze. Jumping from one kit to another was extremely efficient and gave Salmeron-Hoving the opportunity to get through the shot list without having to wait for rig and de-rigging.
To create a new perspective, a Racing Drone Team lead by Chief Pilot Sketch Coleman was brought in to add a completely new viewing experience as well as manoeuvrability when covering scenes at high velocity.
“Because these drones were so nimble, it gave us the opportunity to put them in situations where standard drones wouldn’t fit or simply not able to keep up with the action,” says the cinematographer. “They are nearly indestructible thus upping the possibilities of what can be done in-camera.”
Apart from covering the daily schedule, an on-location studio was set up on the last day to shoot additional simulated travel pick-ups. Salmeron-Hoving communicated remotely via checking frame-grabs and giving lighting feedback to his gaffer, Teretiano Reti, in-between shooting daily set-ups.
A shoot of this pace and complexity presents many challenges requiring quick response and tactical improvisation under rapidly changing circumstances. Supercheap Auto’s ‘Best Performing Oils’ campaign meets these challenges at every turn, and just like the high-octane action finale depicted, Salmeron-Hoving ultimately delivers the goods winning Gold at the recent Victorian & Tasmanian State Awards for Cinematography.
Cesar Salmeron-Hoving was born in Amsterdam and schooled in Germany, and now works as a local cinematographer out of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.