Car Reel Special

Piet Hohl, VFX Supervisor at PXO Frankfurt flashes his “win-you-over-in-a-second” smile, as he is asked if he can remember his first Job with Pixomondo.

As part of the Pixomondo team since 2005, he witnessed the beginning of the now worldwide studio network. He has participated in a great number of VFX Shows, commercial and industry films, with a predominant focus on car related visual effects.

His credits include clients such as Porsche, Audi, Chevrolet and Mercedes as well as feature films like the Fast and Furious franchise. An enthusiastic climber and kite surfer in his private life, he has been optimistically riding the waves of the great changes that have affected the VFX industry. “If you are doing visual effects, no day is the same – just as every job is different. And you have the pleasure of meeting and working with a lot of inspiring and unique people. In addition to this, the technical development has been amazing and unbelievably fast. A couple of years ago you could not even have imagined what we´re able to do now. It would not have been possible technically or just too complicated and expensive to do it.”

Piet remembers how time consuming creating a photorealistic 3D engine used to be, including enormous render times and software bugs. Today, shooting with Stand-In-Cars and replacing them with the latest, highly confidential models is standard. Even full CG spots are an option if needed, as well as the so-called “facelifts” for slight model changes.

Piet, known as a true team player, feels that listening and understanding are key components. He has the talent of building the perfect team for each job, targeting the skill set of each artist to ensure that everyone is able to utilize his or her talent and creativity.

He understands that knowing his clients and their stories is crucial to being able to choose the best approach. Piet strongly believes that no car is alike and each one has its own character and unique story to be told.

There is a lot of talk about effectiveness, which, given the shrinking budgets everywhere is a point of consideration. “A lot of discussions floating around at the moment are about effectiveness and quantity of produced content. These absolutely are important topics. Balancing the artistic and the financial concerns in the creative business has always been a difficult struggle. And naturally these are discussions that are easily understood by our clients.

“Transparence” – that is the second key word for Piet; it is the “tool” that helps him balance creativity and business. After the initial meetings for each project the team recommends a certain approach. This includes the given budget, timeframe and further project requirements as well as for the desired look and feel and the overall story that we want to tell.

“It is great when we are able to be part of the creation from the very beginning, with concepts, storyboards and Previz.” Being involved in the early stages of a project allows Piet to discuss and explain what is easy to do and where a lot of money needs to be spent. Making these production approaches and costs transparent from the start helps to ensure that money is spent more effectively.

But the “rock ‘n roll”- projects as he calls them – fast shoots that require all the experience and improvisation he can offer, are fun as well. With time frames that are typically much shorter, communication and transparency is extremely important, all the while never losing sight of the story that needs to be told.