Michael Muller Brings Virtual Reality to Aston Martin
Photographer Michael Muller has a unique talent for combining his passions and creating art that moves. A frequent photographer to the superheroes, Michael is known throughout Hollywood for his adventure-based shoots. Whether he’s capturing Captain Marvel take flight, setting Tom Holland on fire, or diving deep to the depths of the ocean, Michael will stop at nothing to get the shot. In his ongoing partnership with Aston Martin, Michael took his love of cars and teamed up with Aston Martin’s Design Director Marek Reichman to produce stills, motion, and VR for the elite brand.
“A year and a half ago I started working with Marek and shooting at factories with Eric Reichman and Tom Brady. I showed Reichman the VR that I made and he was blown away. He started talking with the company about making VR and that was the beginning. It was a lot of talking. I basically got three of their cars and started this project. My vision was to film the ocean and then the desert and then downtown and shoot all three mediums. The project grew to about 48 people coming out to the desert. We had 3 stunt drivers, using Shotovers with a technocrane. Two camera cars, two drone teams and I had to choreograph all three films being shot at once: stills, VR, and motion. I had complete creative freedom so we only had one person from the company there, which allowed me to move really quickly. The pace is what allowed me to get all three shoots accomplished in one day.”
The idea of incorporating VR into advertising campaigns was born from one of Michael’s first passions, the ocean. “I've been doing my shark project for 15 years and my goal is to change people’s perspectives of sharks, as well as to raise awareness of what’s happening in our ocean. With photography, it’s challenging because you only see one moment. You don’t see the large scale of what’s down there. I reached a point where I was going to stop my shark project and move on. In that moment, I knew that VR is the future. I had never put a headset on at that point. I just realized that I can take you with me underwater with the VR and you can actually see a 360 view, so you can dive with me. That’s what I’ve been wanting to show people the past 15 years,” explained Michael. “What we did with Aston Martin is give people the opportunity to experience what it’s like to drive the car. When you have hands on the steering wheel, the camera is where your head would be. The only way to capture that was with CGI so you either CGI the car or the outside background. It’s just like a video game. We were able to get that perspective, the driver’s POV, in camera. It's a game changer.”
Michael sees this technology as a turning point for not only the automotive industry but commerce as a whole. “It’s really cool, your phone just turns into a headset. So you can turn your phone around 360, point it anywhere and you can see any part of the commercial. It’s not as immersive as a headset, it’s another tool. It’s a really powerful medium that hasn’t even been tapped yet. It’s fun to be on the forefront blazing the trails. As an innovator, you gotta make stuff yourself and figure it out as you go, there’s no path no one has come before us,” explains Michael. “You’ll be shopping in your headsets soon; you’ll get on a plane and half the people will be in headsets.”