Excerpt from the interview with Camera Obscura: http://cameraobscura.busdraghi.net/2010/patrick-rochon/
While I was in Japan (1997-2008), I was introduced by photographer New York photographer Mark Higashino (http://www.mhpi.com/) to Itaru Sugita an art director and graphic designer. In 1998 I was passing by Itaru’s office in Tokyo to say hi, he was working on a presentation for Toyota Altezza, the new car back then. While I was looking at him working on it, I said; “Why don’t you Light Paint it?” as a joke of course, never in my mind did I think it was possible. So far all I had under my belt as a Light Painter, was portraits and a few full bodies. Also back then I only Light Painted on the subject and never did Light Painting in empty space by pointing the lights towards the camera around a subject. So after listening to my idea, of Light Painting the car, Itaru went into a deep and long silence and then said; “It’s a good idea!” I was like euuu,, mmm,, OK!? Well me being spontaneously naive again, did get me the biggest project I did so far. We started by to Light Painting a miniature toy car with aluminum foil in the background to present the concept to Toyota.
Miniature car – scaled model:
They liked it and proposed to do a test on a real car. Then I got really scared, they invested serious money on this and I didn’t know if I could do this, if it was even possible. After a while, we did a test in studio with a different car then the Altezza, all with 4×5 format cameras, shooting with 4 or 5 different cameras, one being Polaroid film. I use to cross-process my films one came out good enough and Toyota approved our test and gave the OK to go to the next step. Then we did a second test with the real car (it was top secret then back then), and that is when I really learned how to Light Paint a car. The team was giving me key feedback on my Light Painting and on the reflections it did on the car. It was important to understand and respect the shape and design of it. I think we shot for 2 days in studio. We did slick and clean work. The Light was simple and strong. When it was presented to Toyota they said it was good lighting but now for the next one, they wanted my ART. They wanted me to push it to an other level. I said to myself they want it, they’re going to get it. I got all pumped up for the last shooting. I was ready to expose with light.
On the day of the shoot, I danced intensely, music blasting, and light painted on and around the car like there is no tomorrow. We did about 15 hours of Light Painting a day, 3 days in a row. Some camera exposure took up to 30 minutes long nonstop in one take. It was like magic. We got spectacular results. Later we ended up doing an exhibition at Spiral Hall in Tokyo, we had post card books, posters in the subways, magazine pages. Eventually we even did a promotion video shoot with Light Painting directed by Keiichiro Mukai. (Now on Vimeo the full 10 minutes version: http://vimeo.com/23238738). This Toyota experience was a peak in my career, coming out of the underground creative scene of New York city to the light of Tokyo. Something new came to be done. Honestly, the success of this project was planing. Itaru, the art director knew that it was the first time this was ever done and he had to plan wisely. A new road, a new process, enough time and space to make it happen the right way.
It took over a year for the whole project to happen. I had to wait 6 months for the original approval, the go ahead, the first yes and in between each shoot an other few month for each step.The process was perfect and that gave birth to a beautiful result. That leap completely change me as a Light Painter, now I’m thinking it’s a good thing I’m naive sometimes.