May 27, 2021

ARRI SkyPanels light Subaru’s new in-house, multi-purpose studio

A renovated space at Subaru of America’s national headquarters has been transformed into a cutting-edge studio for in-house media production lit with SkyPanel S120-Cs.

May 27, 2021

At leading auto manufacturer Subaru of America’s national headquarters, a recently renovated space has been transformed into a cutting-edge studio for in-house media production. In addition to the garage’s existing features—a wide rollup door and three auto bays—the 50-foot by 30-foot studio now features a cyclorama, double-track curtain system, and state-of-the-art equipment, including several ARRI SkyPanel S120-C with SkyBender. 

How this functioning technical garage became a gleaming new production studio is a story that began when Subaru built its new headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. Subaru National Product Training Manager, Jim Riedel, was intrigued by one of the buildings left behind: a garage that had been used primarily for educational purposes. He decided to call Creative Design Group, Inc., one of Subaru’s strategic partner agencies, and asked its President/CEO, Gary Rivera, to have a look at the space. “It was clear right away that we could do a lot in there,” says Rivera. “We could convert it into a great studio pretty rapidly, with some advanced lighting, new electrical service, acoustic treatments, and a fresh coat of paint.” Riedel shopped the idea to other Subaru departments and his colleagues quickly embraced his vision. “In addition to being able to shoot their new vehicles in a secure space, they loved that their senior executives could also appear more easily in videos and live webcasts with minimal impact to their schedules,” says Rivera. 

To create the studio that Riedel envisioned, Rivera turned to Expressway Cinema—a long-time resource for grip and camera equipment services. 

Expressway Cinema General Manager, John Baumgartner, saw the challenges in turning the raw space into a functioning studio. “Part of the design was to make it easier for other [Subaru] vendors to get to work right away,” he says. “There were cabinets, drywall, and sheet metal ceilings, so we had to get control of the sound.” One of the first steps to achieve this was to create a curtain track around three walls of the facility. “That helped deaden the sound and made the space more flexible, especially for tight shots,” explains Baumgartner. Throughout the conversion, Expressway’s crews worked very closely with Riedel and Subaru’s facilities managers, electricians, and painters to make their shared vision come to life.

Baumgartner’s team also installed a 30-feet long, 12-feet high single cyclorama wall, lit by three ARRI SkyPanel S120-Cs with SkyBender. “I always include ARRI fixtures as much as I can,” he says. “ARRI is an excellent manufacturer to work with, and we really believe in their products. The SkyPanels are very versatile fixtures. We can easily have a lighted or colored backdrop with little or no effort.” 

Rivera adds that he was “already in love with ARRI gear” when he saw his gaffers using SkyPanels on rolling stands. “We could roll them in, dial up the right color temp, and roll the cameras really quickly,” he says. “The fact that they don’t generate heat is a really big deal when working up-close with your client’s cars, as you can imagine.”  

Since building the new studio, Rivera reports they’ve shot numerous product training videos for Subaru sales consultants and have recently began producing live streaming broadcasts for their 635 Subaru Retailers.  

Baumgartner concludes, “I think the studio has achieved what it was supposed to do. Having this redesigned space means a big reduction in the amount of equipment we have to truck in, which translates into cost savings and increased quality. Instead of shooting in an empty warehouse, production teams can walk in and have all the light they need.”  

According to Rivera, “Subaru has been pleased with the versatility the space now offers, which was the most important thing to me.” And having a new Subaru Studio helps Rivera’s agency achieve its end game—putting their client’s vehicles in the best possible light. He concludes: “Our job is to make our clients’ lives easier and amplify their brand messaging, while never forgetting that the ‘Car is the Star.’ It’s important that we light every Subaru like a diamond in a jewel box.”

Expressway Cine:

Creative Design Group:

Photos: Creative Design Group