How to make a YouTube car video: by Benjamin Ortega
Professional tips on how you can film cars
Close-up of man with camera and mic attachment
From equipment to editing, learn how to make your car videos stand out with help from a top car film-maker and vlogger
Benjamin Ortega is a France-based film-maker, photographer and creative director whose energetic, engaging car vlogs have gained him hundreds of thousands of fans (over 200,000 on YouTube and 300,000 on Instagram, as of February 2024). Recently, he revealed a special film made with Porsche, featuring kitesurfer and Porsche athlete Liam Whaley and a Taycan 4 Cross Turismo to celebrate the launch of a limited-edition Porsche x Duotone ‘Pink Pig‘ kite and board. So, who better to offer tips and guidance on how you can make the most of your car videos?1 You don’t need expensive equipment to film car videos“When it comes to equipment, camera-wise it doesn’t really matter, to be honest. The first shoot I ever did for Porsche was shot 90 per cent on my iPhone because they wanted something very natural and realistic. If you have very expensive equipment, you almost have to make very cinematic, super slick content – but sometimes people don’t relate to that so much. One thing I do recommend for a camera is an ND [neutral density] filter, which helps control the amount of light coming into your camera. It’s really useful when you are shooting a car that’s in motion.“You might also invest in a GoPro, which when attached to your car can be used for close-ups, allowing you to get the perfect angle to film the wheels or maintain steady shots of the car when driving. And of course, many people are now using FPV [first-person view] drones. They give you a really cool and fresh perspective.”
Man stands next to red Porsche Taycan in sand dunes
If you want your car video to stand out, try and choose a colour that contrasts with the environment around it | PHOTO: Oskar Bakke
2 Make a storyboard and devise a good storyline before filming your car video“For me, it’s very important to plan out a film with a storyboard. Spend time developing a creative concept beforehand and it will make it much easier to stand out afterwards. If you haven’t prepared properly, you probably aren’t going to push things as much. It doesn’t have to be totally precise. Just a rough idea will do as sometimes things can turn out differently to what you were expecting due to the location itself, the capability of the driver and even the weather. Always keep a space open to allow yourself to be free, for those last-minute ideas that pop up in your head.”3 Choose your car colour wisely“I’m a huge fan of black cars. I would probably only ever buy black cars for myself, but they are the worst to shoot as they are the ones that get most dirty and the colour doesn’t ‘pop’ off them. For me, the best car colours for filming are those that really pop but are not too bright. When I am shooting a car, I’d rather go for one that has a colour that I’m personally really stoked about.
Man running through long grass with camera equipment
You don’t need expensive equipment to start making car videos, says film-maker Benjamin Ortega – but dedication to getting the best shots is non-negotiable
“On the Porsche Pink Pig video shoot we had that super nice pink Taycan 4 Cross Turismo. That was a perfect colour and really stood out among the flat colours of the sand dunes in Tarifa, Spain. So, what you’re looking for is a colour that really contrasts with the environment you are filming in.”4 Use people in car videos to make them more relatable“If you really want to make a connection with your car videos, I think it’s important to bring personality into them. Yes, going straight into the action, seeing the car drive like crazy and drifting, will look epic. But perhaps you might start by seeing someone walking to the car for the first few seconds before getting into it. Then people know that there’s a real human being driving. It makes it really relatable and people will connect with it more.”5 Forge your own car film-making style and look everywhere for inspiration“When I first started making films I made about 400 in three years as I had such an intense schedule. I barely had time to get inspiration from other people’s work. It’s good to get inspiration from others – that’s often from movies or music videos, for me – but make sure you add your own touch to everything you film. It will make your work stand out more and, if you are looking to make filming cars your career, hopefully get you more jobs. Creating your own style isn’t just about how you film something, it also comes from things like how you edit films or your musical choice.
“When I made the Porsche x Duotone Pink Pig kitesurfing film, people told me that they knew it was by me because it had a ‘Benni’ style. For me, that’s perfect to hear. It means that I succeeded.”6 The importance of location when making a car film“In some ways, the roads or the location shouldn’t really matter – I think it’s more about the story you’re trying to tell throughout the film. But the perfect location for your filming can be dependent on the type of car itself or even its colour. I love the roads in the US. They always look so epic with those double yellow lines down the middle. You see them and I instantly think of the Hollywood movies that I watched as a kid with those STOP signs and traffic lights that people associate with America.
Man holding camera, people, cars and sand dunes behind him
Life’s a beach: Benjamin, and camera, at the Porsche x Duotone Pink Pig kitesurfing shoot in Tarifa, Spain in 2023
“Local knowledge is really helpful – not knowing the area you are filming in does make things trickier. But that’s where Google Maps comes in. Use it to scout places and check out the roads in advance. You also have to think about the traffic. You don’t want somewhere too crowded, so you might need to think about the time of day you film.”7 Learn how to get the light right“Making car films should be fun, but if you want to be serious about it, it requires a lot of dedication. Often, I may have a shoot quite a long way away and need to be up way earlier than sunrise. The time of day is important. The light will hit the car differently depending on the time you film it. There’s an app that my fellow film-maker and friend, Oskar Bakke, introduced to me which has AR capability that uses the camera on your phone to see exactly where the sunlight is going to be – from sunrise to sunset. And the cool thing is that you can also place yourself directly in a location with it in Google Streetview. It’s great if you are filming in the city, when you need to know where the sun is going to pop out between buildings.”
Man stands up on motorbike wearing camera bags on beach
Benjamin’s enthusiasm and dedication to his craft and the cars he shoots has made him a hugely popular automotive vlogger
8 Creating a feeling of action and movement – even when filming static cars“I rarely want to shoot static car shots when making a film. I want mine to be really active with lots of action. But one thing you can do with a static car when filming it is to use a slow shutter. I’m trying not to get too technical here, but I might shake my camera a little when filming with a slow shutter speed. It can make the car look like it’s in motion and kind of blurry – that there’s action going on even when there isn’t.”9 Don’t underestimate the editing process“When I first started making films, I would always use the craziest angles, cutting from one clip to another one without really understanding what was going on. Then I started to slow down a bit and put effort into making nicer clips of the cars. It’s easier to use a lot of motion and clips that overlap, but you don’t let the audience understand what’s going on then. It’s often what people do when they don’t really have a story to tell or an actual idea of what they really want to explain in their video.“On the Pink Pig film for Porsche I did lots of motion, but if you stop each frame you will see an evolution throughout the whole video that actually tells a story within 30 seconds. So, I had to put a lot of motion into it, and a lot of different clips. But other times, a really good-looking slow clip – one that is on screen for a long time – will always beat five epic clips edited all together.
Man wearing wetsuit shoots victory sign on beach
Benjamin’s enthusiasm and dedication to his craft and the cars he shoots has made him a hugely popular automotive vlogger
“Editing your film right after you’ve shot it is a super important part of the process. It’s not always possible for me if I’m going straight from making one film to another, but doing it is as soon as you can after shooting something really is the best time to do it. When it’s still fresh in your brain it’s easier to remember all the different shots you’ve created. However, if inspiration doesn’t come when you are editing a film, it’s good to just stop, wait a few hours – or a day – and then get back to it.”
10 Use music in your car video that suits you“If you are using music, it’s important to be flexible. For example, with the Pink Pig shoot (watch Benjamin’s YouTube VLOG above), the first music I picked was classical because I really felt it fitted our idea of the Taycan dancing, like a ballet, with Liam the kitesurfer. Maybe the music I chose wasn’t good enough, but after a while I just couldn’t click with it and it was taking me some time to finish the project. Maybe it was because it wasn’t music that I’d normally listen to myself.“So, I changed it to something modern, electronic and intense. It was much more my style and straight away it resonated with me. And I thought, if people like me, then they will like the music as well. Choose music that you like for your film and you’ll end up putting more energy into it. For every aspect when making a car film, the story will be so much nicer if it’s something that you’ve created with your entire heart – that you’ve put your soul into.”
Consumption and emission information Taycan 4 Cross Turismo (WLTP): Electric energy consumption combined: 22,0 - 18,7 kWh/100 km; CO₂ emissions combined: 0 g/km; CO₂ class: A. Taycan Turbo S (WLTP): Electric energy consumption combined: 20,5 - 17,9 kWh/100 km; CO₂ emissions combined: 0 g/km; CO₂ class: A.
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