Midcoast Studio: Driven to Succeed

Lightmap caught up with the talented people at Midcoast Studio to discuss their history, success and how HDR Light Studio enables them to achieve maximum believability in their renders.


A friendship and shared vision to one day open a studio that would serve as a collaborative hive of creativity culminated in the creation of Midcoast Studio, a leading visual solutions studio based in Detroit, Michigan. Founded with traditional photography values at heart in 1984 by fellow Rochester Institute of Technology graduates, Madison Ford and Paul Slocum, the studio has experienced incredible success in the commercial photography field. Their talent and collaborative approach have led a number of high calibre automotive companies to trust their vision, including the iconic Harley Davidson brand.

Madison Ford and Paul Slocum, Founders of Midcoast Studio.

Madison Ford and Paul Slocum, Founders of Midcoast Studio.

With the technological revolution impacting every industry, the business of commercial art and design at Midcoast changed with it. Evolving from their photographic roots, Midcoast applied its vast knowledge and experience to the ever-changing and dynamic world of CGI, retouching and animation.

Remaining current with technology is a constant challenge, and the artists and animators at the studio are provided with whatever tools they need to stay ahead of the curve. Much of the success of whether CGI is perceived to be believable or not happens in the lighting.

HDR Light Studio, in particular, has granted Midcoast and their CGI artists the flexibility to create the most realistic renders for their customers, but most critically, their automotive clients. George Pizzo, one of Midcoast’s CGI artists, and a frequent user of HDR Light Studio, has experienced the benefits of the software more than most.


George Pizzo

“HDR Light Studio allows me the flexibility to create realistic lighting scenarios, whether environmental or in-studio. By combining the use of picture lights, environmental HDRs and HDR Light Studio’s Sky Background, I can simulate accurate reflections and shadows for renders that achieve maximum believability.”

Midcoast always strives to utilise 3D software which achieves the most realistic or desired results for the task at hand. 3ds Max, V-Ray, Maya, Z-Brush and Corona Renderer are among the most often used on projects, with HDR Light Studio primarily used to marry a rendered image such as an automobile, machine or boat with photographic backplates.


Throughout their history, Midcoast has faced challenges and change aplenty, none more so than the economic crash of 2008; a poignantly difficult period for many businesses in the world, especially the car-centric Detroit.

”That was a tough time for all of us in this region and it hit Midcoast and all of our competitors, many who we count as friends, very hard. Due to our automotive knowledge, we were fortunate to be able to work through that period by staying in the automotive space with an eye on diversifying our client base,” says Joe Borri, Business Development Manager at Midcoast.

On a creative level, Midcoast takes on new challenges and services to constantly evolve as a studio and remain a leading figure in the industry. Among those challenges, Joe states configurators and animations are some of the most difficult tasks to undertake.


”Configurators and animations can present their own set of challenges. Time and care are needed with configurators to make sure every detail and possible combination of assets has been accounted for. Large-scale animations often require working in tandem with the engineers of the product or machine, so the artists need to have some mechanical knowledge of how a given subject works. With these challenges, the studio continues to staff up with the most talented and dedicated artists, producers and animators in the business to offer a complete, satisfactory experience to our clients.”

With over 140 collective years of experience in the commercial art and design business, Midcoast has built a team of multi-talented specialists that have fully invested and bought into the philosophies they hold dear. The studio continues to grow its services and offerings, constantly applying the same tenets of traditional art and photography to everything they do, including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

With the advent of new techniques, technology and demands, Midcoast’s collaborative, loose philosophy encourages their artists to continually push the envelope and experiment with new ideas. As Joe concludes, ”the future looks promising. We love what we do! What more can you ask for?”


Thanks to the team at Midcoast for taking the time to share their great images with us. If you would like to see more of their work visit or