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13 behind-the-scenes production secrets of 'The Grand Tour'

Ahead of the launch of "The Grand Tour" the show was publicized with a variety of stunts, car shows, and pop-up pubs.

Photo by Getty Images

Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond were recently named to a list of the greatest automotive icons of all time. To anyone paying attention to the car scene over the last two decades, it's no wonder how they got on the list.

First on "Top Gear" then on "The Grand Tour", the three hosts, with a lot of assistance behind the scenes from executive producer Andy Wilman, the trio engaged a whole new generation of car fanatics and reignited the passions of older generations.

It's safe to say that there have been millions of man-hours put in on the track, in fields, across tarmac, in jungles and deserts, and on roadways across the world over the better part of the 2000s by the team. What goes into making an episode ready for an audience?

In a YouTube chat between Clarkson and Wilman that aired exclusively on the DriveTribe channel (the hosts own DriveTribe), the two divulged some secrets about what goes into producing an episode of "The Grand Tour". Scroll to the bottom of this article to watch the video.

"The Grand Tour" team films twice as many hours as most shows.

According to the duo, the average documentary show, like what David Attenborough produces, films 500 hours of footage for every hour that ends up on the screen. "The Grand Tour" films about 1,000 hours. It's Wilman and his team's job to edit that down to a 90-ish minute show. Of that, 100 hours is with what they refer to as "big cameras" and the other 900 is the trio going, "blah, blah, blah," as Wilman puts it.

The presenters have off buttons on their mics but Hammond frequently misuses his and May and Clarkson never take advantage of the option.

"Hammond uses it but he gets it confused," tells Wilman. "So he'll switch it off when he's reviewing a car and then when he's talking to Mindy about, I don't know, horse prices or the rural bullocks, he's got it on."

The shortest of the presenters is often teased by his counterparts for living in the countryside with his wife, Mindy.

Most of the filming is just Clarkson, May, and Hammond chatting amongst themselves.

As Wilman says, "Going on and on." Shouting at other cars, calling each other names, discussing the sad state of the situation are all topics frequently covered.

Wilman drives one of the three tracking cars and usually wrecks it.

Filming the show is a manual in what not to do during a traditional street drive. Clarkson describes Wilmas as having three walkie-talkies going at the same time, driving one of three chase vehicles, directing a camera man, and trying to hit all sorts of bumps that make for good TV.

Wilman describes it as a "stressful time" but assures Clarkson that he's not always at fault.

"The Grand Tour" is filmed in 4K, which means that the 1,000 hours of footage takes five weeks to go from camera to computer to edit.

Why? "It's all technical shit. Don't ask me," says Wilman waving his hands and joking that the computer it goes into is Fred Fintstone-era equipment. That five weeks is before the editors can even access the footage to begin their process.

All that dialogue gets transcribed into a script that is printed out.

Every time Clarkson, Hammond, May, or a production team member airs an utterance on film, it is captured as part of a script. When it's printed, it looks akin to a copy of "Ulysses" on loose printed paper.

They edit out James May smoking.

The editor then has to take out the parts of the film where May is smoking and Clarkson is shouting (perhaps profanely) at passersby. He has to match up all the cameras shot by shot. "The Grand Tour" production team drives three chase vehicles while filming and there's frequently at least three cameras shooting at the same time. This part takes another five weeks.

Are you counting? That's already 10 weeks post-shooting.

It takes three months of editing to shape an episode.

Production at this point is a back and forth process. Even when "The Grand Tour" team is done with it, they still have to send it to Amazon. Wilman says that Amazon keeps it for another five weeks.

The latest episode of "The Grand Tour", which was filmed in Madagascar in autumn 2019, has been held up because of coronavirus.

According to Wilman, it normally takes a few months to edit one of the episodes, but the extended lag time for this episode is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. Editing and production teams have not been able to work together in one space and Wilman was himself afflicted by COVID-19 (he's since healed). During the discussion, Wilman assured fans that they continue to work on the episode from a distance, on less than ideal equipment (laptops) and hope to have it out soon.

Clarkson, May, Hammond, and Wilman have no say on when the episodes get released.

After the final cuts have been made by "The Grand Tour" team, the production company sends the footage to Amazon. Amazon then determines when the episode will air and holds out telling the group because they have, "big gulps," says Wilman, and will tell everybody.

Production of the episode set to air after the Madagascar one was halted because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The team was to head to northern Russia in mid-March. You can read more about that journey and where the episode now stands here.

The best outtake you'll never see is from Morocco.

The men filmed a scene where they were stacking animals on the scale that was... a bit gruesome. Wilman and Clarkson say that they soon realized that if they showed the footage to the public, animal rights protesters would be banging down their doors so they decided to leave it on the cutting room floor. However, the dialogue during that part of the episode was, apparently, pure gold.

We'll never get an episode devoted to b-roll.

From Wilman's mouth: "No. That's the point of editing. You don't want to watch that crap... You know the bloke at the end of a wedding, 'round about midnight, who is telling a joke... that's what the rest is like."

See a clip of the interview here:

This is why The Grand Tour is taking so long www.youtube.com

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Electric vehicles

Three new EVs we can't wait to see

The F-150 Lightning is just one of several new EVs we'll see soon.

Ford

With all the crazy news coming out of the auto industry this year, it'd be easy to believe that the rollout of new models is slowing to a snail's pace. The pandemic and ongoing microchip shortage have slowed vehicle production, to be sure, but they haven't put the brakes on automakers' push to roll out exciting new electric vehicles. In the next few months alone, we'll see several new electric trucks, cars, and SUVs hit the market, some of which will break new ground and help define their segments. We're on board with this trend 100 percent, and to help you get excited, we've rounded up a few of our favorites.

Here are the three upcoming electric vehicles we're most excited to see.

Ford F-150 Lightning

One of the world's best-selling and most popular vehicles is going electric. The Ford F-150 Lightning is set to arrive in 2022 with a fully electric powertrain, forward-looking technology, and a familiar style that will make any truck lover feel at home. We don't have full details on the truck, but Ford has shared some awe-inspiring performance numbers. The Lightning will offer around 563 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque, which should push the truck to 60 mph from a standstill in just four seconds. Payload capacity comes in at up to 2,000 pounds, and towing will reach 10,000 pounds for specific configurations.


Ford F-150 Lightning The Lightning will offer impressive capability in a familiar package.Ford


The Lightning's starting price will come in under $40,000, but don't get your hopes up about actually buying one for that amount. Ford says the entry-level Lightning is a commercial truck that will be a stripped-down work-ready vehicle, which likely means features like vinyl seats and far fewer of the desirable tech goodies that you'll want. To get the truck you and your family will want to drive, you'll need to spring for the XLT model, which starts just shy of $53,000. That's quite a bit more, but it is still a somewhat reasonable price to pay for what will surely be a capable electric pickup.

Mercedes-Benz EQS

The S-Class is a unique model in Mercedes-Benz's lineup. The car typically showcases the automaker's latest technologies and design techniques and offers a glimpse of the features that eventually trickle down to the rest of Mercedes' vehicles. Soon, we'll see the EQS, a fully electric flagship sedan that paves the way for the brand's other electrified offerings. The car will have a range of well over 400 miles on a charge, up to 516 horsepower, rear-axle steering, and breathtaking technology.


Mercedes-Benz EQS The EQS will usher in a new electric era at Mercedes.Mercedes-Benz


The EQS is expected to land sometime late in 2021 and will carry a price tag that matches its premium brand name and top-notch feature set. Pricing for the "entry-level" EQS 450+ will come in at around $100,000, while the top EQS 580 4MATIC will land well north of that number. Remember, though, that Mercedes offers a long list of ultra-desirable options for its cars, so you'll likely shell out more than the base price to get the features you want.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

The Hyundai Ioniq name is nothing new, but the way it will be seen in the automaker's lineup will change significantly going forward. Rather than being a model name within the Hyundai catalog, Ioniq will split off and become its own sub-brand, covering a line of electric vehicles of all types. The Ioniq 5 is the first such vehicle and will be offered in single- or dual-motor configurations that generate 225 or 320 horsepower. The car's futuristic design is attractive and features a pixelated look for the front-end, lighting features, and rear. Inside, the vehicle is clean but comforting and offers the features buyers expect in a family crossover.


Hyundai Ioniq 5 The Ioniq 5 is the first in what will be an entire line of new EVs from Hyundai.Hyundai


The Ioniq 5 should go on sale in late 2021 and is expected to cost between $40,000 and $50,000.

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Musical artist H.E.R. has worked with Honda designers to customize a Civic Type R.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
H.E.R. graced the stage at the 2021 Honda Civic Tour but before that happens, the R&B singer-songwriter has put her stamp on a custom-designed Honda Civic Type R. This one-off is part of a longstanding tradition of Civic Tour headliners designing a custom Civic.

The unique-looking model is a reflection of H.E.R.'s personal values. Nuance, subtlety, and "sharing your heart" are held high. This all starts with the car's exterior where a deep black matte finish washes over the model while chameleon-tinted headlamps and windows, purple brake calipers and nebula painted trim are presented as intriguing highlights.

Designers worked to customize the cabin as well, adding nebula painted accents and special LED interior lighting that changes colors based on music and sound inside the vehicle by featuring custom colors, moods, brightness levels and rotating color patterns, adjustable by a smartphone.

H.E.R. Unveils Custom ‘Honda Civic Type R’ Presented by the 2021 Honda Civic Tour www.youtube.com

"One of the things that drew me toward the Honda Civic Tour was knowing that I'd be able to design my own vehicle, and out of all Civics, I picked the pinnacle Civic Type R," said H.E.R. "Infusing my personality into all aspects of my performances, and also expressing it through my favorite products, is something that I am passionate about. So being able to create and share my custom Honda Civic Type R with my fans is just so special to me."

H.E.R.'s custom Civic Type R joins Honda vehicles designed by past Civic Tour headliners, including Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Demi Lovato, blink-182, Black Eyed Peas, One Direction, Charlie Puth and more.

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