Mercedes C-Class with Clemens Ascher
Recom Farmhouse is proud to show you an epic project, a year in the making. This extraordinary campaign from Antoni for the new Mercedes C-Class takes the concept of a car as a comfort zone and pushes it to a level previously undreamed of. The team invented different characters and visualised their personal comfort zones – deconstructing their interests and places of longing, and building these as immersive set installations set against CGI city backgrounds.
Concepts and planning
Art director Tim Grötzinger and photographer Clemens Ascher laid the groundwork for the concepts in remote sessions with mood boards and references, while at Recom Farmhouse we began work on the CGI cities.
With the fundamentals in place, Tim, Clemens, and set designer Daryl McGregor spent an intense week together with the team in Recom Farmhouse’s London studio. After initial work was done remotely, to be able to collaborate reactively in person was incredibly rewarding. Moving around the virtual sets and making synergistic creative decisions, it’s here that the campaign really came together. A supercharged combination of using the highest technology together with the simplest (but still among the most effective) creative forms of markers, whiteboards, printouts and arm-waving to hone each execution.
We built the urban environments entirely in CGI, inspired by real areas of New York and Los Angeles so that architecture, streets and other elements worked together coherently. Once created, we could move around the streets we’d built, exactly as we’d walk around a block in real life when scouting a location – checking which camera angles and light paths work best.
Clemens and Daryl had planned detailed sets for each concept – a Zen garden, a beach, flowers and moss, a mountain lake – each with surreal and beautiful details. He drew each set into prints of our pre-renders, which we colourised and refined, to form layouts for the studio shoot. For each shot, we loaded the lighting into the CGI set as it would be in the exact location at the exact dates. This allowed us to meticulously plan our shoot days, knowing at what angles we needed to set up the cars in the daylight studio.
At Inmotion studios in southern Germany, carefully cast individualist models completed the staging of each tableau, built entirely for real by Daryl and captured by photographer Clemens Ascher. Our pre-planned sun-paths meant that the lighting of each set, character and car matched the cityscapes perfectly, and the studio’s vast indoor space allowed us to replicate the lighting indoors when necessary.
After this explosion of creativity, the detailed technical work of rendering and compositing showcased the incalculable value of a faultlessly organised team at both Antoni and Recom Farmhouse. Lightning fast communication and huge experience in technical and pipeline organisation combined for colossal artistic impact as the project was refined further.The stark city settings in cool white or blood red make a sharp contrast to the lush, glowing fantasies of the comfort zones. With the shots composited in place, we polished the shapes, texture and lighting so that the sets could feel astonishingly believable in spite of their impossible colouring – balancing this dichotomy in both the detail and scale of the CGI was vital to the success of the project.
With the final files involving close to ten thousand layers and weighing in at nearly ten terabytes of data, the technical aspects were demanding in the extreme, with the whole team pushing themselves and their machines to their limits. The crowning touch was to print out all the finished executions for detailed checking. Even with the highest resolution screens available, only the quality prints of prints more often found in an art gallery can simultaneously let us check fine-grained detail and judge the overall impact of the entire image, and the coherence of the campaign.
We’re all tremendously happy to show the outstanding success of a bold client willing to look beyond the conventional, working with a highly organised and focused creative team. Creating these amazing images took us on an epic journey, and we’d do it all again!
Photographer: Clemens AscherAgency: Antoni Garage
Art Director: Tim Grötzinger, Lidia Koesling
Creative Director: Christian Kies, Christopher Hoene
Executive Creative Director: Tilman Gossner, Marcell Franke
Creative Producer: Negin Ghanizadeh
Set Design: Daryl McGregor
Studio: Inmotion Studios
Digital Operator: Jorge Dieguez
Casting: Dominik Wimmer
Models: Eva Berzina, Scott Licznerski, Eny Jaki, Oliver Kludjeson
Styling: Sina Braetz
Hair and Makeup: Ute Hildenbeutel
First Assistant: Max Rempe
Production: Always Everything
Photographer’s Agent: SchierkeRecom Farmhouse Team:
CGI Artists: Michael Bonnington, Anna Toropova, Marvin Lübke, Max Maßloh, Richard Jenkinson, Sebastian Schierwater / Recom Farmhouse & Recom BerlinPost Artists: Pepê Alram, Aljaz Bezjak, Kate Brown, Maria Luisa Calosso, Chloe Dodds / Recom Farmhouse
Animation Compositor: Felix BaeschThanks to: Benedikt Hoell, Friend & Johnson