Inspired by the design features of its iconic ancestor from the 1960s, VW introduced the new fully-electric ID.Buzz during a promotion of the Disney+ Star Wars Show ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ by Lucasfilm.
Chris shot the revamped ‘Bulli’ admired by two legendary droids at the Walt-Disney Studios in Burbank, CA. Quite a few crew members were stuck at the hotel with Covid during the time of the shoot but thanks to remote access and a strong core team on set the shots came together nicely.
In post our Stuttgart studio shifted the colours to create a glowing contrast between the purple sky and yellow sheet metal, accentuating the otherworldly atmosphere.
The campaign has been shown on enormous poster sites around Europe:
“Through the mechanical and perpetual movements of diamonds, malachite, tourmaline and pearls the viewer is taken from a rational state of mind to a trance-like hallucination where both image and colours react to the altered state of mind. Jewels are real, but they are also a sub-conscious reality that exist as a state of desire in our mind.”
– Alessandra Kila
Follow Alessandra Kila into a world of hypnotic machines that enthrall through their perpetual movement. Working closely with our London studio, a triptych of full CGI videos evolved, each featuring a piece of Chanel jewellery functioning like an entrancing device: a necklace oscillates like a pendulum, a ring repeats the pattern of a spinning machine and a bracelet echoes the circular movements of a gyroscope.
How we made it:
Starting with a moodboard of references drawn from architecture, fashion, textures and art, Alessandra Kila created a world with a highly curated and very distinct slant on Art Deco.
The jewellery was recreated in CGI from the original pieces, with great attention paid to the texturing of surfaces and the properties of the precious stones. Detail is everything…
For the animations Alessandra and our 3D artist Anna Toropova tested and observed the movements in real life before imitating them on screen. For instance, repeatedly dropping and filming a pearl or a ring, then replicating its motion in CGI.
At times that meant working frame by frame to achieve the most realistic flow. Clay renders below show the careful, precise progress of the work.
The simplified set design and colours subtly harmonise with the Art Deco style of the jewellery pieces.
The sets are particularly inspired by ideas around vitrines and the display of precious objects.
Glitchy psychedelic interruptions jolt the viewer from their reverie, creating dramatic dissonances.
Initial tests show wild experimentation for colours that have just the right qualities.
The final colour grading and sound design pull all the pieces together – blending these two aesthetic worlds.
Director: Alessandra Kila
Concept, Look Development: Alessandra Kila
Full CGI Motion and Stills: Recom Farmhouse
Editor: Zoe Alexandrou
Music Composer and Sound Designer: Manuel Pinheiro
VFX: Alessandra Kila
Compositing: Felix Baesch / Recom Farmhouse
Modelling: Tanguy Koutouan / Recom Farmhouse
Texturing and Shading: Joe Carney / Recom Farmhouse
Animatics and Lighting: Anna Toropova / Recom Farmhouse
Color Grading: Christoph Bolten / Recom Farmhouse
Still Retouching: Aljaz Bezjak, Maria Luisa Calosso / Recom Farmhouse
Tomek Makolski collaborates with Recom Farmhouse to create full CGI staging for an evocative slice of 80s Vegas life.Bored but ultra-glamorous, she stalks her enclosed world of a motel in purest yellow. The images are drenched in intense pastel yellows and blues, but below the surface gloss of this sunny palette, there’s tension in these moments out of time, a sense of detachment, drift and dream.
Why this solitary intermission in her life, just killing time?
Subtle cues in the setting hint at an ambivalent celebrity and faint, atmospheric menace.
A Look Behind The Scenes
We were delighted to collaborate with Tomek to bring this idea to life.
The model photography was already complete, so we began with her character, working collaboratively to imagine a setting for her that would be right for her aesthetic…stylish but faintly gritty.
With a huge variety of movements to choose from, we chose those that contributed to the atmosphere we are trying to build – strongly defined poses with interesting shapes – and built an environment for this character to inhabit.
A sense of place is central to creating realistic environments, even though we didn’t want to without being too explicit about the location. We settled on suburban Las Vegas as having the right combination of motel style that we needed to stage the scenes.
Searching to find a sweet spot between surrealism and reality, we created a realistic motel, and turned every part of yellow to add a jolt of unreality, as well as giving a stylishly minimal feel to the detailed environments.
Smaller cues such as her face in the poster on the wall, or in the magazines ,add to an almost subliminal sense of displacement.
It’s also a time capsule of 80s elements. The styling of the model had already been carefully considered – her sun visor, big hair channeling Faye Dunaway, the cut of her swimsuit – so we chose props such as the vending machine to enhance the feeling of a shift in time.
Tomek already had a moodboard of references, and we expanded on this with contemporary details for all elements – whether integral parts of the set like breeze blocks or railing designs, to objects like towers of cards and an oversized phone.Items like a baseball bat or broken glass contributed to the faint sense of unease, and the feeling of depth and difference in focus enhances the dream-like feeling of the series.
We wanted to use a different, more stripped back workflow on this project. The images were begun in Unreal, the CGI finished in Blender, and then composited and graded in Capture One.
Everything is CGI in the images except the model and the sun lounger – and in fact we we recreated the sun lounger in CGI for a seamless match between the real and the virtual.
We began the project in Unreal, so we could adjust all the elements of the set with maximum interactivity. In Unreal, we matched the lighting and angles of the CGI environment to the original model shots, and tested colours and props at lightning speed.
Instant feedback at high fidelity allowed us to be adventurous in art direction…moving the model around the set without the need to wait for renders. It’s a great platform for experimentation and taking chances.
With the creative decisions made, we moved the project into Blender for the last stage.
This meant we could render the final CGI environments in a high enough quality that we could go directly to compositing and colour grading – an interesting exercise for us to see how far we could push pure CGI.
Finally, we added the model in via Capture One with minimal colour work – just minimal grading to balance her correctly into the CGI backplate.
We hope you enjoy the way this collaboration blurs the line between fantasy and reality…we’re proud to have made the dream real.
Soundtrack: We recommend Bananarama and Fun Boy Three: Our Lips Are Sealed
Turbo-Dial us on our Motorola Micro-Tac and let us take you back to Miami’s South Beach in the mid 1990s. Photographer Tim Adorf was inspired by the look of the local bodybuilding culture of that time, to create this wildly inventive series that combines automotive and still life CGI with fashion photography, and a dash of graphic design resulting in an atmospheric slice of 90s Miami life. You can almost smell the CK One…
Stylist Stephanie Wüstemann sourced a state of the art (in 1997) Motorola mobile phone, which Recom then modelled in CGI. Using the same angles for the car shots and the phone, the team brought the series together.
Adorf found his own personal Muscle Beach in a tiled carport in Barcelona, the perfect setting for the eye-popping physique of model Uri Garcia.
The freedom of CGI meant that they could choose one of the most iconic cars of that era, the Lamborghini Diablo. It was a perfect fit for this series! The CGI team made the dream real in a very 1990s shade of metallic purple. We came up with simplified and stylish angle suggestions and rough crop tests of the larger shots, slowly adding variants to the series.
Based on the original manual, Maison CC worked on the design – their laser focus on the mood of advertisement product shots of the time made the 1990s aesthetics as tight as purple spandex! Dreamboat posters and ripped out magazine advert pages add to the vintage character.
Finally, the post artists of Recom Berlin pumped up the grade and buffed the series to perfection.
Andrey Fabishevsky dreamed up the original idea for a creative sketch challenge with a friend on Instagram, and developed it into a CGI concept. The idea took social media by storm, with features and speculation about the possibilities.
“I’d seen some very stylised and cool concept sketches of NASA motorcycles, and I wanted to make a bike in CGI that felt like a fully functional concept, not just a cool stylised idea.” – Andrey Fabishevsky
Bringing the dream to life
Among those who saw the idea and loved it was Nico Mueller of Hookie – a Dresden based design company working on custom motorbikes, components and accessories. Inspired by Andrey’s visual, they contacted him with the idea of making the bike for real. The project was named “Tardigrade” after the tough little organisms that have been known to survive even in space. Andrey made new CGI drawings, exploring the construction in more detail in preparation for the build.
“Together with Hookie, we made something really cool and fresh. I haven’t seen the motorcycle in real life yet…I hope this will happen soon!” – Andrey Fabishevsky
At Hookie, the process of the build began – intricate welding, careful machining and many late nights brought the Tardigrade into reality.
“A thought experiment that also raises questions about our future: What would life beyond planetary boundaries look like? What demands does outer space make on a bike that can travel in the darkness of space and largely from the shackles of gravity over icy lunar dust? And how far away are we from such scenarios?” – Nico Müller, Hookie
Read more about the construction on their dedicated site here: Hookie Tardigrade.
For even more details on the build, there’s an in-depth article in BikeExif here.
With the long and detailed build and development complete, they now needed the imagery that would convey the idea and fire the imagination.
The search was on for a location that could stand in for the moon, and friends of Hookie knew the perfect space – a porcelain clay mine in the Czech Republic.
The bike travelled by trailer from Dresden and was lovingly assembled ready to be captured in action for the first time. The fine pale dust of the clay worked brilliantly for both the texture for the bike’s trails, and the lighting and structure of the lunar surface.
” It was surreal. Andrew and Hookie did such an amazing job. Standing on this location with this bike felt like – What else could anyone wish for. It looked right from the first second on.” – J. Konrad Schmidt
Back in Stuttgart, Recom worked with Konrad to achieve an otherworldly atmosphere, referencing real life lunar photography in the contrast and grading. Some details were tidied up, such as removing the bike’s stand and remaking the wheels in CGI in order to have a realistic feeling of speed.
” To break out of every day life, it is always cool to jump into space travel, to create an outer space lunar feel for such a beautifully designed – out of this world! – object as the TARDIGRADE. Recom is ready for the moon.” – Thorsten Jasper Weese, Recom Stuttgart
With the world premiere as a part of the ADV:Overland exhibition at Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles in late 2021, Hookie wants to prove that even fantastic ideas can mature into a real, tangible object. All it takes is a vision and curiosity about the unknown.
Keep in contact with the continuing story of the Tardigrade on Hookie’s dedicated site here.
Selection of Images
A selection from the project. See the full series on recomfarmhouse.com here, on recom.de here, or on Behance here.
Although, it’s up for debate whether we escaped our most vicious foes after all. I suppose we may have “overlooked” remote work being as debilitating as it has been. With New Yorkers primarily still working from home, and the fun months of banana bread making behind us, we face the difficulty of living in The Recom Fearhouse. Conference calls disrupted by barking dogs, spilled coffee from tripping over children’s toys, ordering pizza in a trance of perpetual snacking…
…not getting enough time to play may have made us all a little “dull.”
This essence of insanity from too much vacationing at home was manifested to match that of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, a cult classic, and a Recom NYC favourite. An avid appreciation for the film spurred numerous easter eggs and tie-ins to the 1980 hit.
A closer look will reveal all… BUT BEWARE! What you see may frighten, perhaps even scar you!
Unable to view the Overlook Hotel in person, we recreated it in CGI from movie references. We matched the lighting, props, and composition from those of the screen grabs.
Once our foundation was set, our team of horror fans began compositing items from our home offices into the scene.
We embellished the truth a bit, making the “real” Recom Fearhouse from children’s toys, cold coffee, and stale pizza to sell that aspect of homegrown insanity. And ya know, a little whiskey for… improved focus… hehe.
Once we’d decorated the room with our aromatic décor, it was time to collect our sheets of sprawled paper with our twist on “All work and no play.”
Of course, the typewriter alone wouldn’t be enough of a tribute to the pop-culture, trendsetter source material. Pulling out our digital pocketknives, we carved the famous “Redrum” into our tabletop, and we placed them right beside our matching twin VW’s Beetles. Our twins are still in one piece, though…
Maybe next year we’ll dust our Fearhouse Mobile off and see where it takes us. Hopefully somewhere quiet…
Creative Direction: Richard Levene, Steven Orts, Andrew Coleman, Robert Russ, Luke Burke / Recom Farmhouse NYC
CGI: Luke Burke / Recom Farmhouse NYC
Retouching & Editing: Steven Orts, Andrew Coleman, Robert Russ / Recom Farmhouse NYC
Sound Compilation: Robert Russ / Recom Farmhouse NYC
“And suddenly the world stands still. Pandemic, quarantine, lockdown. Thrown back on ourselves. We have to go on – anyway. New normality. Rethink, now. Sensible approach to old patterns in an unusual light. The tools: solidarity, resilience, pragmatism. First cautious steps forward … “
During the first lockdown as the world came to a stand still and we were confined to our homes, Ralph Mecke got assigned to shoot a new fashion series. At the time the photographer was staying in his New York apartment with his wife and son.
During a brainstorming session with our CGI director Thorsten Jasper Weese in Stuttgart, the idea was born to visualize the extraordinary situation and feelings of isolation using imagery of the eerily deserted streets of the city paired with abstract 3D renderings.
Ralph and his designer clad son, as the talent, roamed the empty city in search for spots that would normally beam with life and activity. Once the team in Stuttgart received all the photo material, they created rough and imperfect 3D art elements via photogrammetry software.
Photogrammetry is a technique to obtain reliable data of real-world objects in the environment by creating 3D models from photos.
2D and 3D data is extracted from an image and, with overlapping photos of an object, building, or terrain, converted into a digital 3D model. This allows capturing large objects, even landscapes, that would otherwise be impossible to scan. As such, photogrammetry is often used by surveyors, architects, engineers, and contractors to create topographic maps, networks, or point clouds.
Client: Best Fashion Magazine
Photographer: Ralph Mecke
Producer: Yilmaz Aktepe
Talent: Cedric Mecke
CGI Director: Thorsten Jasper Weese / Recom Group
Post Artists: Thorsten Jasper Weese, Thomas Saalfrank / Recom Group
3D Artworks: Thorsten Jasper Weese / Recom Group
Recom Farmhouse is looking for a highly creative Retoucher with a good eye for colour and light and a strong sense for photorealism and composition.
You are highly proficient in Photoshop and have a good understanding of Capture One.
A solid experience in multi pass compositing is essential, experience in animation, Nuke and colour grading would be a plus. As CG automotive is our biggest area of work, you would feel at home in this field and enjoy the technical aspect of retouching.
Recom Farmhouse is a creatively demanding workplace where boundaries are pushed and where personal, technical, creative growth is supported. Use of all technical equipment for personal projects is offered.
The ideal candidate has a solid portfolio showing a broad variety of work. You take pride in your work and never hesitate to go the extra mile to achieve outstanding results.
Whether working independently on projects or as part of a team you approach each project with a can-do attitude, an understanding of project workflows and priorities, and good time-management skills
The Clapton Tram Depot is a great working environment of converted buildings around a cobbled street / courtyard with a variety of small and interesting creative businesses. There is plenty of bike parking inside our big warehouse space and we’re close to Clapton train station. We believe strongly in a good work/life balance and enjoyable working conditions. We keep to a 40 hour work week whenever possible, with flexible start and end times (deadlines permitting).
We love to see creative, personal and professional development and support training, personal projects, self-learning, conferences and field trips such as exhibitions.
We always take time out to sit down to our communal lunch, which is provided – we decide together what we want each week, and order a wide range for all tastes and preferences. We all realise the importance of coffee and have an excellent espresso machine.
Recom Farmhouse is an award winning creative post production studio. As one of the major players in the advertising world, we are known for their photo realistic approach and strong aesthetic. Our CG work includes automotive, landscape, interior and architecture. Our retouching work expands into fashion and lifestyle as well as still life of all kinds.
If you’re interested in working with us, please send your CV and five portfolio images to email@example.com, with a little about why you chose these projects, what you did, and what you especially like about each one. Please include “Application Creative Retoucher 2021” in the subject line of your email.
Creative Director Mark Dickens and copywriter Joe Tanner of agency Dog Cat & Mouse came up with a strong visual concept to launch a new campaign by Idling Action London encouraging drivers to switch off when pulled over. “Engine Off Every Stop” shows the amount of pollution emitted by a car in just one minute of idling.”
“We knew it was a problem that drivers were not taking seriously enough. So, our idea was to make this invisible problem, visible.” – Creative Director Mark Dickens
Working with director Nick Meek to decide on instantly relatable and logistically simple locations, they settled on a school for the video. A shop, a plumber and a residential street were added to make four still versions.
Shooting during lockdown, it was necessary to have the smallest crew possible, so Nick was directing and doing all camerawork himself, with Joe directing the talent. Recom Farmhouse CGI Director Christoph Bolten was on set to advise on what footage would be needed for the VFX to work smoothly, ensure there would be the right empty backplates, shoot HDR spheres and advise on the feasibility of the ideas for post-production.
Organisation was vital in these circumstances, our extensive preparation paid off and everything went very smoothly. With the backgrounds shot for four stills and the commercial, we started post-production.
Creating the balloon
The gases themselves are largely invisible, so to give visual impact to just how big the volume of pollution is in such a short amount of time, Nick wanted the inflating bag to be semi-transparent, to convey the volume and give an idea of the content. It should be as thin as possible, to show the billowing movements, and it should have seams, to feel as if it was a material construction.
Before starting work on the CGI, Recom Farmhouse studied reference of plastic film and how it moves and crinkles, how the shape of the bag would be, and how it would inflate, so that the balloon looked as believable as possible. A balloon couldn’t inflate for real in this way, so it’s vital for the idea to work that the viewer understands what’s happening – realism in the movement of the material was of paramount importance.
CGI artist Richard Jenkinson used Maya to simulate the movements of smoke as a starting point. With an initial idea of how the shape would be, he exported it from Maya into Zbrush, and split it up into separate panels.
Creating the reverse movement was an interesting challenge, as the balloon is sucked back into the exhaust – we pulled the simulated material through a hole for a realistic effect.
Once we were happy with the result, we brought it back into ZBrush to add extra detail for the four still images.
A series of tests went back and forth between the teams, perfecting the inflating bags against backdrops, with materials and shape to suit each individual setting.
The agency used our first test renders to work on the type for each headline, and we worked on the final copy to integrate it both realistically and legibly onto the material of the bag itself.
The poster campaign is up in locations all over London – these were selected to be places where those where idling is common. It has also been received well on social media, ran in Youtube pre-roll, on radio, on petrol pumps and is extensively in use in education with an outreach program to schools.
Recom Farmhouse was delighted to be asked by Map Project Office to partner them in creating the visuals to accompany an extraordinary partnership of technological and aesthetic creativity.
Map are a strategic industrial design whose work strives to humanise complex and abstract technologies. Working with IBM Research, they were deeply involved in the production of System One, the world’s first integrated quantum computing system. As well as its groundbreaking technology, System One is a masterpiece of industrial design, an appropriately sized leap for IBM. Superconducting qubits are housed in an airtight borosilicate glass cube three metres on each side which nevertheless opens effortlessly for maintenance, exquisitely balanced and engineered for its immense weight and delicacy.
You can read more about the design of this fascinating project here, on Behance.
The creative team at Map wanted the very highest aesthetic standards of imagery to match their design excellence, and chose to work with Recom Farmhouse for the imagery of the machine itself.
Map put a very strong emphasis on the human collaborative element in all their work. Alessandra Kila joined the team as director, providing her unique vision to these images which needed to be produced in CGI due to the logistics demanded by the enormous size of the computer. The entire team met for sessions at Recom Farmhouse’s London studio where we developed visual concepts that resonated with both Map’s original design inspirations and the fully built and functioning machine, with inspiration from influences as diverse as Paul Strand and Stanley Kubrick.
In collaboration with Will Howe of Map and Mark Podlaseck of IBM, we developed a concept described here by Santi Minasi (screenplay, editor & sound):
“A waltz of shots from infinitely small to the whole shape – where each fragment has the same patterns and structure of the total: fractals.But when our eyes adjust to the obscurity we have the impression that the computer (now in a really dark twilight) is floating in the obscurity of an imperceptible universe. Using the metaphor of fractals, now the computer is an infinitely small part of the cosmos. This last shot is only allusive and cryptic, almost black. But not at all.
Is that mystery? Infinitely small is like infinitely big.”
We developed these ideas still further, compositing it into a dark and subtly architectural background space. System, setting and lighting have clear reference to icons of science fiction…but also a more sombre and spiritual dimension with their pillars and arches. Ideas of protection are reinforced – the thick glass forms a shield for the machine but is also transparent and accessible.
Director Alessandra Kila takes up the narrative:
“I was very interested in the reflective qualities of the glass and mirrored surfaces used in the design. Aside from protection, it adds a continuous dialogue between human being and technology as we keep on reflecting ourselves whilst operating the machine or standing in front of it. We played a lot with the whole concept of reflections. Nearly all the close ups play with this idea: it’s either the door or the cryostat etc..We went from close ups and abstract views to a much wider cut revealing the whole computer.
There is a rhythm and crescendo in the whole film. From molecular to a more universal view…so much so that the computer could have finally be itself part of the universe.We played with ideas of darkness and brightness throughout the film: Dark and powerful, but also illuminating and going beyond our comprehension.The music and sound is very evocative and reminiscent of primordial stages of life. It has been mixed with the real sound of the actual computer recorded on location. This much more strident and mechanical sound together with the lament/sound used conferred to the whole film a very ancestral quality.”
Visual effects legend Douglas Trumbull worked closely with the IBM team to visualise an idea of quantum molecular dynamics. The eventual short film incorporated his organically inspired abstract VFX footage, coalescing these two atmospheres with sound and music.
‘Recom Farmhouse’ cut:
The footage was destined to be shown on IMAX-sized screens at presentations to influential people, and therefore needed to be both visually and aurally stunning at the highest quality. So for the animation, we made a super-wide version for maximum impact on the widest cinema screens.
Super Wide Version (no sound) :
To give an idea of the scale, here’s a look at the visuals in use at CES:
The system is shortlisted for major design awards including D&AD with the imagery featuring very heavily in the press, and we’re very happy to have been a part of this revolutionary project.
Client: Map Project Office
Project Manager: Will Howe
IBM Project Manager: Mark Podlaseck
Screenplay: Santi Minasi / Recom Farmhouse London
Creative Direction: Will Howe / Map Project Office
Director: Alessandra Kila & Christoph Bolten / Recom Farmhouse London
Retouching: Kate Brown / Recom Farmhouse London
CGI Director: Christoph Bolten / Recom Farmhouse London
Compositing: Kate Brown / Recom Farmhouse London
Editor: Santi Minasi / Recom Farmhouse London
Sound : Santi Minasi / Recom Farmhouse London
VFX footage : Douglas Trumbull