“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
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!
Like so many complex productions, this was a simple idea – to make a short film as a showcase. To push some boundaries and possibilities in our work. And also to have some fun at the same time!
Of course we wanted to work with a car….but in a modern visual language evolving around the dynamism developing in electric cars. Images of power and light, of a clean and positive future, more attuned to the environment without losing any of its visceral impact as an object of desire.
What contemporary pioneers would inspire us, visually and conceptually?
A character to be the centre of gravity for our story.
We settled on a man with a dream to be the first Black man on the Moon.
Setting and mood building
When creating the world for this character to live in the process (as always) started long before any CGI – with pen and paper, talking and thinking. Using these analogue methods allows for swift changes and flexible, imaginative thinking, to expand the possibilities, making it so much easier to say “What if…”
We built the world up through questions, rather than software.
Where would this person live?
What kind of house?
What’s in it?
What do these things tell us?
What’s the landscape and plants like that surround it?
Such level of detail isn’t usual in advertising so it was an interesting exercise, which has parallels in the process of CGI. Just as we built a ‘real’ framework for CGI structures, lighting and cameras, we referenced reality to construct the character and story, to make both feel more tangible. Every viewer doesn’t see every detail, but the liminal storytelling of these elements brings vivid personality to the atmosphere.
To develop the luminous and dynamic look, we wanted glowing light and rich, soft-textured shadows, imagery of space and earth, sliding and gliding lights both natural and artificial.
We collected ideas and inspiration from a huge variety of influences – from film, to photography of architecture, light and atmospheric affects, to artists working with light like Yayoi Kusama and Olafur Eliasson.
With these assembled, we began the process of story development.Thinking, reviewing, collaborating, thinking again – working to define and refine the story and the shots that we needed to tell it. As the story began to coalesce around these storyboards and with each development, we felt it was getting closer to the vision we had.
Eventually we had a full set of storyboards, making the flow of shots complete and suggesting in itself further improvements.
With choices made on the shots we would need, we had the maximum amount of time for creating detailed work on each one in Maya.
For each shot, we also honed the camera moves. Of course in CGI there are no restrictions… but it’s integral to the work to consider how a real camera would move. So we gave a lot of thought to how this would actually be filmed, reproducing the constraints of a physical camera with car to car filming, rig shots or drone shots. Impossible camera moves are a clear cue of artificiality, so lead CG artist Tanguy Koutouan had to balance boldness against the potential of unreality. Each move was refined until it was smooth and harmonious with the other elements such as the car’s suspension movements, or camera drifts for organic animations.
We discussed our ideas for the project with the team at Audi, who we often work with. Audi very kindly gave us the concept model of their new Audi e-tron GT – the perfect car for the character we had created.
With an initial sequence in place, we cast for a model to represent our hero. Director of Photography for this was Jorge Diéguez, who assembled a fantastic crew, selected equipment and took care of the lighting, matching it meticulously to the sequences already visualised. Set designer Jason Synnott rigged up the car seat with steering wheel construction, and we shot the green screen sequences at our neighbours: Hackney Studios, with on-set VFX supervision and general advice from Gareth Repton.
Compositing, editing, sound and polish
The music by Olafur Arnalds was the key to bringing everything together – we altered shots and especially camera moves to match the rhythm of the piece, and make everything fit together flawlessly.
The scenes were rendered in VRay, and then taken into Nuke for compositing led by Felix Baesch. In this phase, enormous amounts of infinitesimal adjustments finessed the result for maximum photorealism. We added matte painting for the mountains, created the moon, removed occasional CGI artefacts and added the green screen footage of the model.
This polished footage was then brought into Resolve for Tanguy to continue the process of editing, and Dan Carney to bring his detailed eye for nuanced colour to the grading.
With editing and colour grading in place, the film went to Gavin Little at Echolab for sound editing. Although the music carries the whole piece, sound makes it subtly immersive – small details that bring atmosphere but never overpower the music. At the same time, we designed the title sequence and the end credits.
These initial phases were completed in a more conventionally collaborative form, all working together. The later phases were during lockdown, so we worked and collaborated remotely, as we’re very used to doing with our internationally based team. This was a long journey for us all, and we’re very proud to present the completed film.
Low Earth Orbit
Put your headphones on and go full screen to join Recom Farmhouse on a lucid vision of a night drive, with repeating visual themes of orbital geometries and light – from softly radiant moonlight to coruscating fireflies, from sliding reflections on wind-honed bodywork to glowing incandescence of stars. The voyage you dream of is closer than you think…
A Recom Farmhouse Production
Written and directed by Tanguy Koutouan
Co-Director: Christoph Bolten
Executive Producer: Christoph Bolten
Sound Design Gavin Little | Echolab
Music by Ólafur Arnalds
Colour Grading : Dan Carney
Lead CG Artist: Tanguy Koutouan
CG Artists: Carlos Pecino, Anna Toropova, Luca Veronese, Joe Carney
Lead Compositor: Felix Baesch
Additional Compositor: Stéphane Lugiery
Title Design: Martha Tullberg
Title Animation: Aljaž Bezjak
Original Screenplay: Santi Minasi
Storyboard: Tanguy Koutouan
Editor: Tanguy Koutouan
Green Screen Shoot at Hackney Studios
Directed by Christoph Bolten
Art Director Tanguy Koutouan
Director of Photography: Jorge Diéguez
Gaffer: David Nye
1st AC: Julian Lalinde
Production: Martha Tsvyatkov
Set Design: Jason Synnott
Model Damien Le-Hoste | Base Models
On-Set VFX Supervisor: Gareth Repton
Moon Images: NASA
Styling: @vakundok & Alessandra Kila
Special Thanks to: Geoffroy Givry, Cameron Smither, Alessandra Kila, Martha Tsvyatkov, Sven Hasenjäger at 380 Grad, Sarah Giles at Universal Music, Adora Makokha at Kobalt Music.
‘You see more when you don’t fly’ is Eurostar’s latest TV and print campaign. Trying to train an enormous bird with a brain size of a walnut is challenging enough, but what to do when there’s only Emus or randy ostriches available at the time of preproduction? A CG ostrich comes the rescue…
Photographer Nick Meek asked us to hop into the nest to hatch the unusual tourist on the screen. Before heading to Amsterdam and Paris the team covered several locations in London, accompanied by our local CGI director Christoph Bolten and post artist Maria Luisa Calosso. With the support of an endearing and very patient cardboard bird, our CGI experts made sure to gather all necessary elements and spheres for the comprehensive post production process.
Hatching a plan for a CGI Ostrich:
Besides matching camera angles, scale and lighting, it was crucial to have the bird appear as realistic as possible, without looking too anthropomorphic – detail in the eyes and beak was the key here, and finally some hand-drawing of the feathers for the most naturalistic look possible.
Watch our new feathered friend come alive in these videos!
We travelled to Capetown with Nick Meek to shoot this Nissan campaign for TBWA Paris.
“While some may think that adding technology detracts from the raw experience of driving, Nissan is proving that technology can turn your car into an exciting partner”
With the idea of humanising technology, it was appropriate that we all had the most fun with the spacesuit! Join us nn set with New Moon Productions in Capetown…
Simon from New Moon productions suits up!
In post-production, we put together the astronaut image and ‘painted’ it in Photoshop onto the side of the wall – see how we did it :
Agency: TBWA Paris
Photographer: Nick Meek
Photographer’s Agent: Prune Pariente, Florence Moll
Creative Director: Darren Rosenberg
Art Buyer: Claire Sougy-Walwer
Art Director: Joy Robin
Production: New Moon Production
Post Artist: Pepe Alram, Aljaz, Bezjak / Recom Farmhouse
We’re always interested to hear from creative minds. 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.
The Clapton Tram Depot, home of our London studio, 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.
In NYC, we’re based in Brooklyn, at West 67th St. It’s a beautiful converted rope factory housing a huge variety of creative industries, close to the Greenpoint Avenue stop on the G train. L train is in walkable distance, and we are 5 minutes away from the East River ferry stop on India Street.
At both studios, 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. Every two weeks, we also have a masseur visit on site, to keep your Wacom arm in tip-top shape!
So if you think you’d like to work with us, please send your CV and three projects that you’ve worked on to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with a little about why you like these projects and what you find fascinating about the processes involved in each one, plus your salary or day rate expectations. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.
Barclays wanted to mark the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci with a modern evolution of his celebrated “Vitruvian Man“, showing how technology might enhance different parts of the human body.
We created the image in full CGI, in collaboration with photographer Andy Glass.
Appropriately for the subject matter, we started with sketches. Pen and pencil remains as perfect for quick visualisation and prototyping as it was 500 years ago. We put together sketches inspired by existing technology in biotech and visualising futuristic enhancements. Pencil drawings made it easy to react to feedback as we worked with the clients to refine the designs.
The individual parts come together to make the classic “Vitruvian Man” diagram
The CGI team then built the image from scratch, following the concepts and design from our sketches. The most challenging part of the process was keeping the classic design instantly recognisable and coherent, whilst working on the detail of each component and making the whole image both believably realistic and compellingly futuristic
Once all the pieces were fitted together in the final design, we modelled and lighted it, and applied shaders using photographic references to ensure a solid feel to the materials. A circular platform and illuminated neon square completed the iconic image.
See the whole process here: Making of “Vitruvian Man” for Barclays Private Finance
The image was used for an exclusive wraparound for the Canary Wharf delivery of the Financial Times, and as a poster.
Client: Barclays Private Bank
Photographic & Creative Direction: Andy Glass
Creatives: Dave Anderson, Richard Barrett, Ian Brassett, James Manning, Giles Montgomery, Jon Morgan
Art Buyer: Lesley Scott
Concept Design: Kristian Turner / Recom Farmhouse
CGI Artists: Alex Bowen, Carlos Pecino, Anna Toropova, Kristian Turner / Recom Farmhouse
Post Artists: Aljaz Bezjak, Kate Brown / Recom Farmhouse