After his work with the musician in a studio the photographer asked us to add a specific Manhattan skyline view as a background.
Sandro suggested the perfect place – a rooftop bar with spectacular views. Our New York team organised the permit and set out to shoot the night time scene. As the location did not allow the use of tripods we had to shoot at a high ISO setting, but by stitching together many exposures we were able to make a handheld ultra high resolution panorama.
The initial stitched panorama:
Our studio in London created the piano, room elements and flooring in CGI and merged them skilfully and seamlessly with the panorama and the portrait to create an atmospheric night-time cityscape.
See how the image was built up in the Making-Of video here:
The final campaign image with added product photography, as used on billboards and in magazines worldwide.
Here are three photographers whose landscape work we’ve enjoyed recently for its originality and unusual approach…
In Northern Japan, Arito Nishiki photographs the wild weather on this ever-changing coast, capturing the vivid movement and the winter darkness. This series is named after a village that slipped into the sea due to the relentless erosion from the force of nature. Immerse yourself in his world here.
“Grow Up” is the most extensive content creation in Mercedes-Benz’s history. Produced by Antoni, it’s a groundbreaking campaign centred around five short films. With young stars like rapper A$AP Rocky, the films tell a story that completely revolutionises the image of Mercedes-Benz, with the car becoming a natural ally for millennials in their journey to adulthood.
“Our competition isn’t ads, they’re real films, real TV shows. Stealing four minutes from the time people would be watching their favourite show on Netflix is a tall order, so we tried to be honest with ourselves with what people might actually be interested in.” – Veit Moller, Creative Director (LBB editorial interview)
For the accompanying stills, we worked closely with CD Veit Moeller and young photographer Alice Moitié – printing and re-scanning, adding grain to create a strongly analogue film look, with CGI elements helping with the practical aspects of a worldwide campaign.
The campaign’s media locations are as bold and eyecatching as the rest of the execution, with colossal end-of-wall murals featuring single shots montages from the campaign, and big bold statement cubes in high traffic areas.
The shots were also a big success across digital media, showcased on the innovative website and shared widely on social networks.
The campaign has drawn wide praise for its radical approach
“Mercedes-Benz’s Most Ambitious Marketing Project Yet Is All About What It Means to Grow Up Tackling the evolution of luxury … and, well, life” – Adweek (Ad of the Day)
“It’s hard to make a good car ad these days. Audiences are bored of the slick fare they are usually offered, and yet most clients still really, really want that shot of the beautiful new vehicle driving around the cliff edge. In this new set of films, those scenic shots are there …nestled in among a set of stories that are intriguing, and at times a little darn bleak….These new films make a welcome addition to the car-ad-as-short-film genre and sure beat the average shiny car spot.” – Creative Review
Client: Mercedes Benz
Creative Director: Veit Moeller
Photographer: Alice Moitié
Post Artists: Jonas Braukmann, Thomas Saalfrank, Julia Ackermann, Daniel Mattes, June Lee, Stephanie O’Connor / Recom Farmhouse
Art Buyers: Emanuel Mugrauer, Valerie Opitz, Marjorie Jorrot
Production: Iconoclast Germany
It’s always one of our favourite experiences when someone turns up out of the blue with a really extraordinary project for us to work on – makes our mouse hands itch to start! – and this series, inspired by Dutch and Flemish paintings, was a truly inspiring collaboration.
Jonas Lord explores the culture of victimhood in various metaphorical visuals with staged surreal scenarios. Post Artists Pepê Alram and Maria Calosso at our London studio helped Jonas with the series – this was a great combination, with the team working very smoothly together in a real synchrony of vision and ideas.
Jonas describes the series in his artist statement below:
“The series begins with an image of baby tigers – the symbol of the east – on a chopping board about to be consumed by rapid westernisation”
“It then speeds up with an image of a woman’s body devoured by wolves on a dinner table speaking about consumerist scrutiny of the female form in our culture.”
“In one of the photos, a tied up woman is calmly staring at the camera–she’s chosen to be in the position of an objectified woman. It’s not to victim blame but to comment on how society grooms certain people to consciously take part in their own victimisation.
We desperately snap Instagram pictures of ourselves from the best angles in hopes to be admired which ties us up to the desperate daily dose of admiration.
In this photo, the men are also reduced to faceless stereotypes who turn into animals as they step on the chess board.”
“We desperately try to adhere to whatever beauty standards are on trend, which I explored in the pic with two teenage girls awkwardly posing while shaving their body hair. I juxtaposed them with sheep in the foreground the inspiration for which came from a feminist protest in 1969 where protesters dressed up a sheep as Miss America.” Do retouchers dream of electric sheep?
“Through these visual metaphors I was looking for ways to explore the manifold nature of victimhood. Do we choose to be victims? Are we groomed to be victims?”
We’re delighted that Jonas Lord approached us with his fascinating series and we’re stoked to work with this amazing new talent.
Photographer: Jonas Lord
Post Artists: Pepê Alram, Maria Luisa Calosso, Kate Brown / Recom Farmhouse
Our friend Nick Meek approached our London team with this evocative night shot from Tokyo.
He took it a while ago and always loved it, but kept feeling it needed something extra. He began to wonder what it would look like if the rolling gate was opened – just enough to reveal something special.
Researching vintage cars, he found an unusual and elegant 1970s supercar with a plum paint and golden trim to the scene, and asked us if we could add it to the scene.
Excited about this extraordinary request we reached into our magic bag of CGI tricks, lifted the door and settled on parking this sweet Maserati Bora inside.
After a successful collaboration process, we’re all happy with the atmospheric result.
Red Car, Red Room
We were so happy with how the Maserati turned out that we wanted to work with it some more. A CGI group challenge, themed on “Red Car, Red Room” was the perfect place to take the car out of the garage and reveal it in all its glory. Take a closer look at the exotic and gorgeous Maserati Bora in detail here.
Crop detail of the gold trim:
Chaos Group V-Ray
Here’s a look into how we made it. There’s a selection of 100% crops to zoom in on the details, and a video where you can feast your eyes on the perfectly rendered raindrops on the CGI Porsche.
We used Autodesk VRED to make the car. This execution, with its intricate raindrops, was particularly interesting. The finished image (above) is packed with finely observed details.
As always, the CGI process is grounded in observations of reality. CGI artist Ivo Stanev spent time studying the interaction between the raindrops and the surface of the car. The water acts like hundreds of tiny lenses and we found the best way to light them was to use high resolution HDRI spheres.
Due to their hemisphere shape, formed as the round drops hit a flat surface, the raindrops catch light from the many sources in a night scene like this- street lamps, headlights, windows and so on. This is what makes them sparkle.
To do this, we used high-resolution rain textures with displacement mapping. However, because we wanted to be flexible it was important to react quickly to changes, so we used both triplanar and UV mapping (the process of projecting a 2D image to a 3D model’s surface for texture mapping )
Working with triplanar mapping gives us flexibility because we can easily change the form of the raindrops, especially as the CGI modelled Porsche has High Density Geometry. A good example is the windshield, where UV mapping allowed is to model windscreen wipers with a specific movement. For the rest of the car we used triplanar mapping for flexibility.
It was important for us to show the effect of the wind, changing the shape of the raindrops as they move along the surface of the car’s body.
Also some elements are not as simple to add as you might imagine! We wanted moving, blurred windscreen wipers of course…so we carefully painted where and how the raindrops moved, depending on the motion of the windscreen wipers.
The rendering took a lot of time as well – we used full Global Illumination with a lot of samples…and of course only one HDRI sphere wasn’t enough, so we had to use two or three of them.
We are really pleased with the end result – the painstaking work paid off beautifully.
Fly though the details in our video here…
Client: Porsche Agency: Kemper Kommmunikation Photographer: Erik Chmil Creative Director: Nadine Kubis Post-Artist: Thomas Fritz / Recom Stuttgart CGI Artist: Eugen Albrandt / Recom Stuttgart CGI Artist: Ivo Stanev / Recom Stuttgart
We were delighted to work once again on the post-production throughout the shoot, both on location and in the studio.
This was a shoot of epic proportions!
27 major exterior shots
50 detail shots
6 different models
Crew of 18
The Southern California locations included urban LA environments, desert highways, bridges, as well as an airport and a racetrack. With one of our retouchers constantly on set, we were able to jump start the post production. First pass amends could be in place before sending files to the agency, with feedback from Nick and the clients on set already incorporated.
The production convoy sets off to the desert:
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The car travels in the finest style of course.
Gear and preparation:
Nick’s camera mounted to the end of the rig and ready to shoot.
So many measures to work against the fierce desert sun! This flexible arm keeps the camera in shade and and can also be used to block flare.
It’s a long walk back once the rig is set up – this is at its maximum extension.
The captures go directly to Kate’s workstation. We use walkie-talkies to keep in touch, so post-production can begin smoothly and directly from the image capture.
This exterior station is a convenient direct point for the client signing off elements such as the angle of the car. Left to right: CD Doug Kohnen of CP+B, Kara Hughes of Infiniti, Nick Meek.
Nick inspects some images in the workstation.
At other locations, a smaller portable sun shelter is useful.
Nick goes handheld and low angle for detail shots.
Setting up the ‘Lizard‘ to capture HDR spheres for reference, so we have a full record of the background in case of any later alterations – this means that if we need to change any details we have an accurate record for reflections and lighting on the car.
Capturing some city skyscrapers with the Lizard for use as backup for the city location, in case they were needed.
Life on the set
Tunnel vision can set in on these long shoots…
But the epic skies and open desert are stunning.
Hats are a necessity when working long hours in the blasting desert sunshine.
Clouds drift by as we wait for the perfect light
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Even in the desert, the production team have to be vigilant – when the weather comes in, it happens fast! Approaching storms mean everything has to go under cover at very short notice.
Here it comes!
However the show must go on – no storm can stop Nick from continuing to work! Even in these conditions, he was able to capture great results. These were the shooting conditions:
…and this is the final result!
The precipitation did have some unexpected and spectacular side effects…
In between all the hard work during these long days on the road there were always moments of fun, where we got to play with an array of toys the crew had brought along (e-skateboards, mini motorcycle, remote controlled cars etc), and as we were being baked by the hot desert sun, we got to listen to some fine tunes by the motorhome band, while being spoiled by some amazing catered foods – Many thanks to Will Taylor of Ink and Oranges for their work on production!
Recom kept standards high with Kate coming first in her Go-Kart team.
The rig came in handy as a gigantic “selfie stick” to capture the crew, though no cable release was long enough to operate the camera!
All in all a very productive and delightful job. It was great to work once again with Nick Meek, the production was a big success and the same team is currently in the US working on the next Infiniti project.
In this compelling and haunting self-portrait, J. Konrad Schmidt strips away all concealment of a medical condition he has had from childhood, and uses it to make a powerfuly revealing piece of art, inviting the viewer quite literally into his head.
Go behind the scenes with us for the background, technical details, process, creative stages, close-up crops, installation and artist statement of this extraordinary project.
J. Konrad Schmidt is widely acclaimed for his sensuous female portraits, and especially for his work with unusual analogue formats and materials, such as ambrotypes.
He approached us about a collaboration for an upcoming exhibition for the BFF – a well known network of high class photographers, based mainly in Germany. The exhibition’s theme was ‘Reduction’.
Using his concepts of beauty and analogue processes, he wanted to interpret this theme of ‘Reduction’ in a wholly unexpected and very personal direction, questioning these ideas of elegance and perfection by the use of his own facial structure in the work.
“The picture reduces me to my illness… created from parts of my x-rays, which were made in the deep sleep of anaesthesia.”
Since he was born, he has had a medical condition that haunted him, a vascular disease that affects his left ear and cheek, in which the blood vessels grow uncontrollably.
It has an effect on his public persona – in most portraits for interviews, or videos, you’ll notice he sits with his right ear to the camera.
This full face portrait was made specifically for this project.
Because of his disease, he has to go to the hospital at regular intervals. Since there’s only one hospital in Germany that performs these treatments, the place and the doctors have become a part of his life. He is always under full anaesthetic for the procedure, and the entire process is recorded with X-rays.
Using these X-rays, he wanted to rebuild his face for this project.
“I am contradictory to my disability. Now I am the error in the system. The devil’s civilian. Resilient, eloquent and radical with itself.
Before the fall of the Berlin wall, my worried mother took me from doctor to doctor in Eastern Germany. After the Unification, across the united republic. At the age of 10, I began an endless tour through cold operating rooms at the Klinikum Benjamin Franklin in Berlin-Steglitz.
This is why I am showing this work under this title now in this city.
Together with Recom Berlin, I used digital image manipulation for a truer purpose – to create a striking image, not to strike an image by manipulating it.”
• Mood Boards
We collaborated together on moodboards to begin work on the overall feel of the piece.
Getting hold of the images was a tricky process. The X-rays were in a medical format, JiveX, embedded into a .exe file, burned on a CD.
It’s intended only for the use of doctors, so the controls are designed for their needs. Dragging the mouse up and down and right to left gives you basic contrast and brightness functions. Despite (or perhaps because of) this unadorned functionality, the output and interface has its own aesthetic interest.
The only exportable file format is a PDF. So that’s what we did. Each of those thirty-three PDFs had between four and forty-four pages.
So often, there’s something new to discover in every project : – )
“You can’t open more than 400 documents in Photoshop. I didn’t know that, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen this message.” Jonas Braukmann, Recom Berlin
This video shows all pages from all pdfs exported into PSDs via a script, giving us four hundred and four images to work with.
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Cycling through all the exported files, this video shows clearly the progress of the injected X-ray viewing agent is injected, as it spreads into all the vessels that have grown out of control.
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• Stages in creation of the image
We talked a lot on the phone, about the moodboards and what we had in mind, and this was the first draft, to see if the idea could work. Version 1:
We were both immediately very happy with the first draft, but wanted to try further explorations of the idea. We decided to enhance his characteristics…the hairline, strong eyebrows and his ear and cheek.
We also tried a more dimensional version, incorporating more of the portrait. Version 3:
Konrad liked the initial draft best, and was thinking about what what should come next, showing it to friends and family. Meanwhile, we made made a rawer version, by stripping away all the hair details.
We ended up using the very first version – sometimes things just fall into place straight way.
The first version already told the story, and showed what we wanted to show.
Everything in this version is made from the X-rays, stratified and superimposed to create Konrad’s face, emerging from these medical records. Only the light in his pupils is from a photograph.
We included some lines and technical artefacts from the original X-ray files, to preserve a reference to their origin – a contrast to the soft and convoluted organic forms with their precision and linearity.
The probing intrusion of the injection shows clearly, too – this is what enables the doctors to see inside Konrad’s head.
Detail of the pupil highlight, the only part which isn’t shaped from the X-rays
We scoured Ebay for a lightbox of the right size and appearance, to keep the reference to X-ray transparency display – a feeling of faintly institutional immediacy, as if you yourself were looking at them held up in a doctor’s surgery. The doctors who provided the material for the project found it fascinating to see.
The final presentation was at the Reduction exhibition in Berlin, part of European Month of Photography.
These, like all the quotes here, are extracts from a translation of the text which is printed and displayed beside the transparency. The full text in German is available on J Konrad Schmidt’s site here.
“Reducing people to their disease – no matter what kind – is discrimination. …With me, people dare to say:
“I have to ask you something?”
“No, you do not! Because I know the question already! ”
– And then: Totally surprised faces …
If total strangers would simply say nothing, it would help a lot. Then I would not have to speak out here. So you beloved anonymous Philanthropists out there – this is for you”
Volume of Light is an innovative and interactive project, created in the studio by our friend and regular collaborator Thomas Brown. Beginning as a small series, it extended in scope to become a four year mission.
In an intriguing new approach to the way art is marketed, an online campaign encouraged people to adopt one of 469 images. We adopted image № G_150204_0097 – Just been thinking.
As an adopter, you receive the book which is a directory of all the images. The book comes with a print of your adopted image, which is a limited edition of one, just for you. Each image is also shared on Instagram and Twitter with its newly bestowed name.
The project culminated with exhibitions in London and New York, and the recently published book.
It’s a beautiful object, with iridescent cover and rainbow foiled type – the video shows the lovely textures and colours.
“The assigned titles will forever be linked to the image. Volume of Light wants to know what you see, how you see it and begin to understand why certain choices are made. It is an exploration and investigation of semiotics, the phenomenon of Pareidolia and authorship….Each image represents the record of an action, a passage of time and a movement of light…In their abstraction they represent no thing but leave space to become everything.”
“I can’t say VoL offers a new way of experiencing art…people are visually assessing the world every second of the day, but maybe for some people it causes them to think a little bit more about what they were looking at, or to reflect on their experience of looking. It certainly offered an interesting way to interact at the exhibitions.”
With all the images on display as small postcards the viewers were encouraged to take them from the wall to get a closer look and move through the space, breaking the conventional gallery environment.