The i3S is the sportier brother of BMW’s electric compact car. For the launch, BMW wanted a strong real-life feeling – as if passers by had taken some snapshots. Shot over eight days in the streets of San Francisco, Andreas Hempel used natural light in urban situations, using a current model as a stand-in.
With the plan being to use as much natural light as possible, the preparation day started out rather worryingly…
However the next morning was much improved and the team assembles for the first shot:
Timelapse of setting up a shot:
Lunch break, San Francisco style
As each first day’s shooting is complete, with on-set support from our Stuttgart team, we prepare to work our magic!
Reference photos for wheel reflections.
More high-speed work
Getting on the the low down for the perfect angle…
A complex setup to capture a spontaneous moment…
Setting up the shot, preparing for the moment when the light is at the perfect angle
And – there it is! We swapped in almost the entire front plus a few other distinctive parts of the new model in CGI, and intensified the dark, shadowy look. See the full series on our site here
Photographer: Andreas Hempel
Creative Directors: Jan Grothklags, Falk Pegelow, Mark Räke
Art Director: Christine Behrendt
CGI Artist: Andreas A. Maurer / Recom Farmhouse
Post Artists: Jonas Disch, Laura Kißner / Recom Farmhouse
Inspired by the 80s horror movies we love, and particularly by The Evil Dead, we decided it was time for us to star in our own Night of Terror. Of course we’ll need the right vintage of car, complete with wood-effect side panels.
Image one: The Axeman Join us as we willingly enter our own world of fear in the Making-of video!
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Now we’ll drive together from our small-town American home to a cabin in the woods…what could possibly go wrong?
Image 2: The Cabin
We built our movie-inspired sets in CGI using Maya. We were striving for a cinematic feel to the scene, so the environment is all-important – it becomes a character in the story that we’re telling.
With the layout of the shot decided, we added textures, and began work on the lighting.
For lighting direction we found a lot of inspiration from the photographer Gregory Crewdson. The exquisite lighting of his elaborately staged photographs, many of them taken at night, create a mood that connects the viewer to the story he is trying to tell.
We lit and rendered the scene in Vray and rendered volumetric fog for the desired atmospheric effect.
With final adjustments in Photoshop, the scene is set.
What will happen to us here? Will we stay together, sensibly turning our finely tuned monitors into security cameras, and using our Wacom styluses to defend ourselves? Or will we inevitably become separated in the forest? …Stay tuned….
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.