Sci-fi influences are worn proudly on the sleeve of this series for Wallpaper magazine. Thomas Brown was commissioned again for their “Perfect Storm” editorial, in which “elemental forces and industrial strength converge in a whirlwind of high-voltage design”.
Thomas worked with his long term collaborator, the set designer Matt Morris. Together with Cloud and Horse set builders and projectionist Insight Lighting, they created “a dramatic sci-fi world where a weird automated transit system is augmented with external and often extreme natural phenomena.”
Behind the scenes at the warehouse location: Raising and lowering platforms provide unusual viewpoints…and the scissor lifts themselves are incorporated in the set design, whilst projections create different ambiances for each shot
More images behind the scenes, including the construction of the mirrored boxes, from set builders Cloud & Horse here. (Behind the scenes pictures by Alex Davenport)
The final images were published in Wallpaper magazine:
We travelled to Spain with Nick Meek to shoot the new Nissan Juke in a series of elegant architectural settings. For post-production, this involved a wide spectrum of skills – from shooting duplicate cars in order to avoid complex reflections, bringing sunshine to a rainy day, and finally a dramatic day-to-night conversion.
For this shot, the reflections of the structure were too much to be removed in post, so Nick photographed duplicate cars inside and outside the building, Christoph captured additional backplate elements. We had to deal with very mixed weather conditions! The team went out on a boat to shoot the skyline – the cityscape that you see in the shot was puzzled together from many separate shots to get the perfect backplate, evocative of an attractive city without detracting the viewer from the car as the hero of the shot. Join us on location:
Nights are drawing in! After the shoot was completed, Nissan wanted a night-time version of one of the shots. This was a very interesting challenge – moving a very high key image to be ultra low key
The car is a new, special edition model, so the alterations were complex – far beyond just changing the colour. We re-rendered the paint and the interior of the car – only tyres and lights remain from the original model. Using the HDR spheres that we’d produced at the time, we re-rendered the building and environment. The floor was taken from the original (pre-retouching) imagery, so retained its texture and was accurate at night. We replaced the city at skyline at the back with sourced material to make a new nightscape.
The new shot retains the elegant simplicity of composition that is a key part of the original, whilst adding the distinct ambience of a moonlit night.
Frame Magazine assigned photographer Thomas Brown and set designer Andrew Stellitano to create visual interpretations of four themes for their four latest issues – they always work in series for their covers, which they treat as an art project in themselves.
This way of working was an ideal fit for Thomas and Andrew, who enjoy the process of creating a thematically coherent series with colour and abstraction as the central concepts. The only stipulation that Frame made was that the images should be colourful, and there should be an environmental, spatial feel to the images, with architectural depth.
Having worked often together before, they took the initial proposal as a framework but built on it as the work progressed.
One of the most enjoyable parts of this project was the discovery of new ideas to try, as they arose from the initial concepts. It wasn’t all chin-stroking….there was a lot of laughter along the way, as these behind the scenes photos show – enjoy!
Nº 1 of 4: Doubt.
This was inspired by the idea of image as deceptions – thinking about the current geopolitical situation, fake news, the difficulty of knowing what is actually real.
“For the cover of this issue, we created a spatial experience that is all in the mind. The world seems to have flipped on its head, and nothing is as it seems. A tunnel that extends off into the distance is, on close examination, made out of a modular toolkit of materials” — Thomas Brown and Andrew Stellitano
‘Using wood, paper, watercolour, acrylic, glass, organic materials and glycerine, …[they] built a multilayered world that hovers between fantasy and reality. Aptly titled Doubt, it’s their first cover in a series of four’
Exploring the idea of temporality and events such as fashion shows that are hugely involved but fleeting. Flashes in eight different colours captured blocks falling around the static forms.
“Inspired by the speed at which the world is changing, we wanted to create a sculpture that is more than the sum of its parts and that can be captured only as a photograph. With our camera, we compress time.” — Thomas Brown and Andrew Stellitano
“Using stroboscopic lighting in combination with long time exposures the photographer captured moving elements around a static object, creating a feeling of impermanence.” — Frame Magazine
Nº 3 of 4: Environment.
Here, the duo considered the environment in conjunction with illusion and image-making. It’s full of opposites – bringing the outside inside, gravity defying rocks, objectifying the natural and slicing the outside into contained bars in the background.
“We were inspired by a Diane Arbus photograph taken behind the scenes at Disneyland. The image shows huge boulders on wheels against the vast Californian landscape – an artificial backdrop at second sight. It’s a spellbinding scene that puts our expectation of reality into flux. ” — Thomas Brown and Andrew Stellitano
“An outdoor environment that doesn’t play by the normal rules of physics. Rocks become easily transportable objects, and panels function as portals to an alternate reality” — Frame Magazine
Nº 4 of 4: Food.
For the final image, they chose the theme of food. Though it’s ubiquitous, it’s not often an environmental element. The can is revolutionary – its invention changed our relationship to food completely. Its reminiscent of a bitmap, modular, reactive with its simple silver surface which both renders it invisible and responds to the environment around it with reflection and distortion. The shallow water below joins the elements by rising to the right height to make the cans appear to unite, and the projection of Kyoto adds yet another layer of texture and colour.
Shallow water was just below to join elements
“Photography can be a wasteful business, but the contents of all the cans on this issue’s cover were either donated to food banks or turned into amazing corn bread, corn curry and corn fritters. We never want to eat corn again”
“To round off their series of four covers, designed to explore materiality and space [they] … chose food packaging as their medium. Stacked to form primary shapes, the tins create an intriguing landscape.” — Frame Magazine
The ultra-distinctive stylings of Bertone cars are epitomised by the angular Ferrari Rainbow. This astonishing wedge-shaped concept car from 1976 never went into production and the prototype remains concealed in Bertone’s private collection.
Through CGI we set out to bring it into a uniquely imagined world. Clemens began by sketching a deceptively simple series of shapes, exploring balance, colour and volume.
In the Recom Farmhouse London studio, we took Clemens’ initial sketches and began to work with them in CGI, turning the blocked volumes into architectural elements and experimenting with the placement of the car.
Gathering references for the concrete and asphalt. We spent time observing how the materials age, plants, water, sand and other natural forces work on the angular forms of buildings.
.Collaboratively, we created the monuments, making the abstract shapes work intriguingly but believably together. And we incorporated some pre-shot elements from Clemens – for instance, skies and figures.
Working closely at every stage with the photographer, we created the perfect setting and mood for this mysterious supercar. See how the yellow image was built up in this video:
The Mercedes E-Class with Nadav Kander for Antoni – a fascinating project creating an extraordinary car campaign. Strong lines, clear colours and striking textures combine with abstract architecture, surreal volcanic landscapes and of course the sleek refined lines of the flagship convertible.
The concepts contained angular modern architectural elements, contrasting beautifully with rough organic texture of the volcanic rock. Initially the idea was to have a modular set built that could be moved around the platform. However, this had a number of logistical and timing difficulties and so our Berlin team offered to create the elements in CGI instead. We were able to work directly with the art director in the studio to experiment with the utmost flexibility. In this way, we could perfect the shape and angles to match the layouts perfectly before the shoot began, whilst adhering to Nadav Kander’s input of keeping everything as simple as possible.
Testing the layouts and trialling different options:
Scouting for the perfect locations for HDR spheres in the volcanic island landscapes:
After Lanzarote, we took more backplates at this spectacular location on the Spanish coast. This was the view from the infinity pool – if you squint, you can just see Africa.
The crew assemble…
Only the topmost graduates of The Handsome Boy Modelling School can throw a towel off and jump in the pool with such verve and élan…
Our own modelling efforts are less professional.
Still, everyone looks better with a giant yellow head. You can just see the base of the cherrypicker beside the pool, to take the shot from a direct birds-eye view.
High up above in the cherrypicker
Up in the sky for the perfect angle
The Recom poolside cabana is fully equipped! Processing and checking everything will fit together perfectly.
As the car was top secret at the time, it couldn’t be photographed on location, and was shot at a secret platform on a closed set with high security. We lived for a few days in a gilded cage, not leaving the hotel with its three shooting platforms.
This was our work view for the week! We have to confess we much preferred the pool….
Once the car and backplates were safely captured, we began work on putting together the images. We set the car seamlessly in the volcanic landscapes, and refined the textures and shapes of the CGI architecture.
Photographer: Nadav Kander
Creative Director: Tillmann Gossner
Art Director: Patricia Scheder
Art Buyer: Valerie Opitz
Representation: Olivia Gideon Thompson at We Folk
CGI Artists: Sebastian Schierwater / Recom Berlin
Post Artists: Jonathan Clarke, Jonas Disch, Stephanie O’Connor, Jonas Braukmann / Recom Berlin
Marc Trautmann came to us with an idea for a creative collaboration between CGI, photography, and architecture. The astonishing sculpted form of the Lamborghini Aventador would be set in deconstructed architectural elements, inspired by Daniel Libeskind, with both the car and the setting realised entirely in CGI.
“The concept of the personal CGI work was to create power and dynamics by dissolving conventional spatial structures.”
We loved the idea of creating an environment that would mesh perfectly with the extravagantly powerful style of the car, the challenge of making such an impossible setting look believable, and of course the collaboration between three creative disciplines.
1.Sketching out ideas
The first stage is to sketch out the initial concepts – no matter how technological the execution, there’s still nothing like breaking out the sharpies and sketchpads for free experimentation and collaboration in the early stages.
2. Moodboard: structure, architecture, light.
When we are planning a deconstructed architectural enviroment, it’s vital to find reference for the elements so that they are completely convincing. We looked for abstract shattered planes and shards to inspire ideas, but also for reference of how light would move and react between the shapes. And we sought out architecture – both imagined and built – that was close to our vision, to see how it is structured in reality.
3. Architectural session
Marc worked with Franken Architekten to construct and then deconstruct a setting around the car. Originally created in architectural CAD, they were exported as .dwg files for us to work with in Maya.
4. Initial tests with the car
Once the initial concept is drafted, we began to refine the ideas in Maya. We experimented with different directions and angles and light sources within the architectural setting.
Once we were happy with the angles and the placement of the car, we crafted preliminary passes on lighting and mood.
The next stage is to look in detail at the textures of concrete, steel and glass – once again, we make moodboards of real-world examples.
For the detailed observations to make the renders perfectly convincing, we used material references from Marc Trautmann – the concrete floor of his studio had the perfect worn industrial texture we were after.
With the textures in place, we worked with Marc in developing the background further. Together, we sketched out where texture and lighting should be refined and perfected.
6. Last adjustments
We tested colour and mood variants, fine-tuning the lighting and perfecting the dynamism and balance between the structures of the car and of the deconstructed setting. High resolution rendering in Vray shows how the details are coming together here.
7. The final artwork – three images of an extraordinary car in an extraordinary space.
Fly through the modelling and see how we built up the image, in our behind the scenes movie here!
It’s always amazing when someone shows us a new idea in architectural photography.
Norwegian photographer Øystein Sture Aspelund‘s vision of modernist architecture focuses in on details and textures of modern masterpieces, found by searching through Brasilia, Sao Paulo, rural Bulgaria, Valencia, Bratislava and the Italian coast. Infusing them with strong yet delicate tints of sunsets, cyan and rose, the sweeping and beautiful lines are reminiscent of a new colony on another world.
Your imagination can fill in the rest from these precisely observed details….
Clemens Ascher’s latest series “IN THE GARDEN” depicts scenes from an indoor garden complex.
The world he represents appears to be entirely artificial, a plastic utopia carefully designed to deliver happiness and comfort to its inhabitants. The bright and saturated colours in these pictures are seemingly trying to compensate for the void in which these people live.
We have helped our friend Clemens in constructing this dystopian vision by adding some CG elements to his pictures. Together we discussed the set prior to his shoot and we came to the conclusion that models, plastic plants, carpets and placeholders for walls were going to be photographed, whilst windows, final walls and all other architectural elements would be created in CG.
For this site-specific project we were asked by creative director Felipe Nunes Franco to visualise a Renault car breaking through the glass facade of Düsseldorf airport.
Excited by the idea of producing an artwork for a site specific project, a member of our Stuttgart team drove to Düsseldorf for a day to take reference pictures of the actual facade together with the exact measurements of the glass panels. In fact we had to accurately reproduce those dimensions in CG so that the billboard could exactly substitute and replicate the covered area with the car breaking through it.
In our studio in London, our CGI director Kristian Turner started to work on the geometry of the architecture and the car. In order to make the glass shattering into pieces, he found it easier to actually simulate a car crashing against a glass panel. Pepe, our senior retoucher overlaid the cracked glass and flying shards into the final composition.
… and here is the final campaign!
Agency: Publicis Pixel Park
Creative Director: Felipe Nunes Franco
CGI Director: Kristian Turner at Recom Farmhouse
CGI Artist: Kristian Turner at Recom Farmhouse
Post Artist: Pepe Alram at Recom Farmhouse
When we work on automotive images, we are usually asked to render cars into a photographic environment, but with the new Porsche Cayman GT4 it was exactly the opposite: Thomas Strogalski photographed a real car while the location was virtually created by our talented artists in Stuttgart.
Strogalski beautifully shot the car for plenty of different angles and our team, captained by CGI director Thorsten Jasper Weese then designed and modelled the architecture of an underground parking lot to accommodate the cars. We also matched the photographic car to a CGI model in order to render the reflections of the surrounding location onto the shiny yellow varnish. Throughout the project it has been a very close collaboration between Thomas, art director Tim Buchmüller, creative director Norman Henke and us.
Below few more images of the Cayman GT4.
Agency: Kemper Kommmunikation GmbH
Art Director: Tim Buchmüller
Creative Director: Norman Henkel
Photography: Thomas Strogalski
CGI Director: Thorsten Jasper Weese
Post Artists: Nele Ebner, Thomas Fritz, Tobias Scheuerer at Recom
CGI Artist: Ina Bostelmann at Recom