Building the perfect stage for the super cool L100 concept car was an exciting task for our Sofia based studio Recom Blacksmith, that also specializes in full CGI environments. The goal was to create a believable salt desert with a very specific mountain range which photographer Uli Heckmann was envisioning.
Starting with a foreground detail and a base pattern, small rocks were scattered to create a more realistic salt lake effect.
Eventually, the patch was used to cover 40 square km which was a breeze using Clarisse. The scene was then optimized and reduced from 28 quadrillion polygons to a mere 4.5 quadrillion.
The next step was adding the water by cutting into the geometry. The position and shape of the glassy, shallow puddles remained flexible to be able to react to feedback from the client.
For the mountain range satellite data came in handy to build and match the photographer’s imagined scenery.
Creative Lead: Uli Heckmann
Coordination: Tim Michel Producer
CGI: Ivo Stanev / Recom Farmhouse
Post Artists: Christian Schemer, Daniel Seiler, Frank Hoppler, Fabian Stehle / Recom Farmhouse
Supervision: Thorsten Jasper Weese / Recom Farmhouse
As Creative Director of Recom Paris, Pepê Alram returns to his French roots to combine Recom’s depth of post-production experience with the distinct spark of magic that always delivers beyond what’s expected. From Brazil, Pepe moved to Recom Farmhouse London, rising rapidly to be the creative lead on flagship retouching projects for clients like BMW, Mercedes, and Bentley.
With passion for any challenge and an eye for quality, he never forgets the main purpose of his career is communication, striving always for a more personal approach, searching out the unique focus of each project with each client, to know just what’s needed to make it shine.
Pepê brings his love of collaboration and challenge to work closely in French creative partnerships both long-standing and new, and to add a touch of Brazilian warmth to the industry here in the bleu blanc rouge.
Combining visual flair and an eye for detail with a personal approach and profound knowledge of the industry, Recom is fired up to build lasting in-depth artistic relationships immersed in the unique environment of the creative industries of Paris.
The aesthetic refinement that French creatives demand is a perfect match with our passion and commitment to those final touches that make all the difference.
Recom’s international studios give us huge, round-the-clock capacity and an incredible depth of talent, united by boundless enthusiasm for visual arts. At the same time, because each studio is small and unique, we keep the distinctive spirit of a boutique operation.
We put a lot of value on strong creative relationships whether it’s photographers, art directors, editors or more unusual creative collaborations. We’re perhaps best known for high end, imaginative and aesthetic automotive work, but we love to stay fresh and creative with a huge variety of projects, for instance in fashion or fine art.
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:
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.
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.
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
That’s how it goes when you have so many cars….over time, some go missing, and eventually one is lost completely.
This is what happened to BMW’s Garmisch concept car from 1970. The Garmisch was designed at the legendary Italian house Bertone, and exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show – its modern lines clearly influenced the design of the first 5 series in 1972.
The original concept car has disappeared, untraceable to this day. Maybe it will turn up as a barn find in fifty years.
But BMW didn’t want to wait that long, and rebuilt the car from the original design documents. The documents were all in black and white, so for colour, they had to consult the car’s original designer: Marcello Gandini, who created iconic sports cars such as the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, and the Lancia Stratos. The car was rebuilt by hand in Turin, in much the same way as the original 50 years ago, and the reborn Garmisch was exhibited at the Concorso d’Eleganza 2019 at Lake Como.
Stefan Milev photographed the Garmisch using this 8 x 10 wooden Deardorff camera from 1948 – the team travelled to locations around Italy’s Piedmont region using mostly Polaroid film on the vintage camera.
On Location (Photos: Speedball Productions)
Vlens Mueller-Feller of Speedball Productions: “During early preparations, images of the (possible) final result will start to appear before one’s eyes, when scouting I already can see the photographer or director saying “this is it, this is the perfect spot” (@put.model.here)… So this spot in the Italian Alps was one of those.” See their Instagram feed for more…
The resulting film images were scanned and graded by our artists in the Stuttgart studio to enhance the colour mood of the series.
Client: BMW Group Photographer: Stefan Milev
Post Artists: Julia Ackermann, Lorenz Edelmann, Thomas Saalfrank / Recom Stuttgart Creative Director: Antje List
Production: Speedball Productions and Pirate Productions
Model: Scott Temple
Photographer’s Agent: Wildfox Running
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Daily Drivers: A peep behind the scenes of a project built on absurdity.
A car is a tool. Its uses range drastically: from everyday tasks like commuting, shopping and school runs, to more exciting functions like self-expression and road trips. And then there’s racing… Race cars are a uniquely specialized end of this spectrum. Their sole purpose is to be fast and light, with creature comforts and road manners thrown out the window all in the name of victory. But at the end of the day, they’re still cars: four wheels, a seat and some pedals.
Daily Drivers Nº 1 : 1999 Toyota GT-One (TS020)
When it comes to getting around the city, most New Yorkers opt for public transportation, because having a car in Manhattan is like trying to paint a mural with a Q-tip. So here — in this alternate and absurdist reality — a few legendary race cars break the boundaries of their purpose.
Daily Drivers Nº 2 : 2003 Bentley Speed 8
In this reality, these retired steeds continue their service. They may not be flat out in Eau Rouge, or spraying gravel off the cliffs of Pikes Peak, but they’re still living, still used, and still loved.
Daily Drivers Nº 3 : 1967 Ferrari 330 P4
Steven Orts of Recom Farmhouse’s New York studio outlined the rough project idea to photographer and amateur racer, Alex Bernstein, who traveled back to his old stomping grounds in New York to brainstorm with the team, scout and shoot in some iconic locations, working his magic to bring this project to life. With his love for motorsports, Alex nailed the angles to capture the city scenes with their obstructions and ambiance, all while still feeling handheld and natural, as if you were walking through the city streets and had just spotted these ridiculously out-of-place machines.
Daily Drivers Nº 4 : 1990 Jaguar XJR-12
All the cars are full CGI. Each model required heavy amounts of refinement, while we retextured and prepped in the studio. With great care and patience, the finer details were added. Dust and grit, scuffs and scrapes, raindrops and reflections all work together to fully immerse these cars into their respective worlds. We captured domes from each location which enabled proper reflections to be brought back into post production. Finally, meticulous colour grading enhanced the light and shade of New York City and integrated the composited images.
Daily Drivers Nº 5 : 1986 Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2
Bold primary colours meet strong abstract shapes in this campaign for Mercedes from Antoni. We travelled with photographer Nick Meek to Calvert Studios, an extraordinary and unique open air car studio in Spain. Enjoy these pictures from behind the scenes:
The dream team – Jorge, Nick, Christoph and Paul.
The final images are used in the deluxe print campaign, and billboards in place in Germany. See them in situ here.
Executive Creative Director: Veit Moeller
Creative Director: Christian Kies, Christopher Hoene
Art Director: Mathias Wilke, Tim Grötzinger
Copywriter: Matti Lietsch, Luca Haeussler
Head of Product Communication Cars Germany: Christine Wolburg
Product Communication Cars Germany: Nancy Weitling
Art Buyer: Valerie Opitz