‘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!
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
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
“The ethereal elements of light, colour and haze transmit feelings and emotions. This has been a great project to experiment with the translation of these emotions from the normally more sterile environment of CGI” – Alessandra Kila
The artist brings her unique creative vision to the new BMW 7 series, in a campaign driven by light. Inspired by exhibition spaces where light interacts with installations to become part of the work, she intersected the sculptural forms of the car with the angular shapes of sharply cut sunbeams, laser curtains and light screens – innovative imagery to reveal the lines of a visionary vehicle.
Originally developed from a creative partnership with the BMW design department, Recom Farmhouse London collaborated intensively with the artist to realise her vision in pure CGI.
Simulating light in volumetric space is challenging enough, and quick previewing of iterations fast enough as to not inhibit the creative process raises further issues. In order to deliver such ambitious images, we developed an intricate technical framework within the CGI software. This custom lighting rig can abstract the visual effect of using a fully physical lighting simulation, but render in a fraction of the time, allowing creative freedom and experimentation. For the final rendering we used the fully physical lighting model for accuracy and photorealism. Take a look behind the scenes here:
The team called on Alessandra’s strong experience with still life art photography to set up varied and subtle lighting for depth and believability in the car and environment. A myriad of tiny details, such as effects of bleeding and darkening, give a natural look, along with elements of photographed neon tubes and illuminated screens. Further lighting directed the balance of warmth and cold in the images.
To create the required atmosphere, she drew on her ongoing exploration of the use of haze to soften light. Here, the haziness carries the light and colour that are central to the project.
We introduced dust to give a liquid silkiness to the light. Algorithms that mimic the movement of particles create a heightened atmosphere of dusty air moving in warm light.
Colour was a vital part of this project so the post artists hand tinted the lightwaves being carried through the haze in tonalities of greens, aqua and gold. By literally mixing the colours directly with their virtual paint brushes, they painted the light with the colours of the campaign.
As the car slices through angled laser beams and sheets of pouring light, there’s a tactile and almost synaesthetic quality to the images. The interior shots in particular are hugely innovative: re-imagined as a magical space where anything could happen, and brought to life with light beaming in.
Creative Supervision BMW: Florian Hartmann
Creative Direction BMW Group Design: Julia Obermeyer
Concept & Art Direction: Alessandra Kila
CGI Artists: Kristian Turner, Carlos Pecino, Anna Toropova / Recom Farmhouse
Post Artists: Pepê Alram, Kate Brown, Riikka Eiro, Maria Luisa Calosso / Recom Farmhouse
Julia Fullerton-Batten has been working on an ongoing series called “Old Father Thames “…choosing, investigating and photographing a selection of cultural and historical narratives from along its banks.”
For this particular image, she asked us to flood the Tate with water.
“My image captures the aftermath of the flood in the Tate Gallery when a massive wet painting was carried by a group of porters to safety…Miraculously, despite their immersion in muddy Thames water for several hours, only eighteen paintings were damaged beyond repair.”
Here’s a photo of the original event from 1928:
Our retouchers Riikka Eiro and Maria Calosso joined the photographer on set at the Tate Britain (which was only available at night) to see what would need to be done, to absorb the feeling and lighting of the room, and to take the thousands of photos to produce an accurate photoscan. This would be used for the reflections of the water, as a very high level of verisimilitude would be vital to conveying the shock of seeing such an iconic room flooded.
Take a look behind the scenes of the shoot in Julia’s film:
The CGI and retouching had to be worked on simultaneously, as the image had to be composited and graded before the water was added, to allow for accuracy in the reflections and adjustments for the overall look.
We modelled a simplified interior of the room from our photoscans and then camera matched so that the distance and perspective we would use for the water would match the rest of the image as we were compositing.Kristian Turner, head of CGI, worked out the angles within a simplified geometry of the room, and then used that as a camera to project the reflections of this into the water.
Next, we made a basic geometry so that we had the depth in areas where the people intersected with the water. The rest of the bodies were only needed in 2d, for reflections, composited as ‘cards’.
To create the height and pattern of waves created by the people moving in a room,we searched for reference on the internet – news photos of floods were a good source. We looked at the way that water moves inside a building and also at what happens when people interact with the water – how their movement as they slosh around inside a room creates ripples and turbulence. It’s possible to map exactly how this would actually look via simulation – but we needed greater artistic control for the right effect.
It’s of huge importance to this project as a body of work that the water is believable as being from the Thames. We used volumetric rendering – normally used for mist and smoke – to add opacity in a realistic way, working with reference photos and our own observations of the river.In reality the water would have had much more debris. For the image it was important that it retained a river-water look, and that the parquet floor, so familiar to visitors of the Tate, was visible faintly below the water, distorted by the ripples.
Each person’s interaction with the water was individually mapped, such as the movement of the water around their legs. Wet splashes on their clothes were added with retouching.
The shoot was actually done at night, so we added daylight to the room. The figures were all shot with a softbox flash, and we softened them further for a painterly feel. With painstaking care, we removed all signs of modernity in the room – light switches, alarms, cables and so on, and carefully fine-tuned the colours in the image to reflect the volume of muddy water in the room.
See how we did it stage by stage here:
Final image here:
The final, graded image reflects all the hard work…when the Tate posted it on their Twitter feed on a rainy day, people asked if it was a real picture. We’ll take the compliment 🙂
#TateWeather Did you get caught out in the rain this bank holiday? 🌧️ This photo imagines Tate Britain in January 1928 following a flood of the River Thames. Julia Fullerton-Batten, 1928 Flooding of the Tate Gallery 2018, taken from Old Father Thames series. @FullertonBattenpic.twitter.com/EDbQtvNQUf
Digital Operator: Gideon Marshall
Assistants: Sebastian Niespialowski, Ken Street, Jason Lewis
Work Experience: Matt Darlington, Jo Cock, Jamie Buckle
Models: Alan Byrch, David Newton, Martin Reines, John Lauri, Paul Orchard, Frank Gordon, Peter Charlton, Christophe Philipps
Stylist: Graham Cruz
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.
Inexplicably a few brave retouchers lived through the night at the Recom Fearhouse forest cabin last Halloween, and the shaken survivors climb back into the veneer-sided station wagon for the next instalment. Escaping the woods, they arrive in a lonely town at dusk…
What warped levels of darkness are layered and blended with a mask of normality? Will our artists be ready for their “Post” Mortem? Reveal All below….
Peer out from behind the sofa and press play….if you dare.
Dark matters in this dramatic Audi campaign. We created still images in a huge variety of media formats, and also animated cinemagraphs.
From the early bidding stages onwards, our London team was heavily involved in the technical realisation of both still and moving imagery. This was some of the most intense post-production work we’ve been involved with and we are all very proud of the final results with their unique mix of realism and epic style, inspired by movie posters.
The biggest challenge in these shots was that the usual process was reversed. Normally, a car is shot on a location that is as physically similar as possible to the final backplate, and the original plan was photograph the car on the site. However as the Q8 is a completely new Audi model, with only a handful of prototype cars in the world, there wasn’t one available for the shoot in Scotland. So for these images, the backplates had to come first. Ben Stockley started out by capturing cityscapes in Scotland and London which we used to make initial compositions.
With the backplates shot, post artist Pepê Alram joined the photographer and art director Raymond Chan to shoot the cars in the studio with the initial background compositions projected onto giant screens. We fine-tuned the process together through constant experimentation with everything from the size of the car to the colour palettes. We refined the look tirelessly, with on-set input from Christoph Bolten, head of Recom Farmhouse London,until we had completely realistic reflections in the sheet metal and had captured the filmic quality we were after.
In our London studio, post artists Kate Brown and Pepê Alram worked alongside Ben & Raymond to meticulously piece the puzzle together by merging studio and background shots. CGI elements replaced outdated model parts, we added a wet road, layers of rain, lens flares and other foreground elements. The reflections were eventually reduced for a more subtle and natural feel, retaining the perfect placement that we worked on so carefully.
The still images:
At all points of the process, we had considered how these images would work with their added motion elements. The final piece of work was to fine tune the looping animations and bring three atmospheric cinemagraphs to life – a rainy night, lightning flickering around a foggy bridge, and a sparkling cityscape under racing clouds.
Behind The Scenes
See how the layers build up to create the ambience of a cool and rainy city evening in our making-of here:
The campaign is currently on display on digital billboards across the UK.
Sling your surfboard into the pickup and join us on location for our ten day shoot travelling across Oregon’s beaches, forests, deserts and mountains. We worked with John Roe and GTB on the launch campaign of the Ford Ranger, marking its return to the US market after seven years.
We had a Ford Ranger brought in from Australia with the same dimensions and wheel base as the new Ford Ranger, which we would later create in CGI for the final images. This helped greatly for lining up shots, and for the talent to interact with – especially for loading and unloading surfboards, bikes and so on. We had every kind of weather imaginable – sun, snow, rain and wind but thanks to the Lizard’s super fast capture, we were able to work quickly, even in the shortest windows of sunshine.
See how this shot was created in our “Making of” video here:
Next was a beach location. The photographer would first shoot the image with the stand-in truck. Then we would move the truck out of view and shoot clean backplates. In this way we could easily add the new CGI truck, and composite the talent back into the final image.
On set in a contrasting location – a very cold morning as we shoot the truck in the snow. With the truck driven away, Richard sets up the Lizard to capture a spectacular mountain backdrop.
While we were on the shoot, we talked about how it would be fun to put Bigfoot into one of the images, and we put him into a shot as a surprise for the client in the presentation. They loved it! So a couple of “Easter Eggs” made it into the final images and can be seen on the Ford site ..see if you can spot Bigfoot and Nessie! North American Product Communications Manager at Ford, Mike Levine, referenced them for people to find on his Twitter account here:
This was a fun shoot with a great bunch of people. We couldn’t resist setting up the Lizard for a 360 degree group shot. Introducing the Dream Team!
From left to right:
Jason Pachura – Location Manager
Brian Hug – Motorhome
Josh Nagy – Digital Technician
Richard Levene – CGI Supervisor
Phil Treece – DST (Car specialist)
John Kwiecien – Producer
John Roe – Photographer
Dianna Berggren – Production Coordinator
Nathan Garcia – Camera Assistant
Pete Thomas – Camera Assistant
Todd Ruthven – Creative Director
David Nonthaweth – Digital Art Director