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
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
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