Khyzyl Saleem‘s work (@the_kyza) is a high-octane mix of the wildest aspects of car design: evolved from the explosive creativity of gaming, founded in an in-depth knowledge of the realities which is fuelled by his bodykit business, extending those outrageous modifications to real-life cars.
Recom Farmhouse ourselves are always looking for new and energising ways to fuel the possibilities of full CGI. We asked Khyzyl if he could provide one of his models for us to work with. With this model, we would create a detailed virtual studio inspired by Thomas’s references, collaborate on the creation of a series of images in this digital set, and then grade them to perfection.
Thomas’ reference roared and fizzed with energy for us to create his desert art space in an American landscape, an environment liminal in space, time and human intervention. The car would be set as a sculpture, with an elemental quality incorporating ideas of gold, particle collisions, sculpture & precision engineering.
Khyzyl chose a 1989/91 Porsche 944 Turbo KS combined with 2022/23 992 GT3 RS Variant to be the centrepiece of the installation. Thomas’s vision was a car of pure gold in colour: a glossy and perfect mirror finish, an outrageously extravagant paint job, full of interest with the complicated lighting.
In Recom Farmhouse’s London studio, CGI artist Aljaz Bezjak created an outdoor studio in Blender as a setting for the car, complete with supports, rigging and power supply. The site has its own ecology and geology, with scrubby desert plants against a background of far mountains. These small ‘real world’ details are what’s vital in making the environment, grounding the exhilarating fantasy in a believable reality.
“Mesmerisingly beautiful interactions between particles as they collide at high speed sending them spiralling off from their trajectories. The images chart the path of a particle, chance impacts and ultimately how the influence of others can permanently change their course. ”
– Thomas Brown
The images were ‘shot’ in a very reality-based method, according to Thomas’ usual practice. He would choose a lens and ‘walk’ around the environment just as he would in a real studio, selecting viewpoints that are coherent with those limitations. The point of view could almost be that of an art tourist, taking phone pictures of this desert installation for Instagram, but with the quality that only this attention to detail can bring.
” A roadside monument to science, energy, engineering and human creativity. Inspired by phenomena, physics, chemistry, innovation and teenage wonder. The excitement of the Gold Rush, frantic exploration and pioneering in search of fortune and the future.”
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
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.
We loved working with Tomek Olszowski and Bartek Hlawka on this project in set in Croatia, for Mercedes-Benz’s #MBvideocar campaign – the raw power of the car as it roars through the otherworldly setting of a remote island makes for a dynamite short film.Thanks to Tomek for this detailed look behind the scenes of an extraordinary piece of work!
The idea was simple – to create the feel of another world. No trees, no natural green landscapes…we wanted volcanic black sand or rocks, some raw, unearthly and hostile place to be a setting for an insanely extravagant car.
We found the perfect location in a high mountain pass between France and Italy, and sent our concepts to Mercedes, who loved the idea and gave us the green light to use one of their their monster-engined new models – the AMG GT S
However, by this time, our Alpine location was under several unexpected metres of snow….We needed plan B! So we fired up Google Earth and began to explore…
That’s how we found Pag and Rab – two islands in Croatia with spectacular roads to their ferry harbours. They made the perfect choice for our vision: the harbour has lots of free asphalt space, there’s sea water to keep the ground wet, and the traffic is limited because of the ferry schedule.
So I jumped on a plane from Cracow to Stuttgart, picked up the Mercedes AMG GT S model and drove it to Croatia. By the way, the car is awesome – not only a great powerful toy to play with, but also enough comfortable to travel. Very nice experience.
As the November weather was very unpredictable we were worried if we would get any sun in Croatia. The forecast looked strange – on Pag we had a window with great weather – sunny and 18°, but 20 km away on continental Croatia it was snowing and 5°C .
And actually, that was it exactly how it was! I was driving on a Croatian highway at 3 C degrees, in heavy snow, feeling pretty depressed. And right after emerging from the 6 km long Sveti Rok tunnel…the winter was gone. I had full sun and temperature jumped from 3°C to 16°C! How is that even possible? The answer is simple: very strong wind blowing from the sea – and that wind was to cause us problems.
Studio Tecza Production drove from Warsaw to Pag Island in our tech car with all the necessary equipment including cameras, tripods, rigs, lights and grip.
We had a Nikon D800 camera to shoot handheld surrounding shots, plus a PhaseOne XF 100mpx tethered to a computer station. We wanted to shot many rigshots, as I just received my custom built carbon fibre 8m long pole back in Poland. The first day, we were tech scouting the harbour on Pag, preparing the car and planning our schedule according to the sun position.
Next morning in the harbour, we started the shoot early, pumping sea water to make the ground wet. The light was so beautiful that when I saw first shots in CaptureOne I just instantly felt in love. I had wanted to keep a natural feel, and there was literally nothing I could improve. We had lights, flags and other equipment but none of it was needed in these conditions.
We had planned to set up some rigshots on the road as the sun rose higher. Unfortunately, the aforementioned strong wind complicated things. We managed to get only one proper rigshot as the wind was so variable, and when it was blowing we had to wait.
Stills Shoot 2
Next day, we started by shooting the rocky parts.
We had scouted some nice spots where the car would look unexpected and strange, but were still accessible. The wind was so strong we couldn’t even hold the lighting flags, but I was OK with that – the surroundings were beautiful and the natural shots looked still amazing.
We did some panning, and wide landscape shots with the car small in frame as well.Fortunately the wind started to weaken in the afternoon, so we had some time to mount the rig and take another shot. The raw material felt really great. I was proud of my rig gear, it was the first serious test for this equipment. I loved the images produced by the new PhaseOne model, and I wanted the colour to be still more unorthodox and unique. I knew the only guys that would understand were Recom Farmhouse!
Director of Photography Bartek Hlawka and his team had arrived on the first day of shooting stills in their oldie but goodie, Subaru Impreza GT 🙂 This car had a real mission, not only to bring the guys and equipment from Warsaw, but also to take a part of the shoot as a pursuit vehicle. We collaborated closely, discussing everything before each lap up and down the hill.
Photo production showed that the road was almost like a movie set from a zombie apocalypse movie. We saw maybe 3 cars every two hours and it became clear that it would be a lot of fun having a road for ourselves.
We started recce from a drone to get to know all the bends and their surroundings. The weather was windy, so it wasn’t an easy task. After doing almost 100km over a 5km section of the road, we knew every centimeter of it.
Finally we chose the harbour as our starting point for all the shots and also as a location for the final shot.
Our trusted Subaru was very brave on the preproduction day, but the real stuff was to come.
We planned two shooting days for images, and one for audio recording. Next day we arrived at the first location at 5 am and the view was breathtaking. We already knew that we have something special in our hands. After only a few kilometres it became clear that if we wanted to show speed on the screen the only was it to drive… fast.
We drove 700km in total on the spectacular 5km course during two days of pure pleasure! Combined with hard work and a lot of a high-speed driving, it was a filmmaker’s dream come true. The weather was capricious but it gave us an opportunity to shoot in different conditions.
Most of the shots were made on a gimbal attached to a Ditogear Vibrafreek stabilizing arm. We chose a Sony camera to have low light capabilities and combined it with vintage Japanese lenses from the 70s. It gave us a nice analogue feel with a lot of information in the image to do the grading.
After intense two days, we were ready for audio recording. Sound design was always meant to be a huge part of the finished video. We mounted microphones on the exhaust and in the interior, and recorded flybys to have as many options as possible.
With the shooting complete, we moved onto the editing, sound design and colour grading.
Bartek Hlawka edited a first cut and composer Michal “Lieke” wrote a powerful and atmospheric piece of music for it, which inspired the further editing that would tell the story in an interesting way.
Starting with abstract shots of an almost unrecognizable silhouette of the car before dawn, and gradually transitioning to a bright day, we combined all the shots from different weather conditions into a coherent sequence. Then the plan was to overwhelm the viewer with dynamic and dense editing of images and sounds to the point where we felt we had to stop and breathe a little bit…and finally reveal the car and all its magnificently curvilinear design for a few final seconds on the screen.
Lieke completed the atmospheric music and sound design, with the sound of the engine as an integral part of the story.
The colour grading by Christoph at Recom Farmhouse was the final touch, enhancing the feeling of being out of this world and bringing the shots together as a coherent whole. The challenge was to harmonise footage shot in with different lenses, lighting situations, and wildly varying weather conditions. Fine-tuned and polished with painstaking care, the united piece flows flawlessly as a story of a perfect day’s driving from dawn till dusk.”
We spent a week shooting in locations around Italy for Bentley, with photographer Graham Thorp and agency Keko London, updating classic Italian landscape photography to fit with the modern luxury of the new Bentley Continental GTI.
As we started work to create the perfect image above, it was clear that there would be some challenges along the road…photographer Graham Thorp waits for the briefest moment of sunshine. “Let’s shoot in the mountains, they said. The light and views are amazing, they said…”
Creative Director Iain Ross searches for a break in the clouds:
…but after extensive scouting (and a wait for the weather!) we’re up early and waiting for the light:
Awkward positions make for the perfect angle on those twisting mountain roads…
As workspaces go, you can’t complain:
That perfect low light for shooting needs some work for the post-production environment…
Talk to the monitor!
Beautiful sunset light on a perfectly curving stretch of road…
Setting up in the early morning – classic Tuscany landscapes:
Burning the midnight oil by the pool:
Some of the final results in print, in Harper’s Bazaar:
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:
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.
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.
Ukranian duo Tania Shcheglova & Roman Noven work under the name Synchrodogs.
Using strictly film cameras “with different levels of crappyness” they create dreamlike and hauntingly beautiful visions with almost no retouching. Central to the work is their own nude bodies in expansive landscapes, with a constant stream of details, abstracts, patterns (and just whatever catches their eye) as accompanying wildcards.
Although they’re determinedly lo-fi artists, working with props, body paint and whatever chance provides, they’re already looking at a future direction in VR art. It will be fascinating to see what their agnostic creative force might bring to a new medium.