Inspired by the 80s horror movies we love, and particularly by The Evil Dead, we decided it was time for us to star in our own Night of Terror. Of course we’ll need the right vintage of car, complete with wood-effect side panels.
Image one: The Axeman Join us as we willingly enter our own world of fear in the Making-of video!
[vimeo 237740867 w=640 h=360]
Now we’ll drive together from our small-town American home to a cabin in the woods…what could possibly go wrong?
Image 2: The Cabin
We built our movie-inspired sets in CGI using Maya. We were striving for a cinematic feel to the scene, so the environment is all-important – it becomes a character in the story that we’re telling.
With the layout of the shot decided, we added textures, and began work on the lighting.
For lighting direction we found a lot of inspiration from the photographer Gregory Crewdson. The exquisite lighting of his elaborately staged photographs, many of them taken at night, create a mood that connects the viewer to the story he is trying to tell.
We lit and rendered the scene in Vray and rendered volumetric fog for the desired atmospheric effect.
With final adjustments in Photoshop, the scene is set.
What will happen to us here? Will we stay together, sensibly turning our finely tuned monitors into security cameras, and using our Wacom styluses to defend ourselves? Or will we inevitably become separated in the forest? …Stay tuned….
It’s always one of our favourite experiences when someone turns up out of the blue with a really extraordinary project for us to work on – makes our mouse hands itch to start! – and this series, inspired by Dutch and Flemish paintings, was a truly inspiring collaboration.
Jonas Lord explores the culture of victimhood in various metaphorical visuals with staged surreal scenarios. Post Artists Pepê Alram and Maria Calosso at our London studio helped Jonas with the series – this was a great combination, with the team working very smoothly together in a real synchrony of vision and ideas.
Jonas describes the series in his artist statement below:
“The series begins with an image of baby tigers – the symbol of the east – on a chopping board about to be consumed by rapid westernisation”
“It then speeds up with an image of a woman’s body devoured by wolves on a dinner table speaking about consumerist scrutiny of the female form in our culture.”
“In one of the photos, a tied up woman is calmly staring at the camera–she’s chosen to be in the position of an objectified woman. It’s not to victim blame but to comment on how society grooms certain people to consciously take part in their own victimisation.
We desperately snap Instagram pictures of ourselves from the best angles in hopes to be admired which ties us up to the desperate daily dose of admiration.
In this photo, the men are also reduced to faceless stereotypes who turn into animals as they step on the chess board.”
“We desperately try to adhere to whatever beauty standards are on trend, which I explored in the pic with two teenage girls awkwardly posing while shaving their body hair. I juxtaposed them with sheep in the foreground the inspiration for which came from a feminist protest in 1969 where protesters dressed up a sheep as Miss America.” Do retouchers dream of electric sheep?
“Through these visual metaphors I was looking for ways to explore the manifold nature of victimhood. Do we choose to be victims? Are we groomed to be victims?”
We’re delighted that Jonas Lord approached us with his fascinating series and we’re stoked to work with this amazing new talent.
Photographer: Jonas Lord
Post Artists: Pepê Alram, Maria Luisa Calosso, Kate Brown / Recom Farmhouse
Our friend Nick Meek approached our London team with this evocative night shot from Tokyo.
He took it a while ago and always loved it, but kept feeling it needed something extra. He began to wonder what it would look like if the rolling gate was opened – just enough to reveal something special.
Researching vintage cars, he found an unusual and elegant 1970s supercar with a plum paint and golden trim to the scene, and asked us if we could add it to the scene.
Excited about this extraordinary request we reached into our magic bag of CGI tricks, lifted the door and settled on parking this sweet Maserati Bora inside.
After a successful collaboration process, we’re all happy with the atmospheric result.
Red Car, Red Room
We were so happy with how the Maserati turned out that we wanted to work with it some more. A CGI group challenge, themed on “Red Car, Red Room” was the perfect place to take the car out of the garage and reveal it in all its glory. Take a closer look at the exotic and gorgeous Maserati Bora in detail here.
Crop detail of the gold trim:
Chaos Group V-Ray
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.
CGI director Thorsten Jasper Weese and CGI artist Inez Budzyńska in the Stuttgart studio have had some fun playing with a CG hot air balloon. The balloon itself was originally created for another series of images but only featured in the distance. They loved the look of it so much they decided to re-purpose it as the hero in its own little story. They came up with the idea of making it appear in ordinary urban settings as if the shots were taken through a window. They wanted to create a dreamy effect where the ordinary and plausible would be combined with the uncommon and improbable. Read more
This is yet another image we have created in collaboration with photographer Markus Wendler for the series “The Dark Side of Los Angeles” which visually narrates ambiguous stories in downtown LA. The vintage cars appearing in each image are completely created in CG.
For this one we used a classic Chevrolet Camaro. Markus photographed the backplate, whilst we shot the models against a green screen and we then comped them into our CG car.
Below is how we assembled all together.
It is a welcome change of subject for us to work on old and used cars as we need to add lots of extra details which are at the opposite end of the perfect glossy surfaces we are used to work on. So here for example we had to add condensation on the car windows, scratches, dust, rust, worn tyres and finger prints. All details which make a car look real!
We always try to squeeze in personal projects between one commission and the next. When doing them we love to collaborate, especially with photographers! So when Thorsten at Recom thought to build some stunning CG architecture with a CG car, he contacted photographer and mountain loverMichael Schnabel together with architect Fabian Evers. Excited by the idea, they began to look for a spectacular location in the mountains where it would be possible to virtually build the imaginary home of a car obsessed art collector. After viewing and scanning the mountainous landscape via satellite imagery, they travelled to the San Bernardino Pass in the Swiss Alps, located only a few hours away from our Stuttgart studio.
In the planning phase they first looked at a topographic model of a 20 square kilometer part of the pass to plan and start building up the architecture (see screenshot below). In the meantime architect Fabian started producing some elevation plans and drawings for the building.
Topography of the San Bernardino pass.
Elevation Plans made by architect Fabian Evers.
Positioning the architecture in relation to the topography of the pass.
Thorsten, Michael, Fabian and few other members of the crew went to the San Bernardino Pass and spent 3 days there for the shoot. CG artist Johann also took with them the CAD data of the house-model and they started to scout for the precise place where it should be built. They even sent up an octocopter to capture aerial back plates and then when the locations were decided, Thorsten shot HDR Spheres to recreate identical lighting for the 3D model of the architecture and cars.
Michael (on the left) with the crew location scouting.
Michael with previs of the car and architecture.
Sending up the octocopter for bird-eye views.
Thorsten Jasper Weese shooting HDR spheres.
Our well-travelled 3D calibration cube used to match the perspective of the 3D scene with the photographic back-plate.
Discussing shots on location.
Michael Schnabel and assistant during final shoot session.
A selection of viewpoints made by our CG artists before deciding the final camera angle and composition.
For the interior shots, all furniture and props were modelled by the CG Artists or brought in from the 3D database. Stylist Petra Langemeyer also helped our guys to choose some beautiful design objects. It all looks so real!
Photographer: Michael Schnabel
CGI Director: Thorsten Jasper Weese
CGI Artist: Johann Oswald
Post Artists: Fabian Stehle, Jonas Braukmann. Jonas Disch, Thorsten Jasper Weese.
Virtual Architect: Fabian Evers
Octocoper-Support: Etienne Fuchs
Styling: Petra Langemeyer
When we find the time we like to experiment with making full CGI images for our product-based portfolio. In the past we created a full CGI visual for an Estée Lauder product, this time our New York team have produced a Versace perfume bottle. Read more