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.
The crew arrives:
The cars wait for the light under a pitch black sky in the open air studio:
Nick discusses options in the early morning light
Dawn at the studio
First rays of light
Scouting for angles
Christoph on set:
Nick shooting backplates:
The crew in the shade:
White light white heat:
Success! Celebrating a great shoot.
The dream team – Jorge, Nick, Christoph and Paul.
The final images are used in the deluxe print campaign.
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:
[vimeo 330463643 w=640 h=360]
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
This cinematic series gives a new slant to the dramatic play of sunlight in a big city, with strong transitions to long edgy shadows.
Against a backdrop of heritage architecture in Warsaw,the sleek modern neutrals of the car set the scene for its driver – a bold and stylish redheaded individualist.
Recom Farmhouse London collaborated with the photographer to intensify the film noir ambiance. A strong duotone palette led by the rich orange and deep greens of the model infuses with subtler tones into the car and background.
On location in Warsaw, Tomek scouted for locations with interesting light and shadow, no matter how awkward!
Observing the position of the sun, he planned the shoot over time, looking for places where dynamic lines throw the shapes into sharp relief.
For the car, a neutral coloured Volvo was a perfect choice, fitting the overall vision of elegant and modern style with the feeling of heritage in the background.
Amongst the redheaded models cast, Natalia instantly stood out for this shoot, with her striking colouring, purposeful attitude and insouciant style.
Her pierced noseadds a hint of rebelliousness, and Dorota styled her with a gorgeous series of ensembles in green to lay the natural foundations for the palette, to be developed later in post-production.
In discussions with the team in Recom Farmhouse’s London studio, the decision was to evolve these original colours with cooler notes in the darker tones and a strong overall combination of rich warm oranges and deep cool greens.
Post-production also emphasised the strong transitions between shadows and light.
“Being such a noir narrative, we thought that being kinda duotone could be quite fitting. Also, when properly worked on, I think the carpaint could really “sing” with some cyan/green”. – Pepê / Recom Farmhouse London
Enjoy the strong shapes and subtle tone combinations of this series here:
“I’ve always wanted to shoot this car. I love its iconic style and I wanted to shoot it outdoors with a natural look, but a dusky and mysterious sci-fi atmosphere. We wanted to shoot as much as possible during the ‘blue hour’ just after the sun goes down, to enhance the otherworldly feel of the series.”
“I started with finding a guy who owns probably the only Delorean in good condition in Poland.”
We cast for a model and found Monika with her strong look and short crop. Stylist Dorota added a few bold styling accents that would fit in with the eighties ambience without appearing too clichéd.
The location needed to be abstract, monochromatic and above all dry, so that we could generate natural dust – a gravel pit proved to be the perfect choice.
Technically the dust had its own issues to deal with! It’s very difficult to control, with the wind changing directions every minute.
It also meant that we had very limited opportunities to shoot the Delorean with its iconic gullwing doors open, as we couldn’t risk damage to the car.
With the shoot complete, the task of removing every speck of dust for the car begins…
In post-production, Recom Farmhouse developed a faded look with an overall combination of magenta/violet, and yellow/orange hues — again, echoing an eighties palette of early digital and laser colours .
Photography: Tomek Olszowski
Production: Piotr Stefański / Studio Tecza
Model: Monika Rybicka
Stylist: Dorota Magdziarz / @dorota.magdziarz
Make up: Ewelina Mróz
Car: Michał Kraul
Assistants: Dominik Nowak, Adam Gocel, Tomasz Kret, Filip Wyszyński, Maciek Czerniecki
Post Artists: Nuria Segura, Aljaz Bezjak / Recom Farmhouse London
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