Photography series lets CG bash up vintage cars

A series of images by CGI specialist Recom Farmhouse and photographer Markus Wendler places vintage cars in some of Los Angeles’ less desirable neighbourhoods, conjuring some striking images

A series of images by CGI specialist Recom Farmhouse and photographer Markus Wendler places vintage cars in some of Los Angeles’ less desirable neighbourhoods, conjuring some striking images. The project is a self-initiated, collaborative venture between Recom Farmhouse and Wendler, who have worked on a number of commercial projects together in the past.

Wendler had already shot some nighttime images of LA as a starting point, and after a bit of creative to-and-fro, Wendler and Recom decided to use vintage cars in “sketchy areas in and around LA, that are not just placed in an advertising style angle, but would rather tell a story – or pose questions as it’s never going to be clear what is actually happening”, according to Recom Farmhouse creative director Christoph Bolten.

Creating aged, damaged and dirty cars completely through CG was an attractive challenge for the company, as automotive CGI is one of its niches of expertise. “The next thing that was really exciting, was that these were not going to be classic advertising images, but had a much more realistic and narrative approach,” adds Bolten. “Something that from the beginning was offering the possibility to create something ambiguous and magical.”

Top and above: Two final images from an ongoing project created by photographer Markus Wendler and CGI specialist Recom Farmhouse

Having come up with the idea last summer, Wendler shot more material in situ in LA, before the CG modelling began, with Recom Farmhouse fitting the research and work between commercial projects. Bolten is always keen to have such research and development projects on the go – they are all about “pushing the boundaries”, he says. “Also, for the CGI artists it’s a lot more fun to work on projects like that; they love the freedom of playing a little and not having a client breathing down their neck.”

The process for creating the series included many stages, from initially modelling a scene and planning different crash scenarios, to extensive research of imagery of similar crash scenarios, sketching the form of cars, and sculpting creases and dents (see process images below).

Creating realistic effects for various automotive states of ageing – dented metal, shattered windscreens, dusty metal with fingerprints, rusted medal, skid marks, or smoking tires – was particularly challenging, all-in-all “quite time intensive”, says Bolten.

Wendler and Recom Farmhouse are still finalising the series, but are hoping to exhibit the images in the near future. As Bolten says: “These images are really about being printed very large as they have so many mysterious little details going on in them.”

The Recom Farmhouse project above also features in the current issue of CR. Unfortunately, an image on page 29 of the magazine was wrongly credited as being part of the project. It was, in fact, an unconnected image used merely for reference in the making of the project and was not taken by Markus Wendler as stated. Our apologies for the error.

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