In a genius move, the photographers and 3D artists switched places at ICOM to make sure the images looked as real as possible. The photographers headed to Chaos Group’s Bulgarian headquarters to learn how to create amazing 3D imagery, while the artists shadowed the photographers and picked up the intricacies of F-Stops and ISOs. “This is one of the reasons we’ve achieved photoreal quality,” says Martin.
There are other advantages to IKEA’s mixed-medium approach. It gives the company an enormous amount of freedom and flexibility. “We could use 3D because we don’t have floor space in the studio, or it could be that we have a 3D artist available and not a photographer. But it could be the opposite – we have something that would be perfect for 3D, but we don’t have an artist available, so we have to do it in the studio.”
It also makes the more practical elements of photography a lot easier. Part of the appeal of the photography is that it lets you know how IKEA’s products will fit into your everyday life, so shots of the steam rising out of a pan of boiling water, with the blue flame of a gas hob underneath, are common.
They’re also a nightmare to photograph. As Martin explains, if you’re using a naked flame, a fire warden must be on set at all times. As the sets aren’t plumbed in, none of the taps or drainage systems work. And the only electricity supply goes to the camera’s flash and studio lighting, so none of the appliances function. Instead, the company uses Chaos Group’s Phoenix FD for 3ds Max to simulate water, steam, and fire – and considerably lowers the dangers on set.