That’s a race scene from 1937, isn’t it?
What happens when car enthusiasts working in creative professions get together to design a wall calendar for Mercedes-Benz Classic? They come up with the idea of presenting 1:18 scale model cars in such a way that they can only be identified as models at second glance. Merging reality and fiction in twelve visuals. It soon becomes apparent that implementing such an idea convincingly requires the right techniques. Art director Johannes Eich, model maker Dirk Patschkowski and automotive photographer Oliver Sterk teamed up with Jochen Fischer, an editor, to set about obtaining models made by the best manufacturers of this miniature world.
Their aim? To keep open for as long as possible the question of whether the scenes are in fact real.
From model to illusion.
Practically no model car looks realistic fresh out of its packaging. There are, however, experts like model maker Dirk Patschkowski who have mastered the art of breathing life into miniature cars. With great attention to detail, on some models the professional weatherer – this is the technical term for such specialists – has masked off the windscreen wiper field with precision and added a layer to the transparent plastic in order to imitate dust or snow. After removing this mask and also treating the wings to some airbrushing treatment, the racing car transporter looks as if it has covered a lot of miles on the motorway on the way home from the Grand Prix.
Photography and fiction.
Automotive photographer Oliver Sterk travels all over the world for his work capturing new products and features in the motor vehicle industry. He also has a passion for computer image composition. Sterk was immediately excited by the idea of staging model vehicles in a superrealistic way: the first digital images he ever processed had involved model cars. An old factory hall near Stuttgart was re-purposed to create a makeshift photographic studio. There he arranged the models with precision so that, with subsequent processing, they would blend into the backgrounds of the pictures.
Close-ups make the difference.
Making a model car look big is easier than you might expect. When no comparisons can be made with reality and the camera is close enough to the object, the model will look real – if the weatherer and photographer are masters of illusion. In order to leave no doubt about where the viewer’s eye is drawn, art director Johannes Eich had the scenery built using model making materials.
A winter landscape from the archive.
For the backgrounds, Johannes Eich sought landscapes and scenes to match the season or the model vehicle. Each setting was chosen specifically to present the vehicles in a special and often surprising way.
Car + surroundings = calendar image.
A Mercedes-Simplex dating from 1904 is a rarity in the real world. No owner would even think of taking such an irreplaceable and unique specimen for a winter drive. The December visual for the Classic Calendar plays with creativity and fiction – a dream reality. Every image is the result of many hours of editing using image processing programmes until the illusion has been perfected.
Imagination has no limits.
The racing car transporter, also known as the “Blue Wonder”, and the streamlined W 196 R Formula One racing car were originally used together in 1955. This duo has never appeared in front of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. When you look at the calendar page for March, however, you’d consider it possible. Very possible even …
The Classic Calendar 2017 is available from the Mercedes-Benz Museum Shop priced at 29.90 euros and can be ordered from www.mercedes-benz-classic-store.com/en.