Back in August 2022, we completed a series of six visualizations as part of the public launch of the Lebendige Limmat project — a plan to revitalize the Limmat river between Schlieren, Oberengstringen, and Unterengstringen. Over the length of more than three kilometers, a near-natural river landscape is created, one that offers a dynamically changing green oasis for the local population and becomes a hotspot of biodiversity. The Limmat breaks its rigid boundaries and takes back what was taken from it.
With the focus shifting from architecture to nature itself, this project largely fell outside the usual scope of our work, requiring novel approaches both on the creative and technical front.
Our initial client brief, augmented with our interpretation of it, would read something like this:
With this series of images, the goal is to stay away from photorealism and adopt a rather rough, illustration-like style. The images need to come out as romantic paintings (as in 18th-century Romanticism), with a focus on the atmosphere of the place, rather than the details.
On the technical front, this required a heavy reliance on post-production and matte painting techniques and an organic and inventive blending of 2D and 3D elements. And that is without forgetting the challenge of taking the perfect drone photo to use as a backdrop. On the creative front, with nature no longer being just the context but the main character, new focal elements had to be considered. The lines of the landscape were used to drive the eye around and a strategic use of color was utilised to define areas of interest inside the image. In the cases where the camera was close enough to the river, people were used as means for storytelling. Finally, there was the challenge of staying true to the place, so that people can recognize it and relate to it, while still implying new atmospheres, qualities, and purposes. And this “new” had to be very specific: the animal species, types of vegetation and terrains seen in the images were all precisely defined in the client brief.
Visualizing a project of such magnitude, impact and publicity brings another unique set of challenges and demands on the project-leading front. The voices of the various involved parties (local authorities, communication experts, river experts, engineers, etc.) have to be considered and fed into the equation. Luckily, our client, the communication agency C-Factor, faced up to that challenge. As revealed by the brief above, they approached us with a very clear idea about what the images should communicate and what the overall aesthetic should be. Throughout the process, they managed to provide well-structured and unified feedback, combining a variety of inputs from all involved parties.
In the end, after two months and several revisions, we managed to deliver six meticulously crafted images which (while risking to sound self-congratulatory) capture the essence of the place and the unique natural qualities of the Limmat while allowing the viewer to dream beyond what they see.
Finally, we should mention FrameAnt’s great contribution to animating our still images. We were really impressed and pleasantly surprised to see our images come to life!
Another challenge, another learning, as the cliché goes. Special thanks to C-Factor for the fruitful and rewarding collaboration.
On to the next one!