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dolce vita* 2007/07 - superdiva

matte/3d: Tomáš Müller (Temüjin); retouches and final touchup: Stanislav Petera; styling: Jana Medková; make-up: Mária Kňapová, hair: Anna (toni&guy); production: Marek Jaroš; assisants: Jan Svoboda, Dan Vojtěch; models: Denisa D. (Elite Prague), Braňo O. (Exit Model Management Bratislava)

nikon d2x, hasselblad h2d/phase one 39mpx digital back, profoto, 3ds max, adobe photoshop

the concept

This editorial was something I was thinking about for a long time before it actually happened - I wanted to create something very dramatic with strong movie-like atmosphere and story to follow, based on novels of Jules Verne. The only problem was where to shoot it, as in Czech Republic there is no sea and we don't really have trained octopuss available either, so this is where cooperation with Tomáš Müller - skilled matte painting & visual artist took place. Single most difficult part on this fashion story for me was to persuade editor-in-chief of Dolce Vita* (best magazine to shoot for in Czech Republic when it comes to fashion) that we were not mad and that I really want to shoot a story with octopuss in storm on an open sea - that took some time but once accomplished we could start working.


moodboards, reference images

First thing for an editorial of this scale was to find relevant images that would illustrate what mood we wanted to create and what would the enviromnent look like, so after extensive search in our archives and throughout the net as well as art galleries we came up with selection of pictures we could use as reference, for both octopuss (which would be later created in 3d software), sea and sky (which is to be composed)


storyboard sketches

After we had reference images ready and we knew where would the story happen we started drawing storyboard to stick to while shooting and to determine compositions and points-of-view for the camera

And once we had all the images ready we got the whole story approved by editor-in-chief and passed it to the people from production to start looking for props and location, as well as to stylist for her to see what would scenes look like and what clothes (given that she had to pick them from actual fashion designers collections) she needed to collect


location scouting

With storyboard ready we started to look for a location to shoot, but it turned out that the only boats that would remind old metal whale ship at least a little bit were old fireboats on Vltava river, but these were really small. However, we decided we'll give it a try and see what happens (which happened to be a good choice, at the end)



When everything was ready actual shooting took place - it was very sunny day on Vltava river, quite hard to imagine we're shooting a story that would be happening in a storm on open sea at midnight with thunders and lightning all around.

We agreed with Tomáš that we'd try to shoot as much as we could on spot, keeping in mind that the boat won't be changed afterwards, only the environment. So the lights were set in such way to simulate stormy night, machines creating wind, fog and rain turned on, models instructed and we started to shoot.


final retouched image

Here what you can see is the final retouched image - we used two cameras for this shoot, 12mpx Nikon D2X to take snapshots (as DSLR was faster to work with and carry around and results came out fasted) and Hasselblad H2D with 39mpx digital back for taking the final picture once everything was ready and in it's place.

Nikon D2X would probably do here because the maximum resolution we needed was A3 at 300DPI, but as we wanted to include some heavy postproduction we wanted to have as much data as possible from the very beginning.



This is the place where Tomáš took the retouched picture from me and started to work on his magic, adding sea (composed from hi-res data we had already ready before we start to shoot), water splashes (that were shot separately) and adjusting colours and contrast in order for everything to work seamlessly, just as if the sea was really there


3d model

For modelling of the octopuss the 3D Studio Max was used, while Tomáš also created simple model of the boat to be able to simulate shadows casted on the enviromnent and global lighting as well, following exactly how the actual lighting setup looked on the photo.

Top image is how the final render looked like, with all lights and textures in place, three small images illustrate separate renders of global lighting, shadows to be cast on the boat by octopuss and alpha channel


atmospheric effects

Some of the photos with atmospheric effects - were shot separately on black background, so we had freedom to play with amount of water splashes, rain and fog on the final images


final composition

Everything is now ready, octopuss in it's place, fine-tuned to fit in the scene perfectly, sea appears to be real and everything is ready for the final touch


final image

Final color postproduction takes place only when all of the photos from the story are ready, so we can apply the same color toning and contrast changes (as well as some other advanced postproduction techniques) to all of them and see how the whole story would look like. We went for rather cold colors and movie-like postproduction so that the whole editorial would look like stills from a movie, dramatic, expressive and making the viever want to know what's next.

At the end every image from this story took aproximately one day of work on postproduction for both me and Tomáš (not including production and shooting part) - and feedback from readers of the Dolce Vita* magazine as well as from people all around the world showed us that the effort was definitely worth it.