Tuesday 26 June, London: The new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera has made its debut with a starring role in a new film by the innovative image maker Nick Knight. Placed centre stage amidst a bold piece of contemporary cinematic art, the DBS Superleggera’s poise and power are vividly re-imagined through Knight’s unique vision.
Nick Knight is a long-standing Aston Martin owner with a passion for bold forms and striking imagery. A true pioneer in digital photography and filmmaking, Knight combines his mastery of image-making technology with a unique eye for portraiture, still life, fashion photography and the moving image. Working with the SHOWstudio creative team, who together have built up an impressive portfolio of fashion films, bringing together technology and traditional techniques to create a bold new aesthetic. Knight has collaborated with many of the world’s most pioneering fashion brands, including Alexander McQueen, Jil Sander, and Christian Dior. His modern baroque imagery has redefined fashion photography, bringing the genre into the modern age.
At the start of the process, Knight sat down with Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman and his team for a briefing on the character and qualities of the DBS Superleggera. ‘I asked what the single key attribute of the car was,’ Knight says, ‘and the answer was ‘speed’. The DBS Superleggera is Aston Martin’s flagship, a super GT that pushes the boundaries of performance and design. ‘Torque is such an important feature of the DBS Superleggera, it’s the delivery of the power that throws you back into your seat as you accelerate,’ says Reichman, ‘this power is what defines the DBS Superleggera. This car is about bold, athletic muscularity.’
Nick Knight’s vision was to bring these emotions to the screen. ‘Nick was one of the artists invited to take part in Aston Martin The Book. He photographed the Aston Martin Valkyrie and we were struck by how perfectly he captured the character of the car and at the same time showed it in a completely new way,’ says Aston Martin’s Director of Global Marketing and Brand Strategy Gerhard Fourie, ‘we gave him as much freedom as possible to explore the car.’
The DBS Superleggera has been brought to life through Knight’s dazzling use of photography and CGI, and the shoot was produced by PRETTYBIRD. A location shoot in a former steelworks provided key shots, environments and backgrounds, which were then blended in to Knight’s trademark post-production. ‘I like to push the frontiers of non-narrative film,’ he says, ‘it’s about weaving in a set of emotions and responding naturally to what you see.’ A hugely complex 3D model of the DBS Superleggera was then animated, with dynamic reflections that morph and flex in time with the soundtrack.
Fast-changing angles, ‘impossible’ computer generated camera moves and perspective shifts convey a sense of speed and power, with the DBS Superleggera bursting from this kaleidoscopic array of dynamic animated forms. Animation and reflection creates a sparkling and futuristic monochrome landscape that appears to shift and melt around the car. ‘This vision of the car coming out of darkness is like a galaxy speeding towards us,’ says Knight.
Nick Knight’s portraiture work provides a unique insight into a personality, and the DBS Superleggera is no different. The dark and menacing imagery symbolises the car’s colossal power output and torque. ‘It is a brute in a suit,’ he says, ‘the DBS Superleggera is uncompromising, a thing of great beauty but also scary and powerful beyond imagination. It’s an unpredictable rogue.’ The dark cinematic environments created for the film generate a sense of foreboding and anticipation. ‘By being shown very little, the audience are compelled to use their imagination,’ he says, ‘the car’s dark brooding beauty is intensified by the suspense.’
‘I believe we can look at film in a different way, throw out the linear approach and create a purely emotional way of presenting imagery,’ says Knight, ‘I think it’s totally appropriate for Aston Martin to trust completely in someone’s creative vision and push the boundaries.’ Marek Reichman describes the film as a ‘true embodiment of the DBS Superleggera’s dynamic character. This car is uncompromising and so is Nick’s vision.’ Aston Martin will continue to collaborate with artists in future projects celebrating the creativity, craft, design, engineering and beauty that is at the heart of the brand. ‘Artistic collaborations bring a fresh perspective,’ says Fourie, ‘Nick Knight’s work is very arresting, thoroughly modern and above all, it embodies Aston Martin beauty.’