Pistonnerd Project

Jack Freeman


In amongst our regular project work we love to find the time to experiment on internal projects that we can have fun with and expand our skillset (particularly within the 3D model space)! Last year we pooled our skills together to create what we imagined a current website landing page might look like if a classic 1980s BMW E28 M5 went up for sale today. We were heavily inspired by the old automotive adverts of the 1980s, and knew that we wanted to use these as a basis for the style we were to carry forward into this digital homage, particularly the typefaces and the textures that are now lost within the digital world.

After scouting the web for resources and having little luck (given that the car was released around forty years ago), we had to come up with a new way to start building out content. A medium we had already been researching and exploring for use in other projects such as The Longest Road Out and The Bristol Naturalists Society was 3D models for web born out of Blender. The versatility and heterogeneous nature of working with a 3D model in the 3D space is one that allows you to craft unique and extremely impactful, visual narratives within a much shorter space of time compared to sourcing and shooting with a photographer.

Above is a realtime example of the versatility of using a 3D model within your workflow. It is especially useful when you need to make quick decisions, alterations and amends on the fly.

Now set on an approach to content creation, we began to explore the environment were going to create for web simply using the model itself as the focal point. We knew the cars’ aesthetic would sell itself so we explored ways in which we could begin to tease elements of the cars design as you scroll through the page. As mentioned, we were heavily inspired by the refined, atmospheric aesthetic created in the print adverts from the 1980s so taking inspiration from those we placed the car on a black background and explored the subtlety of it’s angular design with a single light. Highlighting certain areas of the 3D model with monodirectional point light proved to be extremely effective in creating the mood that we set out to capture as seen below:

The project quickly began to take shape as we now had a basis for our visuals. The next step was beginning to design the potential look and feel of the web pages that were to become the modern day “brochure” for the car. As mentioned, we wanted to retain the feel of the 80s advertising whilst also implementing the latest features and interactions that current website design had to offer. Features such as paralax scroll and lightweight lottie animations made their way into the designs pulling inspiration from the old technical BMW manuals the customers would find in their cars.

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