How To Create A City Of Ice | BTS with Erik Almas

Composite photography seems to be the standard in advertising these days and Erik Almas is one of the photographers leading that race. In this behind the scenes video from Erik, we also see the use of CGI to turn his hometown into an ice winter wonderland.

Advertising will always throw you curve balls. In this campaign for HK Erik needed to create an advertisement geared towards winter during the warmer summer/fall months. He did this by bringing in a CGI artist to create a composite backplate based off of the center shopping square in Trondheim, Norway, which is actually Erik's hometown. As a photographer at Erik's level, he is hired not only because of his knowledge in composite photography and timeless composition but because of his problem solving skills and network of people that can re-build his hometown made of ice.

Advertising always has it's challenges due to the cyclical nature of seasons. There is typically a 2-12 month lag between when a photographer will shoot an image before the campaign will even come out. Due to this, it can be a challenge in many cases to create a Fall scene during the winter months or to bring in out of season foods that you may need as a prop or ingredient.

As a photographer at the commercial level it pays to have insurance for situations like this. Our studio, for example, has boxes of fake hand painted peaches that allow us to use peaches year round should we so need to without having to rely on a local grocer.

This is a great example of why you should take advantage of this winter and go out and shoot as many backplates as you can in various winter conditions. This could potentially help you next Spring if you get a great idea to shoot a winter scene with a model in the studio.

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Lee Ramsden's picture

immersive! I would love to learn more on the CGI side of things, the 3d work looks awesome.
Photoshop classes and you tube are everywhere. Has anyone has good experience from any courses in the UK that teach 3d software?

Edward Porter's picture

This kind of 3D work is most likely done by a couple of 3d artists. The 3d modeler is in charge of creating the assets. Then the models have to be rendered properly which requires a lighting guy. Sometimes this is the same person, but these two fields have about as much in common as a set designer and a photographer. Luckily, this is just a photograph so a simple composite can be accomplished in the end (but would be a whole other beast for for video).

The 3D world is very self educated just like photography. If you want to get your feet wet for free, try Blender. It pretty much does everything at this point and would be hard to justify spending hundreds or thousands on other software unless you plan on going pro. CGcookie has a lot of great tutorials on Blender. Best of luck.

Lee Ramsden's picture

Thanks for taking the time to comment.
I'll check that out.
Yeah for sure seen some software for crazy crazy prices.
But they seem like amazing bits of kit.


Spy Black's picture

The source Blender site at as well as the main info site at has additional tutorial information. 3D is not for the faint of heart, it requires a lot of time, attention, and work. The rewards are great however.

David Henderson's picture

Interesting. I find such videos far more appealing without the irrelevant, insipid music track.

Spy Black's picture

"Composite photography seems to be the standard in advertising these days..."

Considering I've been doing composite ads since the photo-optical days when I literally cut out masks for my elements, I'd say it's been the "standard" for, oh, perhaps the last 100 years...