Armin Pohl led Mackevision in creating ultrarealistic virtual scenarios that have been successful all the way to Hollywood. Pohl’s collection of cars, which was launched with a Porsche 928 GTS, reflects his love of mechanical masterpieces.
Armin Pohl stands on a gallery in an industrial hall where concrete blocks were once made. He gazes down at a row of automotive history. Two dozen classic cars afford a spectacular view of timeless beauty. He surveys these masterpieces with satisfaction. “My daughters say I live in the future,” he remarks. Future and past, global influence and a love of home, digitalization and traditional craftsmanship—the merging of seeming opposites is pleasing to this man who as CEO of Mackevision made the company a leader on the world market for 3-D visualization. Stuttgart is the location not only of Mackevision’s headquarters but also of Pohl’s collection of cars. He now has more time for the latter. After twenty-five years of business success, the fifty-four-year-old is pulling back from his professional responsibilities. He agrees with his daughters, and is turning his focus on the future to his private life. “Basically none of the technological developments of the past twenty years have surprised me,” he says. A graphic artist who loved drawing cars as a schoolboy, he quickly recognized the incredible potential of digital image processing and subsequently of 3-D applications. He saw the virtual world coming, and helped shape it from the start. “It was clear to me that this would change everything!”
“My daughters say I live in the future.” Armin Pohl
With Pohl’s visionary abilities, Mackevision achieved a breakthrough on the international stage. “Macke” stands for Marcus Roth, whose company Pohl joined in 1995 and then acquired in 2006. Since 2018 Mackevision has been part of Accenture Interactive. Well before competitors emerged on the scene, Mackevision specialized in creating impeccable digital marketing worlds, and today its work includes 3-D photo and video gems for Porsche and other premium car makers. Its computer-generated images in ads, flyers, and digital configurators are so perfect they can seem even more real than reality itself. Where “logic meets magic”—that’s how Pohl describes his work as an artist and manager.
Fleets of ships for Game of Thrones
The world of spectacular visual effects soon caught Hollywood’s attention as well. Starting with the fourth season of Game of Thrones, Mackevision was responsible for elements like the buildings and the ships of this highly successful series. The company received numerous awards for its work, including an Emmy in 2014. In 2020, it was nominated for further Emmys for its contributions to the Watchmen and the Lost in Space series. Pohl built a global brand with offices in Europe, America, and Asia.
“Mackevision solves very sophisticated challenges within projects for Hollywood,” says Pohl. Flowing water, for example, is one of the trickiest visual effects to create digitally, but Mackevision is ready to deliver. Or to build an entire medieval city from a barracks, have an enormous fleet of ships attack a harbor, or create a creature from outer space. Game of Thrones set new standards in visual effects, and Mackevision was instrumental in the process. The field demands not only quality but also stamina. “There are incredibly strong competitors and the deadlines are set in stone,” he observes. “Directors and producers have to account for budgets of millions of dollars. If you once fail to deliver what was agreed upon, you won’t get another chance in Hollywood.”
A tall man with a tight ponytail, Pohl likes working with his hands as a counterbalance to his virtual pursuits. “As a child, I worked in the garden. My parents were refugees, and I learned how to grow anything and to put everything available to good use.”
In addition to focusing on cars in the future, he also wants to devote more time to his second hobby: growing organic fruit on his property. “The season runs from sweet cherries to walnuts,” he says with evident pleasure. At Mackevision he was known for filling fruit bowls with his own products.
A term like “garage” seems too small for the place where he houses his cars, which has multiple halls on premises of about 2,600 square meters. Its furnishings are the opposite of futuristic. The secondhand sofa set, used on occasion by selected guests, was a gift. Alebenches stand nearby, and an old fridge from a kiosk holds drinks. Only the twenty-four cars that the host has sorted by brand have been polished. They are grouped around the heart of the impressive collection—a Porsche 928 GTS. “Of all the cars here, only the 928 offers everything: aesthetics, driving pleasure, design, suitability for everyday use—a truly sensational combination,” he enthuses.
Cars as a mirror of the self
As a schoolboy in the late 1970s, Pohl was fascinated by the new model. He first drove a 928 S4 in the mid-1990s, and then a Rainforest Green 928 GTS—exactly like the car he has today. When his daughters were born, the Porsche gave way to a larger family car. Then, five years ago, Pohl had a fateful encounter. “A 928 was driving in front of me and I thought, ‘Wow, what an incredible car!’ Its owner was one of my colleagues. He got out and mentioned that he had to sell the car because of his family.” A familiar story. This automobile then launched Pohl’s collection.
“I like sitting in a car and having the feeling that this is what I am, here and now, on this day. Like having your clothing match your mood,” he says in explaining the diversity of his collection. Its oldest models are from the 1960s, and it includes both exotic vehicles and muscle cars. “Every car reflects the spirit of its time,” he says. “They are as dramatically different as parts of my own personality.” He often chooses to drive the 928. “And each time I think, ‘Ah, I really enjoy driving this car!’” The Porsche has clocked 190,000 kilometers. Built in 1994, it is the final variant of the 928 model line.
The last of these Gran Turismos with V8 front engines were made in 1995. “Porsche gives you a superb combination of enduring design, spirited dynamics, dependability, and German engineering expertise,” says Pohl. “As a child, I never dared to dream that I would own a Porsche one day. And the 928 was an amazing technological pioneer back then!”
Like Pohl, the Gran Turismo anticipated the future. Today we can see that its line leads to the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, in which Pohl now drives more often to his garage.
SideKICK: Jim Button and the wild “Mackevision”
The year 2020 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of Michael Ende’s children’s book Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver. This fall a film version appeared of the book’s sequel, Jim Button and the Wild 13. Mackevision played a key role in the film versions of both books and created a fairytale kingdom.
The protagonists’ adventures with the Wild 13 pirates, dragons, and the Emperor of Mandala—and the search for the origin of the foundling Jim Button—all take place in digital worlds. Mackevision received a film award for the first part. Michael Ende’s books, which also include Momo and The Neverending Story, are loved around the world. They have been translated into more than forty languages and adapted many times for movie, television, and theater productions.