- Science Centre, Singapore
- 3month exhibition
Part of Animal Planet’s 'Living Worlds' interactive exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore, Into the Blue was an immersive video animation taking audiences on a journey to discover the rich beauty and diversity of the Indian Ocean. Projected onto a 4mx4m suspended hemisphere, the creative technology animation engulfed audiences in a captivating underwater world where real-life biology has been painstakingly recreated to give visitors a realistic, up-close encounter with life in and around coral reefs.
Animal Planet’s 'Living Worlds' was a first-of-its-kind interactive exhibition using edutainment technology to explore the relationship between animals and the environments they inhabit. Captivating audiences with a range of immersive and interactive multimedia installations, the exhibition was designed to educate and engage audiences with a uniquely multisensory experience of the natural wonders of our world.
At its core, 'Living Worlds' was both a celebration of the Earth’s natural beauty, and a reminder of the very real impact humans are having on the rich diversity of this planet. With a strong focus on conservation, the interactive exhibition focused on the power of individual actions, suggesting that together we can make a real difference in protecting the most vulnerable animals and environments around us.
As part of this interactive exhibition, we created Into the Blue, an immersive projection animation designed to reveal the rich diversity and beauty of the world beneath the waves. Projected onto a huge 4mx4m hemisphere dome, the creative technology experience took audiences deep into the Indian Ocean to experience first-hand how tropical reefs are shaped by the interplay of creatures, currents and corals – and how they’re under threat all over the world.
One of the key aspects of Into the Blue was the fact that all our digital models were incredibly accurate to the real-life biology they represented. Using underwater photogrammetry as a base, we worked closely with experts in marine biology and, with painstaking precision, were able to ensure accuracy to life in reefs across the South Pacific. From krill to coral, turtles to whale sharks, the immersive video animation gave audiences a realistic view into the stunning array of life in and around the coral reef.
Taking audiences on this sensory journey into the ocean’s depths, Into the Blue used what might appear to be a simple technology (projection animation) in a thoroughly unique environment (an immersive hemisphere dome). Hanging suspended within the museum, the hemisphere projection was able to engulf audiences in a vibrant underwater world full of fish, krill, sharks and coral.
Throughout production, we weren’t able to access the physical dome. This posed some significant challenges, especially given the highly unusual shape of the projection. After some experimentation, we were able to set up testing in virtual reality. This proved crucial to understanding the spatial nature of the animation, for example revealing that our initial renders had a natural line of sight focused on the sand instead of the reef.
It was all worth it in the end, as visitors were able to step inside the physically immersive animation. Here, they were brought into a uniquely intimate relationship with the beautiful yet threatened coral reef. Incorporating a broad 180° view into this world, we were able to captivate audiences with a sense of wonder and awe that would help personalise educational messages about environmental consciousness and conservation.
Projected onto the hemisphere dome, the immersive video animation took audiences on a journey through beautiful underwater environments. With the 180° field of view, we designed Into the Blue’s spherical animation to capture the varying opportunities for life found at different depths throughout the ocean. Building mood through techniques such as volumetric lighting and rich colour palettes, we were able to create a realistic, believable world for audiences to explore.
Creating a spherical animation was not without its challenges. It may not seem like it in the finished animation, but there are hundreds of thousands of fish rendered into the coral scenes. We spent a lot of our time trying to get more fish in so that the reef felt lively and populated. The problem was that in the dome projection, a lot of the fish action we spent so much time on was happening in the peripherals, ultimately overshadowed by what was going on in the centre of the hemisphere.
The creative technology animation was accompanied by a narrated soundscape designed to further immerse visitors in the virtual underwater world. Mimicking a guided submarine tour and voiced by a leading American outdoor adventurer, Forrest Galante, the soundscape helped us frame the experience, exaggering moments of tension and excitement to create a thrilling adventure from the shallows to the deep.
The soundscape also served to highlight key narrative beats and educational moments throughout the creative technology experience. Encouraging audiences to not only see but understand the vibrant world of coral reefs, the voice over gave the immersive video experience a subtle didactic quality that urged visitors to appreciate the power and importance of wildlife conservation.
Into the Blue debuted in late 2019 as part of Animal Planet's 'Living Worlds' interactive exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre. Providing an up-close encounter with the world beneath the waves, the immersive animation invited audiences into a more intimate relationship with underwater creatures than ever before.
The experience was not only a showcase of the spectacular yet fragile beauty of coral reefs across the world, but also a powerful call to action for visitors young and old in the fight against climate change.