National Parks Centennial

Client: Google

In the summer of 2016, I had the wonderful opportunity to work as a Motion Design intern with the creative team at Stinkdigital, NY. (Read about my experience.) Early on, I was assigned to one of the studio's highest-profile projects, "Google Presents: The Hidden World of the National Parks." The website serves as an interactive documentary, allowing users to experience five of the nation's most-beautiful parks.

Over the course of several months, I developed motion assets for each park, ranging from high-fidelity animations to stylized 3D illustrations, interactive WebGL experiences, and UI motion tests. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I'm honored to have worked with such an amazing team.

See the Project 

Credits
Produced at Stinkdigital
Me - Motion Designer
Adam Newport-Berra - Cinematographer
Ghost Robot - Additional Production
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Composer

America's Most Beautiful Parks

A hundred years ago, the National Parks Service was created as a way to preserve and share US public lands for generations to come. The 58 parks are every American's cultural inheritance, a treasure on par with the great works of European art. We partnered with Google to celebrate the National Parks Service's centennial with an interactive tour of five of the most spectacular parks for desktop and mobile.

Featuring breathtaking cinematography by Adam Newport-Berra, 360 video, ambisonic audio and music by modern composer Kailyn Aurelia Smith, the site is truly immersive. Shot from helicopters, mountaintops, horseback and underwater, over 11 terabytes of footage was gathered over 26 days and 18,949 miles was edited down to over 25 minute to create the final experience.

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Building the Bats

The most significant portion of my time went towards developing motion assets for Carlsbad Caverns. The deliverables included a fully-rendered 16:9 loading animation of a bat in flight, and various optimized models, textures, and animations for a WebGL experience. All assets were created in Cinema4D and rendered in Octane Render.

The 16:9 animation serves as a loading screen, explaining the perspective shift of "becoming the bat" to the user. Starting with a base mesh of the body, I sculpted improvements, re-textured, and developed a complex rigging system for realistic flight movement and wing dynamics. I then added hair dynamics, Subsurface Scattering, and linked the parameters with Xpresso for a better optimized keyframing workflow. 

I also developed the cave environment, and finally created low-poly versions of all the assets for the WebGl experience.

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Loading animation that explains the user's perspective shift into the bat.

WIP Bat Flight Test

VFX breakdown - creating the bat.

We designed a WebGL experience that demonstrated how bats navigate.

Glacier Recession

For Kenai Fjords, we wanted to talk about glacier recession. The ability to essentially "scrub a timeline" was discussed, which required a CG overlay atop 360 footage. I conducted several weeks of RnD, exploring various visual directions and 360 compositing techniques before landing on the final direction. A freelance designer was then brought in to assist with the final production steps.

All assets were created in Cinema4D and rendered in Octane Render.

A slider demonstrates glacial recession over the years.

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To navigate the site we created contextual hotspots that made it easy to see where to go next.

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Constellation Illustrations

Bryce Canyon is one of the darkest places in the country, making star-gazing a must. We wanted to capture this experience for the user, allowing them to explore the beautiful night sky in 360. As planets, galaxies and constellations are discovered, 3D illustrations appear, prompting a VO.

After a few days of RnD, I modeled the Bear and Hercules in Cinema4D and built rigging systems for dynamic poses.

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