Sabertooth Productions has been working closely with the Monterey Bay Aquarium for over 10 years. Sabertooth provides high-quality 3D animation, editing, compositing, and color grading services for the Aquarium's live animal exhibits, theatre shows and interactive installations.
This video is a compilation of several different animations created for the new Deep Sea auditorium show debuting in 2015 at the Aquarium. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is well known as a research and educational institution and their award winning auditorium shows are always packed. These animations showcase the various underwater vehicles (ROVs, AUVs and a Benthic Rover) that researchers use to study the deep sea.
The vehicles and terrain were modeled in MODO (using rough CAD files as a template). The MODO plug-in Mesh Fusion was used to great effect to create seams, cutouts and complex shapes on each of the vehicles and made the job much easier. All of the animation and rendering was done in MODO, both MODO and Mudbox were used for painting. Some of the terrain was created in World Machine before being brought into MODO for further sculpting. After FX was used for compositing and Colorista for color correction.
This little cuttlefish is from the new Tentacles exhibit. Sabertooth worked on a number of different projects for this particular exhibit. This little guy is part of an interactive 3D experience that allows visitors to morph between different cephalopods. Sabertooth created fully animated 3D models of a cuttlefish, a pacific octopus, a nautilus and a humboldt squid. It was quite challenging since each animal had differing topologies and required it's own animation rig. Furthermore, the models had to be responsive enough for real-time interactive in the final Unity environment.
One of the most popular animations we've done for the Aquarium is the seahorse mating ritual 'Shall We Dance'. Prominently displayed in the Seahorse exhibit the animation depicts two seahorse's engaging in their complex, ritualized mating dance. The seahorses were modeled in MODO, rigged and animated in Maya, and then brought back into MODO for rendering. The light rays and passing sun were created in After FX. The music was composed specifically for the animation. 'Shall We Dance' continues to be a very popular exhibit at the aquarium and has even inspired a live action version performed by a drama group.
Project White Shark is an Aquarium theatre presentation covering ongoing research of Great White Sharks off of the coast of California. The animations are played in conjunction with a live speaker to inform the audience about current research on White Shark mating and migration habits, as well as giving the audience a comprehensive overview of shark's physical features. The animations shown here depicting how researchers collect tagging data was also shown on the Discovery Channel's 'Shark Week'.
The bottom animation is played in conjunction with the live speaker presenting physical and physiological facts about the Great White Shark. An interesting note if you see the show, the screen at the Aquarium's theatre is 20 feet across, the shark model was created to display 'actual size' (just over 18ft) on the screen during the presentation.
The Tiny Drifters exhibit at the Aquarium showcases the myriad of plankton species adrift in our oceans. Sabertooth was in charge of creating the 'river' of tiny creatures that flowed across the exhibits walls, projected from multiple HD projectors installed in the ceiling. The 'magnifying' lens gives the visitors a close up look at the detailed creatures adrift in the water.
Another aspect of the exhibit was an interactive 3D touchscreen. The specially made massive circular touchscreen interfaced with an interactive Unity program created by Lindsay Digital. The plankton models used in the animated 'river' were available for visiting children to touch, move and spin around while displaying scientific information on the organism.
The Aquarium's Mysteries of the Deep exhibit showcases the animals and geography of the deep Monterey Bay. Sabertooth created 3D animations of deep sea mapping ROVs ranging across the landscape at the bottom of the Monterrey Canyon. Additional animations gave a glimpse of the Aquarium's remote deep sea research camera system.
Jellies Living Art is one of the most popular exhibits at the Aquarium. Sabertooth was brought in to create several jellyfish animations, both for the exhibit and the accompanying theatre show. Maya and MODO were used to model, animate and render the various jellyfish species, as well as the 'blooms' of jellyfish that sometimes occur in damaged ecosystems.
Whales for Windmills is an award winning Aquarium theatre show that educates the audience on numerous 'nature inspired' scientific innovations for a green planet. Wind turbine blades modeled after humpback whale pectoral fins, car chassis modeled after boxfish, high-speed trains with aerodynamics inspired by kingfishers, and boat hulls covered with a hydrodynamic material similar to a shark's skin. The animations are played in conjunction with a live presenter and questions are encouraged from audience members.