Ichthyosaur Interactive at Thinktank

May 5, 2016 |  by  |  3D, Modelling, Sculpting, Simulation

I was commissioned to create a 3D interactive for the opening of a major new gallery at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum for their Marine worlds Gallery. The exhibition would see the skeleton of the UK’s largest example of Ichthyosaurus laid out in full for the first time ever.

Ichthyosaurs were marine predators that looked a lot like dolphins but they were actually reptiles. The skeleton had just been the focus of a two year conservation and research project, revealing that it was the largest Ichthyosaurus in the UK and potentially a new species.

The existing hardware that the interactive was to run on was hooked upto 4 monitors and was being repurposed from an older exhibit. The system was quite old so the interactive had to run at a lower resolution and utilise limited graphics and memory resources. after a few tests on the existing machinery we decided to opt for an animated virtual model with key hotspots, which when clicked gave details about findings from the skeletal renovation.

We first created a 3D model from a conceptual drawing produced for the exhbition. The model was then rigged to a virtual skeleton and then animated and then animated to swim through an underwater scene that we had created in a realtime engine.

The kiosk only had a rollerball for moving the mouse and one button for functions so we had to make the interactive work within these parameters. We allowed users to rotate the 3D model using the rollerball and select key points that would pop up when the camera was near them. An information sheet would display on the screen allowing the user to learn more about the ichthyosaur and the fossil.

The hardest part of the project was making the project look decent on old hardware but we managed to get good performance and an engaging experience for visitors despite the limitations.

3D Interactive Design : Taran Singh
Graphic Design: Kam Samra
Programming support: Divkaran Singh
Special Thanks : Dave Rowan & Luanne Meehitya


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