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← Expedition Reef: Behind the Scenes

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Showing Revision 8 created 04/09/2019 by Maria Gorriz.

  1. Creating a scene like this is a huge undertaking.
  2. There's a lot of people involved.
  3. There's a lot of research that went into it.
  4. At the beginning, we had no idea how we would be able
  5. to just technically create this scene with all of this richness.
  6. Because it requires an incredible amount of computer power
  7. to create a photorealistic environment
  8. full of diversity and complexity.
  9. What we like to do here is use computer graphics
  10. to create environments and animals and creatures from scratch,
  11. from reference, and from video.
  12. We also use a technique called photogrammetry.
  13. Photogrammetry is a technique for combining still imagery
  14. to create either computer models,
  15. or create mosaics of a large area.
  16. Photogrammetry is hard enough,
  17. but to do it underwater kind of amazes me.
  18. We've been working with researchers
  19. both within and outside the academy who have gone to coral reefs
  20. and taken thousands of photos of various species of corals
  21. so that's how we've gotten a lot of the coral models
  22. we've been using is via photogrammetry.
  23. The Visualization Studio’s experience with rendering mosaics
  24. from a photogrammetry standpoint now, they are able to advise me
  25. on how to make that process more efficient,
  26. so that I might use it for a tool for future scientific research.
  27. The hardest part was just starting this incredibly huge task
  28. of putting down thousands and thousands of pieces of coral
  29. and figuring out how to make it look good.
  30. What you do is you take something and you replicate it many times
  31. and you try and change it just enough each time.
  32. You rotate it, you scale it, you kind of orient it different ways,
  33. maybe change the color a little bit,
  34. or kind of other subtle variations that you can do systematically.
  35. As far as how many individual instances of each thing are in there
  36. it's thousands, tens of thousands,
  37. more than I can keep track of.
  38. In addition to the corals, which are animals,
  39. we also created other creatures
  40. to draw the audience into this location.
  41. The scene itself is filled with something like 3,000 fish.
  42. We have 31 different species of fish.
  43. We started by looking at the fish that we have here in our tank.
  44. For a while, I was just going out there every morning,
  45. just staring at the fish and trying to learn about how they move,
  46. so I just sat there and tried to learn as much as I could
  47. about what was going on with their behavior.
  48. Then we began building the models for each fish.
  49. Meanwhile, we needed to figure out a way to get the volume of fish
  50. that we wanted into the scene, and we wanted quite a few.
  51. So, I started researching it.
  52. A piece of software that we use that is really good
  53. in simulating crowds, like large numbers of people,
  54. we were able to adapt that to simulate large crowds of fish.
  55. We move over, and we look at a really interesting relationship
  56. between this creature called a Crown of Thorns starfish,
  57. which is this really amazing starfish, that's covered in spines.
  58. They eat corals, so they can go through
  59. and kind of decimate an entire reef, if they're not held in check.
  60. But a little tiny crab called an Acropora crab,
  61. that lives inside this coral, and when one of these Crown of Thorns
  62. come out to, basically, attack its home, it tries to fight it off.
  63. I did have to do a lot of hand animation for the crab
  64. and Crown of Thorns battle scene,
  65. because the crab is grabbing onto the spikes and shaking them,
  66. and so that involved a lot of hands-on activity.
  67. We had a scientist in here just the other day.
  68. When she saw it, she was like,
  69. "Wow, how'd you do that? It looks great!"
  70. This whole process has been absolutely fascinating
  71. and so much fun for me integrating with our visualizations team.
  72. When they were developing a particular scene,
  73. they would pull me in to advise how to make that scene
  74. very, very scientifically accurate.
  75. But the level of detail that they were going for was incredible.
  76. It really, really challenged me to pull up some of the cutting edge,
  77. really up-to-date literature to try to feed them
  78. as much information as we know.
  79. That opening scene shows the risks that we took
  80. and that they are actually paying off with some beautiful imagery
  81. that the audience will be able to experience.
  82. We really want the audience to walk away from the show
  83. not just entertained but also hopefully
  84. they will have a greater sense of what coral reefs are about.
  85. Right now coral reefs around the world are being challenged
  86. by unprecedented stressors, mostly human-induced.
  87. This show instills a sense of hope.
  88. This is a difficult story, this is a turning point for reefs
  89. but it's not too late.
  90. We can turn this around collectively
  91. if we make some responsible decisions moving forward.
  92. ♪ (music) ♪