We were so thrilled to be a part of the new interactive exhibition ‘TYAMA’ at Museums Victoria – an immersive experience that invites visitors into a multi-sensory world of storytelling. We partnered with the creative, technical powerhouse S1T2 to help realise a sacred First Nations story inspired by the clan of Gunditjmara women.
The word Tyama is the Keerray Woorroong language word meaning ‘to know’. It is about knowing, not just with our minds but with our whole body and all our senses. It recognises that knowledge is precious, it is earned through deep engagement with the world around us.
Our role was to create a 360 immersive cinematic experience as both a climax to the immersive exhibition experience and a call back to the interactive journey the audience has been on. Displayed on two 26 meter by 8 meter displays, we brought to life the stories shared by our First Nations collaborators Yoolongteeyt Dr Vicki Couzens and Yaaran Couzens Bundle. We ensured that our ‘oldest storytellers – Woolok (Blue whale) and Koontapool (Southern Wright) – were represented with realistic proportions and behaviours by working with museum species experts. Meanwhile, gestural, painterly abstraction was used to ignite imaginations and invite visitors to see the world differently.
Working with long time collaborator and amazing concept artist Kate Moon helped us to visual a particularly tricky and ambiguous visual direction.
To replicate Kate’s beautiful concept art, individual brushstrokes were hand painted and crafted into streaks of animated textures which were then painstakingly sculpted around the forms of each whale to give it a unique but deliberate look.
‘The Whale Room’ is a gigantic 30m room with two 8m high concave walls surrounding the viewer, who is free to walk about the space. 15 projectors seamlessly stitch the vision together.
Until it was constructed, it was extremely difficult to fully visualise how our work would translate to such a unique space. To get a sense of scale and placement we used a combination of VR recordings and primitive 3D mock-ups.
In order to choreograph the movement of the animals across the two opposing screens, we created a dual camera setup facing outwards from the centre of action. We wanted to ensure there was always something to look at for the viewer wherever they face, creating dynamic, fluid motion to draw them around the entire room.
Some scenes required large numbers of animals moving dynamically on and around the two screens at the same time. Choreographing the individual movements was going to be extremely cumbersome so we leveraged ‘Signal’, a plugin that allowed us to create fully procedural animations without creating a single keyframe. Additionally flocking systems were built so schools of fish could follow around a single object making it easy for our animators to direct them around the scene.
Partnering with award winning motion designer Chris Angelius allowed our team the steady hand it needed to balance our technical and creative challenges throughout all aspects of the project.
Our collaborative working relationship with S1T2 really allowed the project to evolve and flourish. From the get go we were given clear creative direction with intensive narrative research, while also being allowed the room for experimentation & interpretation. Dirty Puppet is a versatile studio that prides itself on being able to push projects into a wide array of visual styles. Empowering us with the trust to do what we do meant we were able to go on the journey together, allowing all voices to be heard along the way and produce a truly collaborative result.
In every way this was a dream collaboration and thanks again to our awesome client The Melbourne Museum. For a deep dive on the technical side of projection and how the technology came together, check out this chat with Melbourne Museum’s Project Technical Lead, Richard Pilkington.
Every now and then a project presents an opportunity that you just know is something special, something to really throw yourself into. ‘TYAMA’ was such a rewarding and challenging experience that we’re super proud to have been part of.
Client: Melbourne Museum
Production Company: S1T2
Animation Director: Cameron Gough
Creative Director: Christopher Panzetta
Producer: Natalie Robinson
Art Direction: Kate Moon
3D Project Lead: Chris Angelius
Animation & Compositing: Cameron Gough
Cel Animation Lead: Taryn Borgford
Additional Cel Animation: Jon Asquith
Additional Particle setups: Eugene Doig
Storyboards: Sacha Bryning
Original Score & sound design: Klang