Earth – X-Ray Mega Airport CGI for Discovery

May 19, 2015
by Tim Rabjohns

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/127839846 w=573&h=322]

Although the title of the show – X-Ray Mega Airport might suggest another of those everyday documentaries with the word “Mega” in the title – the technology employed to show off of the world’s largest and most complex aviation hubs – Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is absolutely cutting edge.

Imagine if you can imagine what it’s like to X-ray a whole airport and move through it looking behind and into its various buildings and vehicles.  CGI and motion graphic studio Earth have done just that for Discovery in this five part series.  I spoke to creative director Rich White at Earth to get the scoop on what they were asked to do by Discovery: “In order to visualise and explain a vast range of systems and machines, we built many models from scratch and modified existing, complex engineering CAD models of the airport buildings and specialist vehicles. As more building and vehicle models were created through the course of the project they were added and updated across all shots via Cinema 4D XREFs.

Earth Xray mega airport for dotmogo 03 It was important to the client that the whole show felt like it was analysing and scanning the airport. The solution, and what made Earth’s creative pitch so successful, was the design of the show’s ‘system’ to track, monitor and visualise all aspects of the airports infrastructure. This versatile, consistent and deep permeating ‘user Interface’ and system display design brought together all the CGI and specialist camera footage and was also peppered into lots of the live action. Switching to different ‘lens modes’ allowed visualisation in the most appropriate render style or specialist camera. And yes, the 3d compass and airport map in the corners actually work!”  Personally I really like the way that there are so many ways of visualising the data, and how it all works smoothly with the telling of the story, reminding me a bit of the post we did about Territory’s CGi work for the Miles concept film

Richard continued – “Another key feature of the show was it’s use of LIDAR scanning. Vast maintenance hangers, an Airbus A380’s cockpit, and a fire station were among the locations bombarded with lasers recording points in space and their colour. This huge data set was then taken in and manipulated by us to build a 3D image made entirely of these points. These ethereal snapshots of time with otherwise impossible camera moves around the spaces are rendered in striking detail via specialist software Krakatoa.”

Earth Xray mega airport for dotmogo 01X-Ray Mega Airport is an extremely visually rich show and is packed with facts you didn’t know for the pub! The series begins here in the UK on Discovery at 9pm 21st May and across Discovery Networks International’s factual channels in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide.

Tell us what you think when you’ve seen it…

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