we were before”
Chicago conceptual design firm Leviathan recently unveiled nearly a dozen interactive attractions designed to help make the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Numbers in Nature” exhibit become a multigenerational playground of entertainment and education over the next decade.
The work transforms intricate mathematical concepts into digital images that respond to the gestures and movements of whoever stands before them. Its innovation literally allows museum visitors to grasp motherlodes of hifalutin scientific data with a glance around a room or a flick of a wrist.
“Patterns appear throughout nature,” says Leviathan EP Chad Hutson. “The spiral of a nautilus shell, the shape of the cosmos, the branches of a tree. That’s what the exhibit was designed to convey. Our role was creating the interactive and media content.”
The fruits of Leviathan’s 10 months of labor are shapes and colors that explain the science behind the beauty of heaven and earth.
The sketch of Leonardo DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man, which illustrate the artist’s notion of perfect human proportions, is superimposed in real time over the reflection of a person’s arms and legs.
The spirals of the Fibonacci sequence, which define the curves found in pine cones and nautilus shells, are formed by tracing the movement of a viewer’s fingertips onto a digital tabletop monitor.
A variety of tools were used to make everything come to life. The Microsoft Kinect tracks viewers’ arms, legs and torsos to render the proportional comparisons in the Vitruvian Man installation. The Leap controller follows the precise movements of a guest’s hands to manipulate virtual 3D objects in the Fibinnaci installation.
At the center of all this high-tech mumbo jumbo are a bunch of dials and knobs that provide museum goers with an easy way to manipulate the sensations.
A lengthy effort requiring “a lot of moving parts”
The simple, analog controls were part of Leviathan’s plan from the get-go. “We had to design this to accommodate an eight-year old through an eighty-year old,” Hutson explains. “It needs to be intuitive the minute you walk up to it.”
To help realize that intuition, Leviathan created a brief for themselves before responding to the museum’s “two, very lengthy” requests for proposals. The homework not only helped them win the business but also allowed them to propose a singular solution.
“We expressed sincere interest in doing both film and interactive,” says Hutson.
“The content needed to help tell the story of these different scientific principles. If the interactive did not match that style, tell the same story, we felt it would have had less impact.”
So began a nearly yearlong effort that “required a lot of moving parts,” involved “many vendors” and stretched from Leviathan’s west side studio to the museum’s south loop campus.
The final result, which is scheduled to run for 10 to 15 years, successfully achieved its goal to provide science and fun before it was even installed.
“This entire project made us three times smarter than we were before,” says Hutson.
Bradon Webb — Creative Director
Lauren Shawe — Sr. Producer
Gareth Fewel — Art Director/Designer
Ely Beyer — Designer/Animator
Anthony Malagutti — 3D Modeler/Animator/Compositor
Andrew Butterworth — 3D Modeler/Animator/Compositor
Alexis Copeland — Designer
Tobias Mattner — 2D Animator
Jesse Willis — C4D/AE animator/compositor
Anthony Morelle — C4D/AE animator/compositor
Chris Beers — VFX/Compositor
Billy Sheahan — Editor
Dennis Chau — Technical Project Lead
Adam Berg — Sr. Programmer/Research Engineer
Harvey Moon — Programmer/Creative Technologist
Lucas Schira — Technical Support
Chad Hutson — President/Executive Producer
Jason White — Executive Creative Director
Matt Daly — Chief Scientist
Paul Rosenthal — Theater Script writer
Joel Corelitz, Waveplant — Composer
6 channel audio mix:
VO talent search and record:
Dog and Pony
Logan Harris, Terrance Harris, Theresa Buffo
Sung Hwang — Line Producer
DP — Mark Woods, Techno Cranes Chicago
Kurt Haunfelner — Vice President, Exhibits & Collections
Olivia M. Castellini, Ph.D. — Senior Exhibit Developer
John S. Beckman — Director, Exhibit Design and Development
Mark Ewing — Senior Project Manager
Faith Griggs-York — Exhibit Project Manager
Angela Williams — Design Manager
Sarah Ingraham — Senior Coordinator/Researcher
Luci Creative — Exhibit Design
Ravenswood Studios — Exhibit Fabrication
Creative Technology — Computer hardware/projectors
Lightswitch — Lighting Design
ILC — Exhibit Lighting
Heather Lindquist, Harvest Moon Studios — Exhibit Writer
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