Auckland-based creative tech studio Method, has brought seldom-seen sea creatures to life in an immersive digital experience, ‘Dive into the Deep’.
The new experience is open now and a must-see for all sea creature fans at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium. Method’s most recent installation is a first-of-its-kind projection-mapped animation undertaken for the region. It follows their work on the immersive and interactive exhibition ‘Bligh: Hero or Villain’ at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
‘Dive into the Deep’ immerses visitors into a unique underwater world where they’ll encounter the likes of the Colossal Squid, a manta ray and the Megalodon, the massive prehistoric shark that, when mentioned, often brings shivers up anyone’s spine. It features an unprecedented 14-metre projection mapped ocean wall and is designed to teach audiences about the deep sea as it is now to prehistoric times in an awe-inspiring and wholly immersive way.
With no two scenes the same, the CGI animation developed by Method uses rotoscoping, which allowed the animators to trace the sea creatures to move just as they would in the real world. This creates an experience that offers variety in action and movement, as would be expected of any real aquarium.
Nick Piper, business director at Method, describes the exhibition as a magical, memorable theatrical adventure that loops concurrently between three ocean zones: “The animation naturally progresses through the sunlight zone, the twilight zone and the midnight zone with the exhibition showcasing a vast variety of marine life. It starts with some of the animals you might see today in the depths of our oceans and ends with prehistoric sea creatures of the past – creating a surprising and unique aquarium experience.
“One of the most amazing aspects of this project was that it was all developed from afar due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Method worked virtually with SEA LIFE to create the in-person experience. Using only images, videos, maps and client references, we’re proud of how we’ve created an incredibly tangible experience all the way from across the pond here in Auckland. It was ironic that we could create something so immersive, remotely.”
Creatures in the Sunlight zone include dugong, manta ray, floating bell jellyfish with starfish, seahorse, and fish teeming along the coral bed. The creatures visitors are likely to see in the Twilight zone are a large sperm whale, Tiburonia jellyfish, and a smack of otherworldly-like giant purple jellyfish. Finally, at the darkest depths of the ocean, the Midnight zone features a giant squid, anglerfish and the illusive vampire squid. Visitors may even experience a fight of two titans when the sperm whale and squid clash. Then a travel back in time as the experience takes the audience to prehistoric times with a glimpse of how now-extinct sea creatures may have inhabited the waters. A giant Archelon turtle, ammonite, and the predatory Liopleurodon are sights to behold.
Says Mikala Smith, head of guest experience and operations at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium: “This is a magical experience for visitors who want to know more about what lies beneath the sea and for anyone who simply loves cetaceans. Method helped us turn a space that was once unassuming into a dynamic area with technology that’s really revolutionary. So much so that you don’t even notice the technology and are just in awe of the experience.
“Visitors have been blown away with the whole experience and story, thrilled by this rare chance to enjoy sea creatures like never before.”