The “Elephant Project” was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute in DC as part of a permanent elephant exhibit. The short film is continuously played in the main Rotunda of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The computer generated animation was conceived as a time portal through which present time visitors are transported back in time, approximately 1 million years back. Imagery, action and the entire setting are unveiled to visitors and then explored by them from their own perspective and point of view. This cinematographic devise contributes to a potent sensation of us actually being there, wandering through the world of the long gone past, and discovering the event that took place back then. This design shapes the event into a very personal experience, one that is culminated in an unexpected encounter with none other than our own distant ancestor. It is during this climaxing moment that we find ourselves staring into the eyes of our past-selves, and being stared back at. In this unique moment we connect with our past heritage, our origin and roots, thus making this experience deeply meaningful, touching and memorable. In order to enhance the sense and feel of poetic antiquity and certain dream like quality, the lighting of the animation and the hominid model is derived from the Old Dutch Masters, characterized by very rich, emotional, moody, contrasting, organic, textural qualities and ambience.

Nick Brew

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