Challenge

Capturing 3D Technology in all its Dimensions

The Smithsonian Institution was a pioneer in using 3D printing technology to make fragile, priceless, and unique artifacts more explorable and available to researchers and the public worldwide.

The uses of 3D in the museum space are as multidimensional as the technology itself. But the subject was complex and the uses so cutting edge as to be confusing to a general audience. In fact, the revolutionary work of the three-person 3D team had flown mostly under the radar. The time had come to debut their work.

Yes& teamed with the Smithsonian’s X3D Lab project leaders to share their innovations through a series of online videos, bringing the techniques and their scientific impacts to life.

Solution

Telling a 3-Dimensional Story

One of the Smithsonian’s prime uses for 3D technology was as a storytelling device--to bring the museum’s collection to a wider audience in a tangible way.

These could not be ordinary Smithsonian videos. 3D technology is young, fresh and innovative. Its story needed to reflect the excitement that comes with the daily discovery of its potential.

We treated each of the individual videos as short films, each telling part of a larger story – the quest to know man's world.   And each story explores a new use for 3D.  Taken as a whole, these 18 videos create a new, three-dimensional understanding of the power of 3D.

The content was created over the course of 5 days and many late nights at several Smithsonian museums (the Hall of Human Origins at 3am was particularly spooky!). On-camera interviews, aimed at eliciting the passion of Smithsonian experts in an array of disciplines, were filmed from a semi-circular dolly track, evoking the dynamic motion of 3D art.  Newly shot footage of museum objects blends with motion-matched, 3-dimensional depictions, demonstrating the exciting new tool we have to examine our world.

Results

Trailblazing Work Illuminated

The 18-video series debuted at the Smithsonian 3D Lab’s symposium and exposition. Several of the videos were used to coincide with the publication of scientific articles by the Department of Paleobiology.

The Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution pronounced the videos to be "wowsers." The resulting capstone Smithsonian X3D Overview video was recognized with a Silver Telly Award in the Information category. The Silver Award is the highest recognition for excellence in film and video productions.

In the end, Smithsonian X 3D Lab had a new visual tool to capture audience’s imagination and provoke a better appreciation for its groundbreaking, multi-dimensional endeavors.

Presidential Portrait in 3D

The Smithsonian 3D team had an unwritten, personal goal: to be the first to 3D scan a sitting US president. The video series and the buzz it created helped them achieve this dream.