Sarah Kenderdine initiated and directed the overall Travelling Kungkarangkalpa dome project with the NMA for the exhibition and commissioned me to create these two movies during 2016/17. Composer Cedric Maridet created the ambient soundtrack for the works, incorporating traditional Inma songs from the desert communities.
Travelling Kungkarangkalpa: Art Experience brings the story of the Seven Sisters to life through the use of 3D computer animations and unique Australian Indigenous paintings, especially adapted for a fulldome environment.
This movie was created to fulfil two objectives: provide a spoken narrative account of the Seven Sisters Tjukurpa (Dreaming), provided by the archaeologists of the NMA (Margo Neale and Christiane Keller) - and to fulfil Sarah Kenderdine's vision of mapping ultra-high-resolution scans of indigenous paintings to a fulldome environment - creating the possibility of visually exploring their iconography in a novel immersive way. The paintings were to be enlivened by accompanying animations of 3D animated Tjanpi figures and the antagonist of the story, Wati Nyiru, who takes the form of a snake.
The Tjanpi figures are large sculpted figures, made from spinifex grass and fabric (details here) - photogrammetrically reconstructed by Paul Bourke, and rigged and 3D animated by Zero One animation. The snake was constructed, rigged and animated by Brad May (Zero One animation) - based upon photos I took of an original wooden sculpture provided to me by the NMA.
The 'songlines flyover' was a challenging sequence where I had to map together a painting (Seven Sisters Songline (1994) by Josephine Mick) and the Australian continent. Using an ultra-high-resolution 16-bit greyscale TIFF (24480 x 20300 px) - kindly provided by Drew Whitehouse from the ANU Vizlab - I created a digital elevation model of the continent, textured with satellite imagery, surrounded by synthetic ocean and skies - this enabled me to accurately map the important places of various songlines provided by NMA archaeologists (the red dots you see on the continent). Tasmania - a separate element of the painting that has been lost somewhere along the line - was created from scratch, based upon a low resolution image provided to me (but then, Tasmania, where I work, is often left off the map!) Needless to say, there was a great deal of mismatch between the painting and the accurate computer model, so it has been gently nudged in the right directions in order to correspond reasonably closely, without introducing too much obvious distortion.
By far the most complicated part of this work seemed, initially, the most simple - navigating around the paintings to focus on key points of iconography, matching the narrative. Some of the paintings are square, so they had to be seamlessly tiled and mapped to an equirectangular projection and then to the dome. Navigating them proved complicated, where I had to seek a trade-off between being able to pan and zoom to points of interest - without inducing motion-sickness in the viewer - and yet maintain a reasonable tempo for each scene - a lot of trial and error. Furthermore, as we were aiming for 'quasi-omnidirectionality' (given various proposed seating arrangements for DomeLab), this had to be taken into account too, in order to maintain viewer's interest without too much neck-strain. Because I worked with ultra-high-definition-high-resolution source scans of the paintings it was sometimes agonisingly slow, despite using fast computers. The use of proxies was limited, due to the need to zoom from very far out, to very fine details - and then to match and composite animations upon these changing geometries. Tricky stuff.
Following a couple of meetings in Canberra, Sarah, Christiane, Margo and I worked on the storyboard together and the movie went through various iterations previewed on the EPICentre DomeLab 4k dome in Sydney with Sarah, NMA staff and the Traditional Owners, during early to mid- 2017. I worked with Sarah, Brad and Christiane over several months (mainly via email and video conferencing) to produce the final edit: a very complicated piece of work, even though it looks deceptively simple. All visualisation, animation, post and edit was undertaken at my studios in Hobart, Tasmania, where I drew all the pieces together for the final work you see here: a complex iterative process involving a great deal of experimentation in creating the shots, layering animation and effects, compositing, colour-grading and deciding upon look-and-feel, pacing and tempo. Shellie's narrative, in concert with Cedric's evocative soundscape brings the story to life.
Travelling Kungkarangkalpa: Art Experience Duration: 7:32
Credits: Produced by Sarah Kenderdine and Peter Morse for the National Museum of Australia Director: Sarah Kenderdine Director of Photography & Fulldome Visualisation: Peter Morse Script: Margo Neale & Christiane Keller (National Museum of Australia) Narrator: Shellie Morris Audio Design: Cedric Maridet Tjanpi Figure Photogrammetry: Paul Bourke 3D Character Animation: Brad May (Zero One) 3D Animation and Motion Graphics: Peter Morse Fulldome Time-lapse Photography: Peter Morse Time-Lapse Motion Control & Technical Support: Chris Henderson & Peter Morse Fulldome Post Production, Edit & Compositing, Rendering & Slicing: Peter Morse
Artworks represented are detailed in the film credits. Created for DomeLab - a research infrastructure project led by Professor Sarah Kenderdine supported by the Australian Research Council in collaboration with 11 organisations including the National Museum of Australia
Premiere: Tracking the Seven Sisters, National Museum of Australia, 14 September 2017 - 25 February 2018
Special thanks to: Tomasz Bednarz, Rob Lawther & Kathy Yeh (EPICentre, UNSW). Drew Whitehouse, ANU Vizlab. Andrew Hazelden.
Funding: Travelling Kungkarangkalpa: Walinynga (Cave Hill) was funded jointly by National Museum of Australia and DomeLab via the Australian Research Council. Additional field support by Peter Morse. Additional compute support by EPICentre UNSW, Peter Morse and the University of Tasmania..