Natural History Museum brings extinct creatures to life before your eyes

Press release - 10 November 2010

New interactive film, Who do you think you really are?, uses cutting edge technology to recreate the past and bring to life the story of evolution.

For the first time ever, you can bring a dinosaur and an early human to life before your eyes with the totally unique, state-of-the-art interactive film Who do you think you really are?, now on show in the Attenborough Studio at the Natural History Museum, London.

Guided by Sir David Attenborough, Who do you think you really are? uses three independent screens, webcams and specially designed handheld devices that allow you to take part in a virtual journey back through your evolutionary past to where extinct creatures will appear to roam around you in the studio. The interactive film uses a mix of CGI models developed with support of the Wellcome Trust, BBC natural history footage and interviews with leading Natural History Museum scientists to explore how we have gradually evolved from the earliest life form. 

Thanks to an innovative partnership with BBC Research & Development, this is be the first time augmented reality - the blending of computer graphics into real life – is used in a high profile public space in this way.

Sir David Attenborough commented, ‘Who do you think you really are? features completely unique film making technology to tell the story of how we evolved from the simplest living creatures, and how we share our DNA with a huge variety of life. It is my hope that through this exciting and innovative film we can continue to inspire the next generation to take a step towards securing our planet’s future.’

During the film you will discover how we are related to dinosaurs, early humans and even bananas by using the unique handset to send images to screens around the studio, interact with Museum scientists, play with virtual specimens and take part in quizzes. These handsets are windows into the past. Augmented reality allows computer generated images of Coelophysis, Homo erectus and an intricate tree of life to appear as if they are in the studio with you. They can be followed around, highlighting a unique life-like presence in the studio.

During the film scientists also give you virtual gifts. 

At home you can log-on to www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus to access gifts and a rich resource of additional information, including augmented reality clips and forums discussing Who do you think you really are?

Who do you think you really are? is shown in the Attenborough Studio where innovative technology, Museum specimens, live animals, spectacular natural history film footage and Museum scientists come together to create an inspiring programme of free daily films and live events.

Dates and times: every day at 15.30, most weekends at 11.00
Admission: free
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000
Nearest tube: South Kensington
Website: www.nhm.ac.uk

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Notes for editors

  • The Who do you think you really are? Team includes: Executive Producer Ailsa Barry; Film Producer Mark Jacobs and Interactive Media Producer Philippa Watson. It was written by Ailsa Barry and Mark Jacobs and is presented by David Attenborough. Interactives and web development were designed and developed in house by the Natural History Museum’s Interactive Media team. Animations were designed by Shadow Industries. Augmented Reality was developed by BBC Research & Development and TraceMedia.
  • Major support for the film came from the BBC, David Attenborough and the Wellcome Trust.
  • The Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum is a state-of-the-art scientific research and collections facility that is used by more than 200 scientists at a time. It is also an awe-inspiring new public space inviting visitors to explore the natural world in an exciting and innovative way. The architectural highlight is a 65-metre-long, eight-storey-high cocoon – the largest sprayed concrete, curved structure in Europe. 
  • Major supporters of the Darwin Centre include the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Wellcome Trust, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, The Garfield Weston Foundation, the Cadogan family, Professor Anthony and Mrs Angela Marmont, GlaxoSmithKline plc, The Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation, The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation and Anglo American plc.

For more information and images, please contact the Natural History Museum Press Office:
Tel: 020 7942 5654 email: press@nhm.ac.uk (not for publication)