Who do you think you really are? team

Press release - 10 November 2010

Find out who's behind the Museum's latest augmented reality film

Natural History Museum Interactive Media team
The Museum’s Interactive Media team is a multi-disciplinary team of highly experienced editors, designers, software developers and specialist producers. It covers the development of the Museum’s digital output including web, gallery interactives and film production. The in-house team was integral to the production of the interactive film. They designed and developed the handheld interfaces, interactive elements, software, system integration, film and web development.

Natural History Museum Special Effects team
The Natural History Museum’s Special Effects team is made up predominantly of electronics engineers who design, build and maintain the Electronic/AV control system in the gallery exhibits. The Media Technician team technically facilitates the Learning department's programme of activities in the Attenborough studio, including the interactive film, as well as maintain the complete system.

BBC Natural History Unit
The award-winning BBC’s Natural History Unit is the world’s largest in-house production team for wildlife programmes, producing a diverse output for TV, radio, online and for the cinema. It has created a world-class reputation for ambitious and groundbreaking factual programmes. Recent TV series made by the Bristol-based Unit include Life, Lost Land of the Tiger, live presenter-led series, such as Springwatch and Autumnwatch; and multiplatform content, such as the hugely popular Wildlife Finder. Currently in production are Frozen Planet, Africa and Nature’s Miracle Babies. The BBC Natural History Unit provided some of the footage featured in the interactive film.

BBC Research & Development
BBC Research & Development built on its expertise in broadcast virtual graphics to develop a camera tracking system that allows the position and orientation of the handheld devices to be accurately determined.  This information enables the virtual models, which includes dinosaurs and prehistoric humans, to be drawn to match the position of the handheld, giving each member of the audience their own moveable window on our evolutionary past. BBC R&D is a world-leading centre for media production and broadcasting technology. It provides technology development and expertise in support of the BBC’s 6th public service purpose to deliver the benefits of emerging technologies ands services to licence fee payers.

Cultural Innovations
Cultural Innovations (CI) is a consultancy specialising in providing technical project management services to museum clients.  CI developed the Attenborough Studio and handheld and audio-visual hardware to a tenderable stage and oversaw procurement of the hardware supplier IVC Media.  CI managed IVC’s delivery and the critical interface with the fit-out contractor and the museums special effects and interactive media departments.

IVC Media was the systems integrator and lead contractor which helped bring the Natural History Museum’s exciting vision to life.  IVC Media designed the bespoke hand-held touch screens on which the interactive film can be viewed.  IVC’s total understanding of the open nature of today’s Mobile and fixed networks and technologies allows the company to engage with clients like the Natural History Museum to conceptualise, design, supply and deliver the most sophisticated bespoke multimedia systems to meet the demands of twenty first century enterprises across the EMEA and beyond.

Melford Electronics Ltd
Melford is proud to be involved in such a publicly visible and innovative product. The interactive film solution at the Natural History Museum offers visitors a unique learning experience which requires the implementation of the latest technology and leading edge design.  Working closely with IVC Media and The Natural History Museum, Melford designed and manufactured the electronics hardware required to fulfil the expectations of such a forward thinking attraction. Melford Digital, the advertising and digital application division of Melford, boasts a vastly experienced design team with in house prototyping, testing and manufacture, all on site at High Wycombe, England.

Pentagram is a distinguished international design consultancy with offices in New York, London, and Berlin. Founded in 1972, the firm has a unique multi-disciplinary approach. Daniel Weil and William Russell two partners from the London office have created the physical environment for this remarkable interactive experience, the first augmented reality theatre.  Russell designed the interior of the Attenborough Studio and Weil created the deliberately rugged handheld devices which allow the public to interact with their evolutionary history, demonstrating previously hidden aspects of the natural world using BBC natural history footage and the expertise of the Natural History Museum scientists.

Shadow Industries
Shadow Industries creates bespoke solutions for film, television, exhibitions, and interactive, providing highly experienced designers, digital artists, and specialist producers for a wide range of moving-image, CGI animation, and visual effects projects around the world. Working with a panel of experts from both the Natural History Museum and other leading academic institutions, Shadow spent six months creating CGI creature animations, for the reconstructed six extinct species, for the Studio's main 40 minute multi-screen film, and Augmented Reality system.

TraceMedia specialises in visualisations and applications that explore the creative potential of new technologies. For ‘Who do you think you really are?’ TraceMedia produced the Augmented Reality software that acts as the glue between the BBC tracking system, Shadow Industries models and the handheld interactive.

Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests. The Wellcome Trust provided funding for the development of the CGI elements of the interactive film, including the amazing Tree of Life graphic.


Notes for editors

  • 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 over 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)