A Curious World: The Bronze Age Produced and animated by Pixeldust Studios

Pixeldust Studios created more than 75 original animations for a three-part original series entitled A CURIOUS WORLD about the Bronze Age. The new series airs on CuriosityStream, the nonfiction SVOD service launched by Discovery founder John Hendricks earlier this year.

A CURIOUS WORLD: THE BRONZE AGE covers 2,000 years of history in the Aegean/Mediterranean, Egypt and Near East from roughly 3000 BC to 1000 BC.  New animations produced by Pixeldust include the reconstruction of four ancient capitals, including the Egyptian city of Thebes and the early Greek capital of Mycenae. The series will premiere on CuriosityStream in January 2016.

“We were extremely excited about this project from the very beginning,” says Pixeldust President and Creative Director Ricardo Andrade. “We knew it would be a big challenge for us to depict the Bronze Age in animations, considering that artifacts and ruins from this time period are not as abundant for reference material as are those from Classical Greece or Rome. We did extensive research, and our production team worked closely with Bronze Age experts to ensure our animations would be as historically accurate as possible.”

Regarding Pixeldust’s work on this series, CuriosityStream President Elizabeth Hendricks North said, “It’s incredible the level of detail and amount of research that goes into historical 3D animations. We’re thrilled to have Pixeldust as a part in bringing this vibrant era back to life for our original series A CURIOUS WORLD.”

Each episode in the series will run between 18-20 minutes.  Pixeldust animators are using Maya as their main 3D application along with Mental Ray renderer.  After Effects is being used for compositing.

“For the reconstruction of Thebes, where up to 80,000 inhabitants once lived, it’s a little like working with a jigsaw puzzle,” says Pixeldust CG Supervisor Samar Shool.  “We started with a Google maps layout of the modern city. Then, we combined imagery of the ancient ruins to geo-locate them on the existing map. Once we had our custom map finished, we painted in the ancient city streets and houses, along with temples, reflecting pools, statues and tombs.”

“From there, we imported all the information into our 3D software, Maya, and erected the 3d model of the city,” Shool continues.  “Then, using our CGI camera, we had the flexibility to fly over any area of the city.  For these 3D shots, we’re were trying to simulate realistic, physical lighting by using HDRs as a light source.”

For many of the other animations featured within the series, Pixeldust used 2.5D camera mapping on frescoes and ancient artifacts.  “Many of these images came from the Bridgeman Art Library, which provides one of the largest archives for art reproductions in the world,” explained Pixeldust VP and Supervising Producer Elizabeth Andrade.  “Through the magic of animation, we were able to add motion and breathe new life into artwork that is thousands of years old.”

Watch Part 1: Rise of Civilization at https://app.curiositystream.com/collection/225/?utm_campaign=Share&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=email&utm_content=1342 and at https://vimeo.com/pixelduststudios/review/143815014/ff04fa71a9.