Case Study: Underwater Pompeii


Brief: To illustrate the layout and position of an ancient Roman town and key locations.

Our Approach: Given the restriction of the budget and the number of elements required, we knew that a photo-real approach was not going to work so started thinking about a stylisation that would do the job. We had previously used ‘ambient occlusion’, a technique where only very soft shadows between objects are rendered, to great effect in ITV England but we felt the need to take the look a step further. Looking at footage that had already been shot we decided on a palette of deep aqua and white and to fit in with the underwater feel we added a sky-like rippling water.


The Pitch: We decided on an animation test of a temple, something we could use in the programme. It turned out a temple was the one roman building not in Baiea so we couldn’t use it in the end but it proved the point well and we were appointed the job on the strength of this test.

Although remains of an underwater town has been studied near Naples since the 1960’s, this was the first time new research pulled all the evidence together

Building the city: We researched a number of typical roman buildings and having had sign off from the client we had these built by one of our modellers. These were then duplicated, along with simpler block models to populate the city. We augmented client research with our one and produced a base map on which to place the buildings. Using  satellite height data of the region we were then able to add relief to the model.

The Look: Instead of investing our time trying to texture a photo-real roman town we decided to use simple geometry with light modelling to create the look. The end results with our two tone palette was a more beautiful.