TU Delft – Deep DRAM Meta materials

The final version of the Deep-DRAM animation.

The Technical University of Delft reached out for an explainer animation to empower the release of their Deep-DRAM research paper .
The goal was to explain the model briefly and generate attention and interest.

We only had a matter of weeks before the research paper was expected to be released, so we had a tight deadline to work with.
Fortunately there was already a pretty elaborate script we could work of, created by the client.
Based on that script I collected images and put together a moodboard and sketched the scenes in a storyboard to form a base for the animation design.

Moodboard v1: Created with character animation and realistic 3D graphics in mind.
Storyboard v1: A lot of different scenes and use of different characters.

The idea was to create a fun(ny) animation with some characters to lighten up the serious nature of the research paper.
Unfortunately we noticed that the tight deadline and available budget made it difficult to use (a lot of) characters and realistic 3D. So instead of characters we added more schematics/diagrams based on the research paper and made the story more grounded.

Moodboard v2: Adjusted after switching characters for diagrams. Also less details in the 3D design.
Storyboard v2: Characters made way for a more schematic and simplified “inside the computer” world.

Creating a storyboard like this gives the client the opportunity to visualise what will be on screen during the spoken voice-over text. Because we removed the characters the total animation would become a bit less fun to watch. So to lighten it up again I created a fun color palette for the 2D “computer world”.

Color palette: Based on the TU Delft base color (first 2) and completed by an additional fun selection of colors.

Combining the moodboard, storyboard and colors I started working on the design of the animation.

2D designboard “back-calculating scene”: The design and layout was later adjusted in the final animation (see below).

The Deep-DRAM model had to be re-designed and simplified for the animation, to be quicker to understand for the viewer.

Provided image by client: Original Deep-DRAM model
2D designboard “Deep-DRAM”: Re-designed and simplified version of the Deep-DRAM model.

After the 2D designs were approved I started working on the 3D scenes.
Because they are the most time consuming to create, I wanted to get them done first, so we wouldn’t run into any risks of potential delays.

3D design collapsing hut: I distributed all the sticks into seperate objects and used dynamics to give them weight and the ability to collide with eachother and the floor.
3D design exo-skeleton: It’s a very simple rig. To make the legs walk, I put the parts into 3 parent groups for each leg (upper leg, lower leg and foot) and a hip. By placing the anchor points of the groups on the hipbone, knee and ankle, I could rotate the groups from those points and create a walking exo-skeleton.

The final phase was to combine the 2D and 3D designs and animate it all together.
In order to have a seamless transition from the 3D to the 2D world I created a 3D null object and extracted that together with the 3D camera from the 3D file.
This 3D null object could function as a parent for the 2D elements, so they would follow the exact movement of position of the 3D null object when I moved the camera.

Combining 2D and 3D: The null object(purple square) is following the camera movement. The yellow and red objects are parented to that null object, so they follow the exact same position and it looks like the objects are actually displayed on the monitor while the camera flies into it.

After animating all the 2D elements I gave them a 3D look, to make it feel more cohesive with the 3D scenes.

2D animated “back-calculating scene” (original design can be found above): The 2D animated scenes were given some 3D depth by extruding the shapes and making them rotate in 3D space.

After adding the provided TU Delft intro and outro animations, the project was finished on time and the client was happy with the result:

M. J. Mirzaali (Assistant Professor TU Delft): “I very much enjoyed working with you, it was a difficult topic, and it is very nice to see how you made it an easy understanding video.”

Research paper source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/adma.202303481

The final version of the Deep-DRAM animation.