Mrs. K & Motion504 uncover the The mystery behind Hatshepsut, one of the most successful female pharaohs of Egypt, is given new life in a compelling Discovery Channel program, “Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen.” To promote the show, film production and motion design company Mrs. K commissioned animation studio motion504 to create a :30 piece that unearths the legacy of Hatshepsut, the queen who would be king of Egypt.
The world broadcast premiere of “Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen,” which aired last night, follows a team of top forensic experts and archaeologists, led by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, as they use – for the first time ever – the full range of forensic technology available today to identify Hatshepsut.
Reinforcing the archaeological and scientific nature of the documentary, the promo opens on motion graphics and a voiceover, “3000 years ago, the most powerful man on Earth… was a woman.” As the type fades into clouds of sand, the camera plunges through a hieroglyphics-inscribed wall into a biological environment of X chromosomes. The body of the piece then promotes show footage and key people behind the discovery before dust particles and spinning stone-chiseled letters animate into a dramatic logo reveal.
“For this project, Discovery was looking for a connection between ancient Egypt and 21st century forensic technology,” explains Jeanne Kopeck, Mrs. K Creative Director. “In our concepting and design phase we found an interesting connection between the look of DNA samples and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, and that was exactly the type of link Discovery was looking for to inspire this promotional piece.”
Discovery Channel wanted a dramatic feel to the promo in terms of the scale and quality of the stone-sculpted elements. Mrs. K and motion504 created dusty, organic typography elements to maintain consistency with a tomb setting. Rather than relying solely on particle animation effects, Mitch Monson, Mrs. K Creative Director, and Scott Wenner, motion504 Creative Director/Designer, integrated actual dust footage with CG elements. The transition to the DNA then provided an interesting contrast of moving from the ancient world into a CG scientific environment.
“We built a CG stone room, using photos as texture maps on 3D objects, and also executed a 3D camera move through the wall,” says Wenner. “On a technical level, the animated logo reveal was tricky because the stone letters had to look and move a specific way.”
“I re-created Mitch’s 2D logo design in 3D,” continues Wenner. “The nature of the logo is crude and chiseled out of stone. Each letter had to be modeled into this organic shape and then animated together. The great part is that Mitch and I always work well together. We explore what works and what doesn’t, and then try new ideas until we arrive at the best solution.”
To create “Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen,” motion504 used Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects for compositing, Maxon Cinema 4D for 3D and Pixologic ZBrush for components of the hieroglyphics wall.
“The challenge was trying to figure out the unique transition between the ancient and forensic worlds,” concludes Monson. “That was such a huge aspect of this discovery. Scott and I worked on several ways to incorporate that mix into the front end of the promo. The boards made the design look straightforward, but there were many intricate parts and timings – and Scott did a phenomenal job of creating a real, textural quality to the logo.”
A version of the promo was also created by Mrs. K and motion504 for the Science Channel.
motion504 is a broadcast design and animation studio, which specializes in the art of motion. Featuring the talents of senior-level creative directors, designers and animators, the company has done work for film, TV, advertising and music clients including Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and mega artist Beyonc?¬¨¬© Knowles. motion504, with its open studio space, is built upon the idea of collaboration through communication, critique and contribution amongst its artists and clients. This collective philosophy lends itself to the company’s talent contributing to each and every project, and drawing upon their creative skills and technical experience in design, animation, 3D modeling, illustration and visual effects.
Client: Mrs. K
Creative Directors: Jeanne Kopeck & Mitch Monson Executive Producer: Peter Thron
Producer: Donna Carver
Editorial & Sound Design Company: Splice Here
Editor: Herman Nieuwoudt
Editor: Steve Fischer
Sound Design/Mix: Kelly Pieklo
Producer: Eric Mueller
Design & Animation Company: motion504
Creative Director/Designer: Scott Wenner