Nelson St Cycleway

Where: Auckland, New Zealand
When: October 2015

What: New Zealand Transport Agency Auckland and Auckland Transport commissioned Buildmedia to create a two-minute-long 3d visualisation of the proposed Nelson Street Cycleway to build up hype in the lead-up to its opening.

The cycleway was to be a key part of Auckland’s evolving cycle network and one of the country’s most ambitious and colourful pieces of cycling infrastructure, complete with LED lighting and bright magenta pink surfacing. This presentation needed to show the public the cycleway would be an open, inviting and awesome place to be within.

Because the 1km cycleway runs alongside New Zealand’s busiest interchange, Spaghetti Junction, many of the images required to create the animation couldn’t be obtained using conventional photography and so Buildmedia had to rely on using its existing Auckland City 3d model (a model the company has compiled over several years) to form as the backdrop. Because of this 3d model, Buildmedia was able to create the Nelson Street animation in less than four weeks.


As with every one of buildmedia’s animation projects the structure of the presentation was thoroughly storyboarded before moving into production. Each shot was planned as a sequence that formed the greater presentation to ensure all key messages were captured.


Obtaining the time-lapse footage needed was also difficult because there were only a few locations around the busy intersection from where time-lapse photography could be obtained.

This was the first time we used a new device from Alpine labs called Micron to automatically trigger the time-lapse photography at regular intervals controlled by an iPhone. All up, around 30,000 time-lapse photos were obtained, which we used to assemble approximately 30 seconds of final footage.

To obtain the best shots at the right time of day, multiple site visits needed to be made.


Another intricate aspect was the creation of footage of cyclists riding bikes. The cyclists and the bikes were 3d modelled, but to achieve the desired level of realism and ensure they moved naturally and in the correct direction, buildmedia incorporated motion-captured footage of actual cyclists. This proved to be a bigger task than was first expected as the 3d bikes models were at different sizes and in varying positions; feet had to be married up with pedals, hands with handlebars and bums on seats.

Despite these challenges, buildmedia produced a realistic, detailed 3d vision of an important aspect of Auckland’s growing transport network. Currently the 3d visualisation has been shared across all of New Zealand’s mainstream media including the TVNZ show – Better Together.

You can find more out on Auckland Transport’s web site.

The feedback has been excellent, it was executed incredibly well. You guys were so great to work with.

– Leone / Communications & Stakeholder Manager / NZTA