Trans-Tasman Resources iron ore animation

When: July 2015
Location: Hawera Coast, Taranaki, New Zealand

What: Last year, we were commissioned by Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) to create something slightly outside of our ordinary scope of work. TTR required a way to communicate the complex process involved in its plan to extract iron ore off the coast of Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand, and then present it clearly and succinctly to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

A previously application had already been submitted using traditional printed documents consisting of plans and complicated diagrams. Unfortunately due to the complex nature of the presentation material and the difficulty of understanding the scale and process the EPA had a tough time comprehending the application.

This time around, TTR contacted Buildmedia to create a simple,concise presentation to showcase the step by step process, the scale of the hardware and its effects on the environment.

Being a highly controversial topic, one of the challenges was to remain completely unbiased and create an objective presentation; something that showed just the facts.

Being a highly controversial topic, one of the challenges was to remain completely unbiased and create an objective presentation

We spent a large part of the three-month project period storyboarding, gathering information and working out just how we were going to communicate key messages. We showed how far the rig was off the coast, how visible it was to beach-goers, and the area of the seafloor that would be extracted. It was also important to show the exclusive extraction area and ban areas (parts of the seabed the mining wouldn’t happen), and what was involved in the 30-day extraction process.

It was also a great challenge to 3d model the machinery involved in the working process. We created the massive rig itself and crawlers (the things that pick up the iron underwater). We scattered the rig with workers to help demonstrate its scale (335m x 60m).

Possibly the biggest challenge, though, was that we chose to use one continuous shot for the entire animation (for the first time ever!). This meant fitting together several 3d models; when the animation drops underwater, we transition from one camera to another and to make that appear seamless is a lot harder than it looks. Although the one-shot effect required a heap of work, we’re really pleased with the visual result.

the attention to detail involved within the project was truly remarkable


We dealt with many engineers, scientists and stakeholders to gather a huge wealth of technical details. Throughout the process we got to understand the extraction process in full.

TTR gathered information such as colour of the sand and the water in the proposed extraction area so that we could match it as accurately as possible as well as detailed wildlife conservation plans so we could include hints of this in the presentation too; the attention to detail involved in this project was truly remarkable.

The project was an interesting one to work with, not only because of the level of detail, but as it was outside of our normal scope of day to day work. Although we were working with a unique topic, the process and outcome was the same as every other project.

Condense a highly complicated process down to a simple and concise, watchable 3 minute long presentation.

We think the team did a brilliant job of achieving this.