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Unified Field (New York), Evidence Design (Brooklyn) and the California Science Center (Los Angeles) collaborated with a few furry friends to create a new media-rich traveling exhibition called “Dogs! A Science Tail.”
By Marla Supnick and Greg Peduto
They’re cute, they’re smart and some of their senses are superpowers. “Dogs! A Science Tail,” the new, 9,000-square-foot traveling exhibition currently at the California Science Center, explores the indelible bond between humans and dogs. Unified Field created all the digital media and linear media films for the exhibition that is sure to make guests say, “awwww.” The entire exhibition is ADA Accessible and bilingual with text and audio in both English and Spanish.
Unified Field—experts in location based digital experiences—created all the of digital interactives, linear media films and immersive experiences that allow guests to see, hear and run like a dog—and much more. In “Be a Dog Scientist,” Unified Field created a virtual version of the laboratory of neuroscientist and New York Times Bestselling author, Dr. Gregory Berns, where guests can recreate his MRI studies of dogs. Dr. Burns provided voiceover for the interactive, guiding guests through his experiments. In this gesture-based experience, guests participate in very serious science, while experimenting, learning and having great fun.
In Jeopawdy, three players can participate in a dog-themed interactive game of Jeopardy. But the puppy love doesn’t end there: The “Dog Crowdsourcing” wall invites visitors to upload photos and videos of their favorite pooch and share their cuteness with other guests. At “Bond with a Dog,” guests practice tricks and commands, encouraging their life-sized virtual dog to interact and bond. Guests’ laughter and connection with each other around these exhibits says so much about our connection and affinity with dogs and the community of humans that care for them.
Unified Field worked closely with exhibition design firm Evidence Design and the California Science Center to be certain that the experiences communicated their mission and to ensure that all media matched the style, intention and objectives of the overall exhibition. The California Science Center contracted with Evidence Design to develop the look and feel and final design of the exhibition; after developing the overall vision and educational messaging for the exhibit, California Science Center worked closely with the Evidence Design team to develop the graphic style, over-arching illustration style, wall graphics and interactive experiences through an iterative process. Unified Field then interpreted the styles of the graphic identity system and illustration styles into their animations and experiences from dogs, and wolves to cave people and contemporary veterinarians.
The exhibit will be opened at the California Science Center through early January 2020, after which, it will travel to museums around the country or even to other countries. To that end, one of the key criteria for success was creating an exhibit that was truly diverse, accepting and accessible to all visitors. In support of that challenge, the Unified Field team ensured that the casting of all films and videos met the Science Center’s diversity policies: The entire exhibition is ADA accessible and bilingual, with all text and audio in both English and Spanish. Unified Field developed an ADA iOS app designed to assist visitors who are blind or visually challenged to navigate the exhibition and absorb all of the rich experiences and content. The app, which is available in the Apple iTunes store, uses Bluetooth beacons to notify guests as they move from location to location in the exhibit, triggering the appropriate content and resources on their phone or on a museum-supplied device.
In “Hear Like a Dog,” Unified Field created three triggered immersive soundscapes that let guests listen to the world in dog sound frequency. The nearby “Dog Ears” explains canine directional hearing with two audio tracks, then an immersive soundscape invites guests into a maze filled with audio greetings.
Closer to the ground, “See Like a Dog” takes guests on a dog’s eye tour of the world. To make this very specific POV film, Unified Field constructed a doggie-cam and shot footage in locations ranging from Times Square to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A favorite with guests, they put their own heads inside of a sculpted dog head and see the projected video through special lenses that manipulates the color spectrum to simulate doggy vision.
In addition to all of the interactive media, Unified Field created 15 linear media films for Dogs! A Science Tail. The intro film, “From Predator to Pooch: Dog Evolution,” explores the 10,000-year-old bond between humans and dogs. The film is packed with original and sourced footage, original animations and 3D models all custom created by Unified Field to tell a complicated scientific history, in a brief and delightful animated tale. Another unique film, the “Dog Infomercial” is a hilarious spoof—on both pharmaceutical commercial and infomercial—extolling the health benefits inherent in relationships between dogs and humans. Visitors can watch it from either a human or a dog POV, and both are equally funny and engaging.
Nearby, the “Dog Care Kiosk,” an interactive video station, offers guests a humorous exploration of common pet care dos and don’ts, staring Lunchbox the Wonder Pup! The production mixes live-action with humorous animations to create a veterinarian’s office in a magical world reminiscent of a child’s drawing come to life. Here, seven bilingual videos detail responsible dog care including diet, socialization, vet care, indoor hazards and other pertinent canine issues in ways that visitors will never forget.
Unified Field shot and produced several documentary shorts including the “Future of Dogs” and “Partners with Paws.” The Future of Dogs explores the work of dog scientists at Emory University, Georgia Tech, and NC State and highlights the groundbreaking work being conducted in these labs. Another video and interactive kiosk details the Nation’s largest provider of service dogs, Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that teaches dogs to care for humans with disabilities. In this video visitors see dogs assisting humans who have physical or cognitive challenges. They do more than assist, they transform lives. The Canine Companion dogs and their humans care for each other in the most profound and amazing ways. The dogs provide a range of duties, custom trained to flip on light switches, answer phones and other transactions that range from helpful to essential.
Unified Field considers themselves fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on the interactive programs and linear media films for this fantastic project with unparalleled clients and partners. The California Science Center team worked as close collaborators throughout all phases of the project. The extraordinarily talented design firm, Evidence Design, planned, conceptualized and designed the exhibits.
On the furrier side, Unified Field selected the Dawn Animal Agency, suppliers of the top dogs and trainers in show business for their doggy performers and actors; these pups have stared in Broadway shows, Netflix series’ and national commercials. Dog Care Kiosk and Infomercial were shot, cast and created with the assistance of Thursday Shoots and a talented cast of canine and human actors.
The bilingual films and interactive media were translated and voiced in English and in Spanish by the Amador family. The AV hardware configuration was designed and installed by Electrosonic and the exhibits were fabricated by Pacific Studios.
Project Name: Dogs! A Science Tail
Client: California Science Center
Location: Los Angeles
Open Date: March 2019
Project Area: 9,000 sq ft
Exhibition Design: Evidence Design
Fabrication: Pacific Studios
A/V Integration: Electrosonic
Interactive Experience Design: Unified Field
Photography & Videography: Greg Peduto & Daniel Mahon