Yeasts, moulds, spores and mushrooms are rarely celebrated enough, but that’s all been changing for the mycologists at London’s Kew Gardens, home to the world’s biggest and oldest fungarium with over 1.25 million specimens in its collection of fungi. So not surprisingly it was the perfect choice to launch the world’s first ‘State Of The World’s Fungi’ Symposium. The two-day event brought scientists from all over the planet together to discuss the health of these remarkable organisms.
To coincide with the symposium Layla was asked to create a short film about the uses of fungi. Kew’s outstanding collection of botanical drawings became a natural starting point for the look of the film. Yet Layla was careful to ensure these gorgeous illustrations didn’t dictate the film’s content. Kew conducts research at the leading edge of science. DNA sequencing has enabled phylogenetic research to be conducted on various ancient fungus in Kew’s collection. Marrying Victorian illustrations of fungi with illustrations of contemporary scientific technology, such as the stereo microscopes used by Kew’s microbiologists, which required a particular graphic style that Layla mastered.
Some of Kew’s botanical illustrations had the feel of old anatomical flap books. This gave Layla the idea of using an interactive book format as the vehicle for the films action. Portals open, pages turn, images slide as information is conveyed on the wonders of fungi. A beautifully textured paper was created that added interest and depth to the finished film while a palette supplied by Kew ensured the whole film came together. The new illustrations of all the scientific equipment were created in Adobe Animate by tracing and cleaning up photographs of particular objects. While some objects were quick to draw others like the illustration of Kew’s recently renovated Temperate House took a whole day to create.
The finished film was well received by staff at Kew as well as the delegates of the Symposium. Layla noted “I never appreciated how important fungi were to the health of the planet and although we had very little time to create the film I wanted to ensure we created a film that conveyed that information”.
The film was created using Cinema 4D, Adobe Animate, Photoshop and Illustrator. The film was commissioned by Ben Witt at Kew.
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Director Layla Atkinson
Producer Richard Barnett
Compositing Rok Predin
Artworking Biddy Lloyd
Animation Layla Atkinson Leslie Dart
Commisioner Ben Witt at Kew