Mechanism Digital Animates Impending Apocalypse for National Geographic

New York, NY, February 13, 2010 --( Mechanism Digital completed 24 pivotal shots of animation and visual effects for a one-hour National Geographic special, Earth Without the Moon which premiered February 4, 2010. Producer Marabella Productions worked closely with Mechanism to depict the massive global effect upon the Earth when the Moon finally slips out of her orbit.

Scientists have determined that as the Moon orbits the Earth, it moves an inch and a half further away each year. If it moves just 25,000 miles more, the Moon’s gravity will no longer hold Earth in its stable 23.5 degree axis. When this happens, Earth will tip over, devastating the climate, planet and life as we know it. This potential cataclysm is dramatically illustrated when Mechanism captures the world’s greatest structural and artistic icons in the midst of a dramatic global transformation.

Mechanism’s artists and producers had the pleasure of creating photo realistic, New York City’s CitiCorp Building, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue, Mount Rushmore and the Eiffel Tower. This was quickly followed by destroying CitiCorp in a horrific hurricane, sheering off George Washington’s face, toppling The Redeemer and burying Paris’s Eiffel Tower in the greatest sandstorm in history.

Extensive research took place at Marabella’s studio and additional independent research continued at Mechanism’s Chelsea studio. Intergalactic and global shifts portrayed are based upon actual calculations of the gravitational effect of the Moon on the Earth, along with shifting of seas and atmospheres due to the resulting inverted axis of the Earth.

One of the more memorable days of production for the Mechanism crew was hands-on experimentation where Art Director Mark Palkoski and VFX Supervisor Lucien Harriot paced the darkened studio with a globe and a flashlight -- spinning the earth and shining the flashlight as the sun. Before building and animating could commence, they needed to fully understand how polar ice caps would mutate if Earth were twisted from its current 23.5 degree axis onto a 90 degree axis. “We really love doing this kind of work. It’s much more than sitting in front of a computer all day -- we learn all sorts of facts about the world of the project and then we have fun animating it,” said Palkoski. Through their calculations, they realized that the ice caps would completely melt and then reform above and below the equator, alternating each year.

Earth Without the Moon is Mechanism Digital’s 9th creation for National Geographic. Previous specials included Secret World of Fireworks, Megastructures and Inside Grand Central.

Mechanism Digital, Inc.
Deborah Roth