Luke Nguyen’s India on SBS: The 3D Animated Journey

Case Study | Making the 3D animated sequences for Luke Nguyen’s India on SBS On Demand


animation is a powerful tool that can help create visually appealing videos.

It’s relevant to your business if you want to showcase your products or services in an engaging way, explain complex concepts, or tell informative or entertaining stories – which is exactly why our services were requested in this case! Check it out.

Did You Know?…: 3D animation became a popular tool in the 1990s (and fast forward to now and it’s being used seemingly everywhere!)

The Story of Luke Nguyen’s India on SBS

Creative Media Productions – a TV production company in Melbourne – came to us as a professional reference from a client. They needed a 3D animation for one of their shows in pre-production: Luke Nguyen’s India.

Creative Media Productions is well-known for the beautiful and interactive maps on the show. They sent us a few examples first, to make sure we could deliver their vision and level of excellence. Which, of course, we could!

Our brief: deliver an appealing animated map, depicting Luke’s overall journey across 11 destinations around India, as well as a ‘bumper graphic’ (see later in this article). They also asked that we provide animated sequences of Luke’s travel from destination to destination, and an extra separate sequence focusing on an important destination related to the cooking aspect of the show.

It’s a cooking & travel show which follows the journey of Luke around India as he discovers the local cuisine

Check out the show, ‘Luke Nguyen’s India’ on SBS On Demand: HERE

The Challenges and Opportunities

1 – 3D instead of 2.5D

The previous maps the company had done were in 2.5D. To understand what this means, imagine a flat background with an impression of depth – usually using diagonal lines and perspective techniques. It’s 2D that almost looks like 3D.

It’s a hybrid method for designers who haven’t mastered 3D techniques. Thankfully, we are experts in 3D and knew the final result would be more visually impactful and better suited for the show. When we offered to produce the animation in 3D, the production company happily accepted. 

2 – Finding the general look and style…

Of the map – This map needed to have some character, something that made it interesting, and hinted to adventure.

The goal was to make this feel like an old treasure map, and we worked to give it that parchment appearance. There’s an impression of dirt along the rivers and boundaries and a grungy effect. The cities’ names look like they could have been written with an old quill.

Of the Tuk-tuk  – At the beginning stage, the Tuk-tuk was very simple but looked a bit too plain for the overall vibe of the show and the map.

In India, they use a lot of flowers ornamentally, especially garlands of flowers that they drape around things. So we decided to add this cultural aspect, and straight away, it gave some character to our Tuk-tuk.

3 – Going from destination to destination

The value of a customizable solution – This means that we created a 3D model of the Tuk-tuk like a remote-controlled car for kids. It is a mini toy, similar to one controlled in a videogame, and we can make it go where we want through a tool in our software.

4 – The size of the sequences

Each sequence delivered was created as a mega-wide version (ratio of 2.35:1) – almost good enough for a cinema screen – with a lot of details, with a flexible composition layout so the format could be adapted to any kind of medium and proportioned media; square (1:1), wide (16:9), tall screen (9:16), banner etc…

5 – One overall map sequence & 11 zoomed-in city sequences

The main map of India has 11 destinations, and for each destination, we created this ‘zoomed in’ effect.

Each destination-to-destination sequence is actually not zoomed in from the main map (using a ‘Far’ camera angle) but instead they have a different map with a higher ‘level of detail’ (for a ‘Close’ camera angle), which showcases more details and textures. We also added an animated ‘circling’ of the city name which could also be reduced in detail as needs be.

Without being too technical, creating these maps can be a huge time sink for those new to 3D, so making these sequences in this way actually helps us optimise our time producing them, yet still showing off all the beautiful textures and 3D models, keeping the overall engaging aspect to the animation.

In 3D animation, there are many ways to do something, but the best way is faster to do, yet still produces a high quality result.

A note from our team: We wouldn’t be able to reach this high quality of work in such a remarkable amount of time without our previous years of experience working with people on TV and videogame production. This is an important aspect to look out for if you want a designer who can do animated 3D.

6 – ‘Bumper Graphic’

In the introduction / title sequence that Creative Media Productions put together, they noticed the cool looking ‘Luke Nguyen’s India’ wording drawn/placed onto the ground.

They reached out to Visual Targets to produce a ‘bumper graphic’ which was a high resolution, redrawn recreation of that wording, with a transparent background, for use as an overlay over the video footage at the end, or ‘bumper’ of each segment of the show, before it went to a commercial break.

The Results

The company reached out in July, we had a first meeting face-to-face, the rest was online, and we finalised in August for the editing of the TV show for a starting date in September.

This was actually what we call ‘dream work’, and almost a ‘slam dunk’ for our basketball fans. It was incredibly interesting work and we only had to make some minor changes after sending our updates to them.

Creative Media Productions was really happy with the result. Check out the review they left us!…: “Visual Targets have produced some fantastic work for us – always of a high quality and on time. They understand and go one step further” – John Hatcher – Google business review

Check out the show, ‘Luke Nguyen’s India’ on SBS On Demand: HERE

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