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Mote Marine Porthole

The Brief

To imply a truly immersive experience for the aquarium visitor, create an animation that will be shown through a porthole inside an elevator giving the illusion of the elevator submerging underwater.


Mote is an independent, nonprofit marine research institution comprising world-class marine scientists committed to the belief that the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans begins with research and education.

Emotional Takeaway

Fun! Science is awesome! Our new aquarium seeks to celebrate and encourage that joy and creativity. Can the audience form a connection with the animated animals during a brief elevator ride?

I collaborated on this project with my colleague Mackenzie Schlagenhaft. We decided it would be a fun and useful first step to visit Mote Marine and get a sense of what they're all about.

We noted the mood and colors of the space, in addition to their emphasis on education and preservation. 

Our takeaway was that a more realistic style would fit the best with Mote's goals for this project. Some elements we prioritized were appealing blues and greens, a sense of depth and environment, and light.

Two Direction Pitch

Direction 01: Ocean Depths


Direction 02: Teal Gulf

We pitched two distinctly different directions that each featured elements we felt were important: depth, lighting, and realism. We felt Direction 02 was more effective due to the realistic illustration and sense of lighting.

Some feedback was to incorporate brighter colors and find a unique way to display the scene that expanded upon the initial porthole concept. It should be accessible to people of all heights standing in a potentially crowded elevator.

Refinement, Experimentation, and Context
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Artboard 1.png

We decided that a unique and educational approach could be making the main front screen the immersive experience where viewers can take in the entire scene. The side portholes would feature a close-up of the highlighted sea creatures, and share some information.

With this layout, guests have a unique immersive experience regardless of where they stand in the elevator.

Live Footage? One concept we were encouraged to experiment with was featuring actual photography of the animals in the side portals for a more scientific view.

Animation Process
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Early into the animation process we realized that timing would be a challenge, especially featuring the side panel information long enough to be readable. This was our biggest obstacle to overcome as it meant changing the scale of the scene and speed of the animal animations.

After pitching the photography direction we decided that while it was interesting and educational, the different colors and bright vivid imagery would distract from our actual animation.

Final Experience

Our final experience includes the elevator doors and people inside to show scale and perspective reference. The elevator ride is not only enjoyable to watch, but educational. Everyone in the elevator has something to look at because all three walls are utilized.

This is a truly immersive experience that suits Mote's goals for education and turns a regular elevator ride into a fun adventure!


Nicole Klein

Mackenzie Schlagenhaft

Final Takeaways

Working in a team allowed us to expand the scope of this project to include the information portholes. Without Mackenzie's ideas and skills I might not have developed the same strong visual style or concepts.

Working on a scientific, educational project required a new level of detail, accuracy, and research. If I could expand our product and work on a longer timeline, I would add even more levels and more animals.

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