Lab Notes

How to Build an Offshore Oil Rig in 29 Easy Steps.

Posted by Helios on November 21, 2013.

OFFSHORE is an interactive documentary about the impact of the global offshore oil industry continues to have in a ever-continuing Deepwater Horizon aftermath. Director-filmmakers Brenda Longfellow and Glen Richards spent a year researching and filming awesome footage of people,places, oil, water, and machinery. Helios Design Labs, as the interactive part of the directors team, spent about the same amount of time building a huge, dark, forbidding oil platform. It was hard!

Or it really would have been, without Matt Brushett, our resident expert on the nearly-impossible.

We’re not going to bore you with all 29 steps mentioned in the title, but Matt has supplied the 7 coolest ones (and they’re actually not that easy).

Matt says:

The model, texture and light environment was created in Cinema 4D.

Some models were taken from Google Sketchup warehouse, others were built from scratch.

Lighting was created using Greyscale Gorilla’s Light Kit and HDRI Studio Kit

All models were than stripped of their materials and re textured by us to match the atmosphere we were attempting to obtain

Working off a tutorial by Alexander Alexandrov (, I produced HDR reflection maps that show the environment in a 360 degree image.

In photoshop, I colour corrected and added any secondary elements to the rendered Panorama images

Working off a tutorial by Paul Lewis ( I was able to take the completed 360 image and bring it into blender which allowed me to export the image as 6 separate files that can be mapped onto a cubic panorama

And, voila. A set of animated gifs that visually chart the process, from modelling to final images (with some shortcuts)

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