Bruce Power in Tiverton, Ontario is the world’s largest operating nuclear generating facility, hosting eight CANDU reactors that provide clean and low-cost electricity to meet approximately 30% of the province’s needs.
In July 2015, the company was thrilled to unveil a groundbreaking invention—a first of its kind for CANDU. The Bruce Reactor Inspection Maintenance System (BRIMS) is a state-of-the-art automated tool that improves inspection efficiency, reduces maintenance time and ensures workers’ safety.
The people at Bruce knew that it would revolutionize the industry, and they needed to show the international nuclear community how it works and what it achieves. But it was almost impossible to explain its complicated mechanics verbally or through presentations. Video was the solution.
To develop the video, we worked very closely with Ian Rowely, Vice President of Outage and Maintenance Services at Bruce Power. Ian knew what he wanted to say, but he wasn’t sure how to say it. “This was the first time I’d worked on something like this,” he explained, “and I appreciated the support from Lee and his team as we explored our ideas. First off, we walked through the storyboards, then we added some facts and figures, animations, funky music and great voiceover.”
Ian was able to connect our team with the engineers who were involved in the process and, along with the corporate communications group, we zeroed in on the approach. With an opening aerial view of the plant, motion graphics showing metrics and features, 3D animation, and a final call to action, the video brought clarity to a complex subject. “Everything came together into a great professional product,” said Ian. “It forges an emotional connection and it gets the point across in just five minutes.”
The Magic of 3D Animation
Computer animation is the perfect way to demonstrate an intricate device like BRIMS. The process begins with a detailed 3D model, usually provided by the customer or an engineering firm. Then the model is brought to life by moving each part just as it would in real life. And, finally, a bank of powerful computers, known as a ‘render farm’, generates the images.
With 3D animation as a part of our solution, we could produce the visuals that were needed to tell the story of the BRIMS project. We worked with Jason Dulberg (DesignTO3D), an experienced designer who specializes in technical and industrial applications. “I was attracted to the field because it illustrates so well how things work,” Jason said. “Animation lets you do things that a normal camera can’t. For instance, you can’t cut a piece of machinery in half to show the interior, especially when it may not actually exist.”
Using software typically used for movies and video games, Jason manually created the animation for each component and applied life-like colours, textures, lighting and shadows. Then the rendering process amassed a colossal total of 13,000 individual frames to be assimilated into the video.
A Collaborative Undertaking
“Lee and I shared a similar vision,” said Jason, “and so this project went very smoothly. I was working from good storyboards, and we agreed on the camera angles and transitions.” Jason had access to the soundtrack so that he could scale his work to the narration. “Timing is very important,” Jason pointed out. “You have to set the pace to let people absorb what they’re seeing.”
Between the Big Red Oak video team and the communications personnel, engineering staff and Ian Rowely at Bruce Power, we all contributed resources and inspiration to deliver a great product across the finish line.
Taking a specialized new mechanism like BRIMS and explaining it to an audience can be very challenging, but helping such dedicated people to get their message out has been such a great pleasure.