Internationally renowned film production company WildBear Entertainment has developed a new approach to cartographic storytelling, solving long standing industry challenges and setting new benchmarks using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology.

WildBear’s programs are distributed by leading global broadcasters including BBC, Netflix, National Geographic, and Discovery in more than 50 countries.  The company recently received an Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Award in ‘Spatial Enablement,’ for its creative application of GIS technology to produce animated, broadcast-ready maps for their documentaries, and went on to win the Oceanic Award recognising excellence across Australia and New Zealand.

WildBear’s successful application of spatial technology has created leaps for their documentary storytelling being seen around the world. WildBear can now create between 3-4 maps per day and the increased use of spatial mapping technology has given the company another tool to deliver compelling stories at the highest creative and technical standard.

The solution was born out of a requirement for WildBear’s graphics team to gain better access to geographic information and create visually compelling stories through maps more efficiently. Typically, WildBear’s history and science documentaries contain up to 12 animated maps per episode. These maps feature geographically and historically accurate borders, locations, points of interest and movement.

Previously, designers were required to manually trace borders and use satellite imagery to incorporate changes in borders, sea levels or landscapes over time - to create single 2D and 3D maps for use in its productions.  This process often extended over several days.  Designers had limited access to geospatial information and imagery resources outside of the NASA Blue Marble and Natural Earth collections, which in turn limited their capability to produce timely and accurate broadcast-ready maps for documentaries.

Access to Esri’s GIS software – under a first of its kind partnership agreement with the Australian distributor – has granted WildBear access to a plethora of mapping capability that can be used to support visual storytelling and integrations with Adobe Creative Cloud. Maps have transitioned from being a support element in documentaries to being capable of driving storylines through geographic data set insights.

WildBear has created a series of worldwide maps in ArcGIS Pro with georeferenced layers including near real-time satellite imagery, vector data and 3D topography. Using the ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud plug-in, the layers are exported in 32K resolution, edited in Adobe Illustrator and built into an easy-to-use mapping template in Adobe After Effects. This enables anyone from the team to create accurate, stylised maps of all corners of the globe.

For the production industry, the impact is prolific. WildBear’s pioneering implementation of GIS technology-led map design has expanded the capability of creative teams and established a new mechanism for visual storytelling.

WildBear’s creativity is now influencing future development, reshaping the tool in collaboration with Esri Product Managers to realise its full potential in the production industry.

Watch WildBear Entertainment’s latest showreel


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