Design and development

Shadow provided design and animation of the 'Tree of Life' CGI sequence for David Attenborough's landmark show on Darwin.

With the animation commissioned and funded by the Wellcome Trust, the BBC one-hour special takes us through the journey of evolution, showing how much our understanding of this complex process has changed in the last 200 years.

Shadow were awarded the task of creating and animating the 6 minute CGI sequence that depicts the evolution of 3.5 Billion years of life on earth. Working closely with the BBC's longtime Attenborough series designer Mick Connaire, Shadow aimed to allow the animation to work both in the context of the television show, but also to create a piece that could be shown as a standalone animation online, and in museums around the world.

28 key species in Attenborough's story were created from scratch to show how mutation and natural selection have changed the natural world. The background tree graphic was accurately modeled using data from the TOL web database that was imported into 3D, and shaped by a coded plugin that Shadow developed especially for the project.

Shadow's interactive team also leveraged the same code to produce the 'Interactive Tree of Life' flash application that allows users to explore some of the species in more depth at

The 'Tree of Life' was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award for Content Graphic Design, and also won the Best Science Documentary at the Grierson British Documentary Awards.