Luxology’s modo Delivers New Perspectives on Seattle’s Space Needle


Dawson 3D Creates Photorealistic Animated Fly-by of 605-foot Tower Entirely in modo

Last Updated: July 1, 2008 7:50 pm GMT
(San Mateo, California--July 1, 2008) When the owners of Seattle’s Space Needle wanted a photorealistic 3D sequence of the iconic structure for a new marketing campaign, advertising agency Radarworks knew exactly who to call: Dawson 3D.

Their confidence was rewarded when studio founder Henk Dawson delivered a stunning animated fly-by created entirely in modo® 302, Luxology’s award-winning, artist-friendly 3D content creation software.

The art direction Dawson received was both simple and challenging, requiring him to draw on his 18 years of experience in illustration and animation. Even though no real-world camera could capture the close-up perspective required, the sequence had to look as if it was physically filmed. The client’s objective was to inspire people at the Space Needle’s base to visit the restaurant and observation deck at the top of the 605-foot Googie-style structure, built for the 1962 World’s Fair.

Dawson began by using modo 302 to model the Space Needle in hyper-realistic detail, working from architectural drawings and photos. modo’s superb animation capabilities were then utilized to create spiraling camera moves around the tower all the way to the top. At that point, the camera smoothly pulls back, flies around the exterior of the Observation Deck and then sails over the structure looking straight down. Other views of the Space Needle for the homepage of the website were created simply by adjusting the digital camera in modo to achieve the exact perspective desired.

“I recently converted to modo and it now sits at the center of my pipeline,” says Dawson. “On this project, two things in modo carried the day for me – the use of Instances and Physically Based Daylight. With Instances, I was able to build the model by replicating components across portions of the structure, such as the repeating 9-foot sections of the elevator shaft. And when I turned on Physically Based Daylight in modo, the result was incredible, with no tweaking required.”

The quality of modo’s output was clear early in the project, when Dawson completed a presentation using photographic-quality images he had created with an unusual perspective. “Their reaction was, ‘Whoa! How did you get that shot?’,” he adds. “They had never seen such photorealistic architectural renderings.”

“The sequence Henk Dawson created in modo looks so realistic that many people will never realize it is animated, and it is a testament to his artistry,” says Bob Bennett, vice president of marketing for Luxology. “With modo, Henk was able to create never before seen perspective views of the Space Needle’s unique architecture.”

The finished animation is being looped on plasma screens around the base of the Space Needle and a lower resolution version of the animation is also featured on the “I Am Seattle” portion of the web site at

About modo
modo® 302 is a modern, artist-friendly 3D software that combines modeling, sculpting, painting, animation and rendering in a fused workflow for artists creating 3D content and final imagery for design visualization, creative imaging, game development, film and broadcast, educational and scientific purposes. A favorite tool among many designers and artists, modo's innovative toolset offers one of the fastest paths to content creation on the PC and Mac.

About Dawson 3D
In 1989, Henk Dawson founded Dawson 3D, a Seattle-based illustration and animation studio. Since then, he has been working with clients such as Apple, ESPN, Fox, FedEx, IBM, Hasbro, Intel, Microsoft, Nintendo, Pepsi, Taco Bell, The Federal Reserve, Volvo and Warner Books. Dawson has received many accolades, both for his illustration work and his animation endeavors, including a permanent placement in the California Museum of Science. He has taught at the School of Visual Arts in Seattle and has been a featured speaker at the 3D Design Conference in Los Angeles, AIGA's Currents Conference and Apple's Symposium. Dawson has additionally lectured at the Society of Illustrators/New York.

About Luxology
Based in San Mateo, Calif., Luxology® LLC is an independent technology company developing next-generation 3D content creation software that enhances productivity via artist-friendly tools powered by a modern underlying architecture. Founded in 2002 by Allen Hastings, Stuart Ferguson and Brad Peebler, Luxology is home to some of the top 3D engineering expertise in the industry. More information on Luxology, its flagship product modo, a gallery of artists' images and the active modo community is available online at


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