Bruce Charlton, Chief Design Officer at Robert Trent Jones II (RTJ2) called us just before Christmas 2012 to ask if we wanted to be part of their team pitching to design a well-known course in Rio. The only sticking point was the deadline: not only was it at very short notice but the presentation was just after the Christmas holidays. We’re not one to miss an opportunity and certainly not afraid of short deadlines, so we signed up to Team RTJ2. This was a truly international collaboration, with people working out of California, Texas, Manila, Brighton and Riga. The deadline meant RTJ2 designed the course at almost the same time as we created the 3d model, sending us updates almost hourly. Considering this was our first project together, this way of working was remarkably efficient. We can’t tell you too many details at this time, due to various non-disclosure agreements, but if you want to learn a bit more about how we helped RTJ2 with their pitch then read on.
The design was for a tournament-standard 18-hole golf course in Rio de Janeiro, with 3 practice holes, a practice range, putting and chipping greens and clubhouse.
RTJ2 were up against 7 other golf course architects presenting designs, so they needed something to help them stand out and ‘blow the socks off’ the judges. They also had a very interesting concept and didn’t want to rely on traditional routing plans to communicate their idea. RTJ2 didn’t just find us on Google, we actually met Trent (Robert’s son) at a golf show in China a couple of years before and we bonded over our love of animation and film (he’s a filmmaker!). We agreed that when an opportunity presented itself we’d find a way to work together, and this was it.
We set ourselves the target of creating an animation that would explain the essence of the project in no more than 90 seconds. In keeping it short we could be sure the animation would hold the judges’ attention for the full animation and also give RTJ2 plenty of time to talk about their design afterwards. There was a lot to squeeze into the animation, but we managed to show all the main features of the project, in particular a before-and-after comparison of the tournament setup. This made it easy to see how the course would look after the grandstands, TV towers and hospitality tents had been taken away. We also created animations for some of the most important holes with some close-up views of the ribbon tees and the sandy dunes that give the course its character. In particular we focused on the 18th hole so that we could show what it would be like to walk down the fairway surrounded by grandstands. At the end of each hole the animation flies into the nearest TV tower and switches to show a view of the green and what it would be like for the audience watching on TV. We can’t take credit for this idea (Trent please take a bow).
We’ve been told the judges loved the presentation, in fact we heard a rumour they asked to see it twice. But unfortunately RTJ2 didn’t win the competition. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort; I think we’ll all remember our time working together that Christmas.