Rob Churchill brings century old
Ferris wheel and dynamo to life in directing a campaign promoting the Museum’s new

CHICAGO— Filmworkers helped Chicago agency DDB
recapture the thrills experienced by visitors to Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair in
a new ad campaign for The Field Museum.
The campaign promotes the Museum’s current exhibit marking
the 120th anniversary of the Fair and featuring artifacts from the
landmark event. One spot offers an over-the-shoulder view of a boy riding the
Fair’s famous Ferris wheel (designed by engineer George Ferris) and looking out
across the Exposition grounds. “See what he saw!” exhorts the voiceover, “The
wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair.” A second spot shows a similar view of a
woman gazing at a mammoth dynamo as an electrical arc causes her hair to stand
on end.

Filmworkers VFX Director Rob Churchill directed the spots.
The boy and the woman seen in the foregrounds of the two ads were costumed
actors. The background environments were constructed from historical still
photographs and CGI elements. Churchill used a series of archival photos to
create the Exposition grounds and a computer editing system to arrange them in 3D
space. Virtual camera movement created the illusion that the boy is rising in
the air with the Ferris wheel.
“I painted in extra detail to reveal more of the buildings
than can be seen in the photographs,” explains Churchill, a classically-trained
fine artist. “I used a map of the fairgrounds for reference to ensure

To further the 3D illusion, Churchill added
computer-animated flags into the background. He also added an animated model of
an “L” train. “They were called alley trains in those days,” Churchill notes.
“They had hoped to have them running to Jackson Park by the time of the fair, but
they were actually ahead of schedule and the trains ran much farther. We
thought it would be fun to add that in.”
The second spot was created in a similar manner. Churchill
created the dynamo from historical photographs and added CGI parts to simulate
motion. A much more old school technique was employed to make the woman’s hair
stand on end. “We used the old rub-your-hair-with-a-balloon trick,” says
Churchill says that it was fun see the project through from
beginning to end and to recreate one of the most memorable chapters in
Chicago’s history. “It was super fun,” he recalls. “We were all excited. During
the last take, everyone was cheering because it was all going so well.”
Filmworkers is located at 232 E. Ohio St. Penthouse,
Chicago, IL 60611. For more information, call (312) 664-9333 or visit

TITLE:  Ferris Wheel, Electricity
CLIENT:  Field Museum of Chicago
AGENCY: DDB Chicago. Karin Rose,  Creative Director; Mary Beth Adduci, Creative
Director; Nathan Monteith, Creative Director; Warren Frost, Creative Director; Cori
Donohoe,  Creative Director; Jenny
Hoffman, Producer; Polly Poulos, Production Business Manager; Brandon Scharold,
Account Director; John Schroeder, Account Manager.
PRODUCTION: Filmworkers. Rob Churchill, Director.
POST: Filmworkers. Rob Churchill, VFX
Director; Lisa Long, Executive Producer.
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