Brunel 200 Legacy Brunel's Sketchbook – A 90 Second Challenge
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A 90 Second Challenge

Created as part of Watershed Media Centre’s 90 Second Challenge series, media artist Paul Matson attempted to sum up Brunel’s achievements in a minute and a half!

90 Second Challenge is a project within the Electric Pavilion, a space for creative enquiry and illumination as part of the Creative Bristol 2005 initiative. Visit to explore its many areas and participate in the changing programme of events and interactive experiences. The site has a networked approach to delivery and involves collaborations between artists, media producers, designers, programmers, students, educators and cultural, community and business representatives in Bristol and linked cities.

Paul was inspired to animate sketches by Brunel of some of his greatest works: the Clifton Suspension Bridge, ss Great Eastern, Box Tunnel, but this was not as straightforward as it seemed at first!

As till from 'Brunel's Sketchbook'.

Paul commented:

"Researching his workaholic life, I imagined Brunel huddled over a sketchbook in the early hours of morning, drawing by candlelight in a frenzy of activity. Lines on paper that, over time, would become the starting points for his greatest engineering works.

His sketchbooks, diaries and letters are now archived in the Brunel Collection at the University of Bristol. Full of energy and vitality, they tell us a great deal about the man and his ambition.

Scans were supplied as digital files, which were printed out so that a 90 second sequence could be storyboarded. The biggest challenge was to ‘lift’ the drawings off the sketchbook paper and find a way of animating them. Using Photoshop and the motion graphics package After Effects, I was able to experiment with different ways of achieving this effect. The final piece required an ambient soundtrack, which was overlayed afterwards, and an introduction screen, for which I used Brunel’s original box of drawing implements. If you look closely the initials of IKB can be identified on the tools!

I’m interested in the creative interpretation of historical archives and bringing them to life in new ways, particularly online. This commission was an opportunity to discover more about Brunel, while bringing his sketchbooks to a new, and wider, audience."

To view 'Brunel's Sketchbook please click here.

To view more 90 Second Challenge films on line, visit: