Birdly Insect Flight Simulator – 3D environment and 3D animation a special exhibition


SOMNIACS is an award-winning immersive experience company, built on a foundation of developing immersive experiences and unlocking emotions. Spun off from the Zurich University of the Arts in 2015, their origins are in understanding how unforgettable experiences can transform the way people understand and interact with the world. The SOMNIACS team works with government agencies and private clients to deliver immersive XR solutions that take users into worlds they might otherwise not be able to explore.

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Birdly Insect Flight Simulator

Birdly Insect is the world's first simulator where visitors explore the world around them by taking on the role of a butterfly. Developed by immersive experience company SOMNIACS, the simulator is the highlight of a special exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of BirdLife Switzerland. The purpose of this exhibition is to draw attention to the importance of insects, the extinction of which can lead to an ecological disaster. The realism of the simulator completely immerses visitors in the atmosphere of a natural landscape full of flowers and plants. They feel the wind blow, hear the flutter of their own wings, view the species-rich flower meadow, encounter other animals, and realize both the beauty and the danger of insect life.

Production Workflow

Our task was to create and animate a large number of ultra-realistic models. To do this, we selected several teams with relevant experience.


Our goal was to create and animate 3D models that were supposed to be part of the simulator. These were 3D models of the environment, insects and birds, the appearance of which had to be as close to reality as possible.


Our challenge was to ensure maximum realism of 3D models, strictly following the provided brief and carefully studying all the references of both the appearance of insects and birds and their movements in the wild.

Birdly Insect Flight Simulator

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Below you can see the main result of our collaboration. Dive into unforgettable experience with Birdly and Kevuru Games!

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Stage 1. Creating 3D models

Three teams were allocated to work on 3D models and animation:
  • Environment artists.
  • Bird artists.
  • Animators.
OThe references were real photos of insects and birds, as well as videos of their movements. The pipeline for creating a 3D model looked like this:
  • Approving brief.
  • Creating a high poly model.
  • Creating a low poly model.
  • UV and baking.
  • Texturing.
Before the start of each new stage, the results of the previous one were agreed upon with the client. Given the different complexity of the models, they were created at different speeds and the artists worked in parallel, presenting the results as they were ready.

Stage 2. Animating 3D models

After the approval of the models, 3D animators got involved. They took as a basis the references of real movements of real birds and insects to implement the most realistic animation. The pipeline for creating 3D animation consisted of the following steps:
  • Rigging, skinning.
  • Animation.
The client's team included experts on insects and birds who gave an objective assessment of the created models and animations.

Team Structure

A large team of 3D artists and animators worked on 3D models of insects, birds and plants.

  • Lead 3D environment artist

    Responsible for the work of 3D artists involved in the creation of plants and insects.
  • Lead 3D birds artist

    Supervises, corrects and directs artists involved in the creation of 3D models of birds.
  • Lead 3D animator

    Controls the work of 3D animators to ensure the realistic movement of models.
  • 3D artists

    Involved in the creation of ultra-realistic 3D models of the environment, insects and birds.
  • Project manager

    Provides a high level of planning, organization and execution of the project for timely delivery.

Values Delivered

Our team went to great lengths to create highly detailed, colorful 3D models that provide an excellent level of immersion.

For 3 months of cooperation with SOMNIACS on 3D models for Birdly Insect Flight Simulator, we created 23 full-fledged models of plants, insects and birds with animation. A detailed brief, clear references and quick feedback from the client helped us to perfectly set up the work process and create a large number of highly detailed models in a short time. The high realism of the created models and their correspondence to real animals and birds in the wild made it possible to achieve the key goals of the client and make the simulator as immersive as possible so that visitors could feel the life of an insect in their own skin.

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