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We collaborated with TED-Ed to bring to life their lesson on the destruction of the ancient city of Pompeii. The film follows three siblings as they attempt to survive the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, a volcano that decimated Pompeii in a matter of hours. 

TED-Ed is a non-profit organization that is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. Being such huge fans of TED-Ed, we always aspired working with them and seeing our work on their channel. We were thrilled when we got an opportunity to work with them on this! We had complete creative liberty to direct and animate this lesson, and the TED team made sure that the events and visuals of the film were historically and factually correct. The beautifully composed music and sound of the film is by cAMP Studio, who brought the visuals to life!


Client : TED-Ed
Production House: Totem Creative
Sound Design: 
cAMP Studio

Creative Direction: Arvind Singh Jeena, Nikhita Prabhudesai
Storyboards & Animatic: Nikhita Prabhudesai
Visual Development : Ashish Phadke, Nikhita Prabhudesai

2D Animation : Gaurav Dhaimodkar, Ashish Phadke,
Background design: Richa Mehta, Varun Bala, Nikhita Prabhudesai
Animation supervision : Arvind Jeena
Animators : Gaurav Dhaimodkar, Ashish Phadke
Cleanup & Colourists : Ashish, Gaurav, Nikhita, Arvind, Shreshth Vyas
Compositing: Arvind Singh Jeena



Since the story of Pompeii is a period piece, it was integral for us to study the people, their clothing and food, architecture, and art of the time. Our story revolves around siblings belonging to a middle class family, which usually wore simple tunics unlike the upper class Togas. Stolas and Palliums were commonly used by men and women to drape around themselves. 


The city was quite well planned with public spaces (the main one being the forum, where our story opens), designated areas for temples, bathhouses, market areas, residences as well as the famous brothels! Frescos and mosaics were a common decorative form of art in posh villas and temples. 


Herculaneum, Pompeii's sister city was where the boathouses were located. Although Herculaneum was closer to Mt. Vesuvius, pompeii was more heavily impacted. Bodies of humans and animals, along with artifacts, food and furniture were covered and preserved in volcanic ash and later excavated to tell the history that we now know of. 

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5_R_Mosaics etc.jpg

On top, interiors of homes in Pompeii that informed a lot of the sets in our film. 

Top right - A map of the cities around Vesuvius
Bottom right - A map of the city of Pompeii

It was important to understand the geography of the city to understand the different possible routes one could take to escape the eruption's effects. 



The initial treatment we had in mind was keeping it very minimal and painterly, with very sepia/washed out watercolour look. One of the ideas we had was to gradually move the colours to deep dark blues and purples as the story kept getting darker and threatening. 


Styleframes by Ashish Phadke


Our characters are between the ages of 14-20. Lucius is the youngest of the 3 and the last to get married.

Below, the final designs for Fabia, Lucius and Marcus.


Character Designs by Gaurav Dhaimodkar


The backgrounds used in production kept developing further and further into a more detailed visual style. This was not the initial intention, but we felt that the richness of the world needed to be seen as much as possible. Initial colour scheme was warm, with the colours getting darker and more grim as the story progresses. 


For the later half of the film, we painted the structures and then destroyed them piece by piece, referring to photographs of structures that succumbed to natural disasters. 

Backgrounds by Ashish Phadke & Nikhita Prabhudesai

Mt. Vesuvius, an active volcano was an additional character of the film - a looming presence over the glorious city, warning us of the dread to come. 



Thumbnails & Colour Palettes by Nikhita Prabhudesai

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