Birmingham, home of our animation studio, hosted the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Second Home has had the pleasure of working with the host broadcaster and the organising committee to produce animated maps which highlight athletes’ key event routes.

Style: CG / 3D
Client: Sunset + Vine
Year: 2022

Animated Route Maps for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

The Project

Host broadcaster Sunset + Vine needed animated race maps to showcase 5 routes athletes will be following in competition. These were broadcast on the BBC and globally via rights holding broadcasters in all the Commonwealth countries. Each race needed to showcase sporting locations and landmarks across Birmingham and the Black Country. These were:

  • Triathlon (Mens, Womens, Para, Mixed Relay) – Sutton 
  • Mountain Biking – Cannock Chase 
  • Marathon – Birmingham
  • Time Trial (Mens, Womens) – Wolverhampton / Dudley
  • Road Race (Mens, Womens) – Warwickshire

The Creative

Second Home is founded on stop-motion animation and a love of miniatures. Our proposed idea was to create a miniature rendition of the map locations which look like playful 3 dimensional models of the region. Like an architect’s tabletop model but with flying triangles and a neon ribbon! The ribbon created a solid pathway to then showcase the entire route once the marker reaches the finish line.

An abstract CGI model of Birmingham in a raised container showing the starting point of the Commonwealth Games.
Still taken from Time Trial – Tabletop Miniature

The Data 

To create a realistic model look, photogrammetry mapping data was required. We used nadir data, produced by BlueSky, which was medium level data captured using LiDAR. The nadir data worked as the base map for each of the locations. For certain portions of Birmingham, we were also able to make use of another set of data from BlueSky, called Metrovista. Created using a hybrid of oblique imaging and a LiDAR system, BlueSky have captured several UK cities at a high level of detail. This brand new way to capture data produced the fantastic features seen in the Marathon route, which allowed us to see the vibrant city much more clearly.

A computer generated aerial shot of Birmingham city centre showing events of the commonwealth games.
Still taken from Marathon – Metrovista Data

Drone specialists RUAS also supplied us with highly detailed data by capturing up to date drone data in Warwickshire for the Road Race. The high level of detail in the buildings and surrounding landscapes allowed us to get up close to the route marker and really showcase the beauty of the location, with a treetop level flyover of Warwick Castle. 

Drone Image of Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle – Drone Image by RUAS

Read more on the data capture and processing on our blog post Shrinking The City.


Due to the high level of detail of the data, several custom tools needed to be set up in order for us to be able to work with the models. Each piece of the data was pre-processed and saved in 3 levels of detail, from low to high, as well as a bounding box and a “proxy” mesh. These “low-res” geometry variations of each piece of the model allowed us to keep these complex scenes lightweight and responsive when working on them. 

When the time then came to render, we were able to then swap these for the “render-ready” meshes, and using our custom set up, automatically selected either high, medium or low, based on the distance from the CG camera.

Once the mapping data from both Blue Sky and RUAS was set up in CG software Houdini, the race guides were loaded in and the route markers were added. Camera moves were animated to follow the pointer as it flies, turns, flips and banks around the virtual miniatures. 

A computer generated aerial shot of Birmingham showing events of the commonwealth games.
Still take from Triathlon – Route Markers

Similar triangle markers in brand colours were used to annotate timing pointers as well as triathlon transitions. Sticking to glass triangles, a sub-layer of triangular styled ‘clouds’ were produced to float around the outro race overview.

Post Production

Each of the routes were rendered in separated CG layer sequences and then composited together in Nuke. Shallow focus depth of field was added to give the “miniature” feel to the finished renders, as well as additional lighting effects and adjustments. Text labels for key areas in Birmingham were added as an additional 3D layer and lighting and shadows were adjusted to help set them in the scene.

The introduction to each route was craftily concealed beneath the Bham 2022 logo itself. Using After Effects, transitions were animated for Marathon, Road Race and Time Trial routes to ease into the main animation. 

Lower thirds, with a very simple design using angled geometry and the Birmingham 2022 fonts, were used to title the race and inform of details such as the duration, length and number of laps.

Road Race
Mountain Biking
Time Trial