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Digital > 14.2 Information Site

Interactive documentary - ‘Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights’

by Q42

Commissioned by the NTR and together with Fabrique we built the interactive documentary for the transmedia triptych about Hieronymus Bosch, by director Pieter van Huystee. The documentary is called ’Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights’ (in Dutch ’Tuin der Lusten’) and it allows you to discover this painting in more detail than ever.

2016 is the year that the city of Den Bosch celebrates in the name of Hieronymus Bosch. Not without reason: this world famous master painter died exactly 500 years ago. For this occasion, several directors, composers, art historians and other creatives, including film director Pieter van Huystee, let Bosch inspire themselves anew. In collaboration with the NTR (a public broadcast corporation in The Netherlands), Van Huystee produced the transmedia triptych about Bosch. The interactive documentary that we built is part of this. 

The triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights was already extraordinary back in the day due to its almost infinite details. And it remains special today. Each time you look at the painting, you discover new creatures and stories. But because not everyone has the opportunity to see the painting in the Prado in Spain, Pieter van Huystee and the NTR wanted to bring it to the viewer, by making it available online. And preferably in such a detailed way, that you can discover it in more detail than from behind its museum protection in the real world. So we built audio tours (including a special tour for children), and a way to explore the painting freely. But how do you disclose such a painting, one that’s too large to download all at once (120,000 x 70,000 pixels), online in the first place and then also include the audio voice-over, background audio and music? To achieve that, we had to develop something new. Our goal was to reach at least 120,000 visitors in one year. 

The interactive documentary has high quality content that draws you right into the painting, including a Dutch and English language tour and a tour for children. We worked closely with the NTR, Pieter and Paul M. van Brugge to develop the interactive tours alongside the free exploration option. Fabrique created the visual design and worked together with the NTR on the interaction design. The sound design was provided by Mark Glynne and the music by composer Paul M. van Brugge. The interactive documentary takes the user on an audiovisual journey, one where positional sound, music, video and images work together to enrich the narration. The voice of Redmond O’Hanlon guides you through the painting and informs you about the mysterious symbolism behind the strange creatures in Bosch’s painting.  

The high-res image can’t be downloaded all at once. This issue inspired Marcel to build Micrio: new ultra-high-res visualisation algorithms for predicting navigation behaviour (where the user is going) and many navigational and animation optimizations. This makes the process smooth on all devices, with minimal data usage.

“This is the Internet we were promised.” We’ve been overwhelmed by the exclusively positive feedback on Facebook, Twitter, art blogs (e.g. Http://goo.gl/sj3cQU) Reddit front page (goo.gl/u42X1r) and Metafilter (goo.gl/hRIIX9). Many claim this experience to be better than looking at the real canvas. Currently, the interactive documentary has been viewed by more than 700,000 people (as of 02/19/16), more than 5 times the annual target. A large number of sessions lasted between 10 and 30+ minutes. The top three countries visitors came from: the USA, the Netherlands and Russia. Visitors originated from over 180 countries.  So now we’re just looking for which countries haven’t yet visited the documentary.

  • Creative Directors Pieter van Huystee
  • Art Directors Nils Mengedoht Fabrique
  • Designers
  • Illustrators
  • Photographers
  • Editors
  • Copywriters NTR, Pieter van Huystee
  • Concept Pieter van Huystee, Ingrid Walschots NTR
  • Interaction Design Nils Mengedoht Fabrique, Ingrid Walschots NTR
  • Account Ingrid Walschots NTR
  • Co-producer Pieter van Huystee Films and TV
  • Composer Paul M. van Brugge
  • Sound design Mark Glynne
  • Voice-overs Midas Dekkers, Nynke de La Rive Box, Redmond o'Hanlon
  • Micrio Marcel Duin Q42
  • Technical design plus realisation Q42: Marcel Duin, Tim Logtenberg, Michiel Post, Silvy van Houdt
  • Research plus copy Liz Dautzenberg, Daan Veldhuizen
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