PBS: Flood In The Desert


Bringing to life a century old disaster

One of the most dramatic failures of American infrastructure took place in the California desert in 1928. There were no surviving witnesses of the St. Francis Dam collapse, and it has taken engineers and historians years to piece together the events leading up to and during the event. We had the fortune to work with PBS’s American Experience to visualize and recreate this historic disaster.

This project was a unique challenge: we needed to visualize a disaster that took place almost a hundred years ago and we needed it to satisfy the most critical historic and engineering experts on the subject. Isaiah worked closely with director Rob Rapley and engineering consultant J. David Rogers to create a roadmap of the disaster including the sequence of the collapse down to every block of concrete and every crack. This roadmap lay the foundation for Ryan Frost’s detailed 3D modeling of the dam, over which we overlaid thousands of hand-drawn frames created by Jamie Rodriguez. Daniel’s final compositing created the illusion of a dimensional blueprint come to life.


Creative Directors & Lead Designers: Daniel De Graaf and Isaiah King

Animation: Ryan Frost, Jamie Rodriguez and Daniel de Graaf

Production Co-ordinator: Larianna Evania

Network: PBS