Secrets of the sauna

Country/area: Finland

Organisation: Yle

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 23/12/2021

Credit: Johannes Blom, Taneli Arponen, Juha Rissanen, James Stone, Trang Luu


Johannes Blom, journalist

Taneli Arponen, coder

Juha Rissanen, graphic designer

Project description:

In this story we look at the science of sauna, inside and outside the human body.

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have uncovered lots of interesting ways sauna affects our health. The newest research suggests that regular sauna sessions result in lower blood pressure over time.

In the article we use 3D-modelling to help observe the inside and the outside of the human body and how sauna affects it. We also showcase Finnish sauna for those unfamiliar with it.

Impact reached:

The project helped to estabilish several of sauna health benefits; it’s good for your health to go to the sauna several times a week.

Techniques/technologies used:

This project utilized both pre-rendered and dynamic 3D-content to showcase sauna and its effects on human body. All the 3D-models were made in Blender 2.9 and exported as glTF-format. Blender was also used to make all the pre-rendered animations. Smoke and heatmap effects were created by built-in particle generators.

The article itself was build on React and the dynamic 3D-part was implemented mainly by using React Three Fiber -library.

Performance of the dynamic 3D content was improved by using various techniques more commonly utilised in game deveploment. All the models used a relatively low poly count and the shadows were baked into textures. This ensured that the project would run even on lower-end Android devices.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Getting the dynamic 3D-part of the article to work reliably enough on all kinds of devices was a chore, but definitely worth it. User-controlled 3D view isn’t yet that common in journalism and most of the time 3D-animations and other 3D-visualizations are pre-rendered.

Pre-rendered videos are an easy way to do cool looking animations, but video has it’s limitations. Dynamic 3D enables users to explore scene in their own pace.

What can others learn from this project?

Dynamic 3D-visualizations work exceptionally well if the story you want to tell can be contained within small area, a stage if you will. In this project sauna is that small contained area where the storytelling magic happens.

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