Take Flight

In a newly reimagined exhibit, Take Flight celebrates the historic United Airlines plane and explores how the airline industry connects people around the world.

Duration: Sep 2020 - Mar 2021
Team: Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago
Role: Digital Media Designer
Tools: AfterEffects, Adobe Illustrator, C4D
Deliverable: 3 Explainer Motion Graphic Videos


In 1994, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) opened “Take Flight,” one of their most popular exhibits featuring the fuselage of a retired Boeing 727 passenger plane. Today, more than 25 years later, in collaboration with MSI's team, Studio Matthews (exhibit designers) and Belle & Wissell (media experience designers) have redesigned the exhibit’s displays while updating the story of commercial aviation for 21st century visitors.

Digital Media Content

While Studio Matthews' team created the overall design package and Belle & Wissell designed and implemented the exhibit’s interactives, I contributed as MSI's in-house digital media designer and created three animated media pieces for the exhibit.

A reimagined exhibit exploring
modern aviation and the science of flight


Exhibit Highlights

The exhibit renovation project involved restoring and highlighting the plane’s interior and creating brand new interactives to bring flying to life. Guests will discover what made the airliner soar, explore changes in the airline industry, and understand the science of flying.

Digital Media

Digital media and interactives serve as a crucial exhibit interpretive approach to help deliver the plane's story. While the interactive touchpoints are designed and developed by media design partner, Belle & Wissell, I was requested to take over the non-interactive, time-based animated media pieces to not only keep project budget under control, but also take advantage of our in-house speciality and agility to create content with MSI's voice and brand.

Design Brief

My task in this project was to seamlessly bridge the gap between the established work of our design partners and our own content creation needs. To achieve that goal, it was essential to understand the design contexts of the involved touchpoints (shown below) and collaborate closely with our internal exhibit development team in order to deliver creative outputs in a timely and consistent manner.

1. Air Marshaller


The Air Marshaller Activity marries digital and physical—visitors observe and mimic an animated Air Marshaller as she guides aircraft (batons in hand) in and out of passenger loading zones and taxiways.


Belle & Wissell designed the original storyboard and style frames for the animated video which depicted the different gestures of an air marshaller guiding an airplane. The visual treatment was aligned with the graphic style of the mural the screen was attached to. I was handed down the storyboard to keep on developing the animation with an emphasis on clarity and accuracy.


I quickly noticed some potential issues in the original storyboard. For instance, usage of screen real estate has room for optimization. An animating strategy needs to be further explored for animating a turning airplane from a front view. Also, it seems it could use more visual cues to distinguish between two gestures: stop and cut engine.

2. Landing Immersion


Landing Immersion is a passive-viewing digital media experience located inside the back of the plane, revealing the behind-the-scene process of flight from takeoff to landing. The animation provides contextual information for guests to better understand the what, why, and how of the different phases of a flight by looking from outside the plane. 

Given the viewing context, the animation should be succinct ( so as not to create a bottleneck in a narrow passage), informative (but not super detailed to result in cognitive overload), and visually ambient (for guests who choose not to stop and watch, it should still deliver a sense of visual coherence with the dark environment of the interior).


I translated the script our exhibit developer wrote into visual keyframes, demonstrating a distilled complete plane journey from takeoff to landing. The color palette and graphic styles are chosen to match the exhibit visual guidelines and the plane interior.

The layout can be divided into three parts:
1. Text panels on top highlight and explain the flight phases.
2. On-demand dashboards and navigation maps in the middle provide contextual data on speed and altitude.
3. An animated 3D model on the bottom shows what the plane is going through while calling out different components on the plane accordingly.  

3. Bernoulli Interactive


Bernoulli Interactive is an interactive experience demonstrating the scientific principles that make an airplane fly. An animated film How Does a Plane Fly? will play on a video screen alongside the physical “Bernoulli” lift interactive. It will support and expand on what guests experience hands-on and connect them to the technological miracle of amazing airliners soaring through the friendly skies.


Key concepts: • A pilot (or a plane) needs to control four forces to keep a plane flying right:(lift vs. weight, thrust vs. drag) • Since air is invisible, let’s use scientific visualization to unlock the mystery of how a plane flies. • The airfoil is a special, important shape. Aeronautical engineers use this shape in many ways!

© 2021 Jungu Guo. All rights reserved.  |   Email: guoj038@newschool.edu