Watch a ghostly animated Titanic sink in real time

Fair warning: this video is two hours and forty minutes long and there are significant stretches where very little happens. I expected to give up on it 10 minutes in, but much to my amazement, it was weirdly riveting. It starts just before Titanic strikes the iceberg and ends when the last of the ship plunges under the frigid waters. There are some very discreet sound effects — a few spoken orders, water, iron groaning, engines — and captions pop up explaining key moments. I found the notes on the lowering of the lifeboats and collapsibles particularly fascinating. Seeing it happen in real time strikingly conveys what an organization disaster this was, how much time was wasted, how so many more people could have been saved.

What makes the video genuinely eerie is the complete absence of people. It gives it a Mary Celeste ghost ship vibe. There are some voices — you hear some screams at the very end — but without moving figures it’s like Titanic is cursed to relive its slow, inexorable destruction over and over again.

That’s not what the finished product will be like. This animation is one element of an ambitious game called Titanic Honor & Glory and it’s still a work in progress. The ultimate aim is to have a fully explorable ship, accurate down to the smallest detail, with real historical people players can interact with at will. They’ll even have a period 1912 Southampton to wander through before boarding. There will be a story — a mystery to solve — but also a simple browse option if you just want to immerse yourself in the environment.

Judging from the glimpses of the grand staircase slowly filling with water in the sinking video and a video from last year that takes you on a brief tour of the First Class Reception Room, Dining Room, elevators, Turkish baths and the Third Class Dining Room, walking around will be plenty entertaining for those of us of a nerdly persuasion.


Here’s the full sinking video. Set aside three hours and just let it run. It’s not like you have to focus on it exclusively. You can do other things while it’s on in the background, but if you’re anything like me, you might find yourself having a hard time looking away.


4 thoughts on “Watch a ghostly animated Titanic sink in real time

  1. Your writing arrived the same day as an article in the English newspaper, The Daily mail. Here is the essence of the article.

    There has just been found amazing photos showing a vessel containing three bodies – which was found by a passing oceanliner a month following the sinking of the Cunnard Line’s majestic TITANIC. The small craft was located approximately 200 miles away from the site of the great ship’s sinking.

    The wooden lifeboat, the last to cast-off from the Titanic as it plunged into the icy water, was spotted by crew on board the passing RMS Oceanic on May 13, 1912. On board were the corpses of two firemen from the Titanic’s engine room as well as the body of first class passenger Thomson Beattie, 37; The young man was still dressed in his dinner jacket. Photographs of the recovery mission, combined with a detailed first-hand account, help build a picture of those who lost their lives aboard lifeboat ‘Collapsible A’ – and the gruesome discovery that awaited the crew of the RMS Oceanic.

    I am amazed at how many more ‘undiscovered’ touchstones of the ill-fated Titanic keep bobbing up!

  2. Yes yes, I confess to have occasionally fast forwarded, but I really love all the sounds with all that metal slowly under strain. Southampton, we may have a little problem over here.

    This, plus the remaining invisible 1500 that one hardly would recognize from aboard one of the few lifeboats anyway, makes the whole thing even more horrific, and slowly capsizing collateral sub-prime bonds might come to mind here.

  3. At first I thought it was kind of silly not to have people on board, but at the end, with all the screaming, it was so traumatic I’m glad there wasn’t more of it.
    It’s amazing just how many things went wrong that were completely avoidable and would have saved so many lives.

  4. That pretty well did away with my evening. Was not going to miss a minute, so kept pausing it to take care of evening chores. Good thing. I do not think I could have watched it straight through. My nails are a mess as it is. I too am glad that the images were as stark as they were. It was incredibly powerful. I cannot imagine the images the people watching from the lifeboats took through life with them. I did not see the movie “Titanic”. I am glad.

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