Prize-Winning Animation Lets You Fly Through 17th Century London

Six students from De Montfort University have created a stellar 3D representation of 17th century London, as it existed before The Great Fire of 1666. The three-minute video provides a realistic animation of Tudor London, and particularly a section called Pudding Lane where the fire started. As Londonist notes, “Although most of the buildings are conjectural, the students used a realistic street pattern [taken from historical maps] and even included the hanging signs of genuine inns and businesses” mentioned in diaries from the period. For their efforts, the De Montfort team was awarded first prize in the Off the Map contest, a competition run by The British Library and video game developers GameCity and Crytek. You can find more information about how the animation came together over at the animators’ blog, plus at The British Library’s Digital Scholarship blog.

H/T @Sheerly

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by | Permalink | Comments (80) |

  • Margaret Rose STRINGER

    Mind-bogglingly WONDERFUL. These students deserve to graduate instantly in whatever discipline for which they’re enrolled. Can’t finish without noting that their uni is in Leicester: does all the very best stuff in history get done there …?

  • Tudorphile

    It’s magnificent. If only you could add in the sounds and smells of the time. I often wonder if my 21st century nose could withstand the odor of thousands who have not bathed or washed their clothes, waste and refuse in the street, decomposing food, etc. How would a person today react to such a sudden influx of smells?

  • yodaweed

    Man they have got to use this for the basis of a video game of some kind – some sort of swashbuckling adventure me thinks

  • Mandy Sue

    This is spectacular, the images and the music. This will facilitate my dreams of flight, I suspect. Just stunning.

  • Robert Kelley

    All of those I have shared this with have been stunned. This is a magnificent piece of work. The students deserve the highest praise!

  • Robert Kelley

    Well, if it’s good enough for Richard III, it should be good enough for anyone!

  • Margaret Rose STRINGER

    I BEG YOUR PARDON!!! – is there really any need for this negative kind of comment? Or are you pulling my leg (I hope!)?

  • brian beaton

    Really great! Enjoyed their work.

  • Fred Yaeger

    I wonder if any reputable “students” of Tudor London have an opinion on the degree of authenticity of this rendering. We humans are very visual animals – seems many of us easily “believe” a visual image to be accurate, whether it really is, or is not. The still images near the beginning of the video included (sick/dying?) persons on the streets, but the animated scenes do not. Sure, not every detail can be included without a movie-sized budget, but I wonder if those things shown **are** accurate and I wonder what things are omitted. I commend these students for creating this thought-provoking suggestion of 400 yrs ago. Well done!!!

  • Nita Jones

    I didn’t want it to stop, in fact I wanted to get in there and have a wander about! Well done!

  • Diane P. Diamond

    I thought that this was absolutely amazing. The detail and colors are outstanding. Well done to the students for creating this video of 17th century London for us all to enjoy. :-)

  • Diane P. Diamond

    I thought that this was absolutely amazing. The detail and colors are outstanding. Well done to the students for creating this video of 17th century London for us all to enjoy. :-)

  • Mobyboy

    Brilliant – great job, well done to everyone.

  • Hector

    Really excellent. Congratulations on your winning entry. Well deserved. I may use this with my class as a stimuli for writing.

  • trevH

    I see a York-ist here. :-) nnOddly Leicester does seem to have a big history dept as I’ve seen them mentioned in other similar works. Maybe a speciality of the university?

  • trevH

    Not a history student, but from what I remember in school, there is quite a bit missing such as throwing the rubbish and other stuff out the windows, sewers down the middle of the streets and lots & lots of rats.nnBut I suspect the people behind it wanted to concentrate more on the buildings and what it might have looked like rather than all the details.nnAs mentioned above, the building designs are likely a guess partly based on maps which showed certain businesses, and our visual understanding of what Tudor buildings looked like – maybe more based on what we see in Chester for example.nnIs very very well done for sure.

  • Chris

    Awesome, it’s like a smelly version of World of Warcraft. :)

  • Joe Harris

    Should have used 17th-century music, instead of 21st-century music!

  • rksully

    The tudor period ended in 1603, when we’re talking 17th century we’re talking Stuarts, just a fyi for historical accuracy. (I’m a history teacher, I can’t help it!)

  • rksully

    I should add that I think it’s a great piece of work! It would be amazing to use in the classroom.

  • Taylor

    What is the song in the background?

  • Keith Wakefield

    Absolotly brilliant

  • preemiememe

    terrific,,other than the black plague..It makes me want to live there,, :)

  • Rich Thomas

    Am I the only one who feels like I’m here to upgrade my armor and find the next quest-giver?

  • Watcher

    Very nice. But unpopulated.

  • Keith Parkins


  • Keith Parkins


  • Bothydweller

    A slowed down ‘are you going to strawberry fair’

  • Kali Farfrae

    A bit fast, slow it down, hard on those with motion sickness issues. and the drifting in and out of focus is a bit tough as well. But that maybe solved with slowing it down.. I love it! the details like the flies and garbage is wonderful as well. Will there be more?

  • Kali Farfrae


  • Julia Clarke

    Looks like a backdrop to a Fairy tale; so familiar and yet so alien.

  • KorrigAnnie

    Just what I thought…:)

  • ElsieDee

    It’s the “Scarborough Fair” ballad.

  • Virgil

    Joe – it’s a traditional ballad of Great Britain – or do you mean the arrangement? Apparently, it’s thought to be about the Great Plague of the late Middle Ages; it also may have a connection to an obscure Scottish ballad, The Elfin Knight and is generally believed to have originated in the 17th century.

  • an idiot.

    very fable 2-esque, very good though.

  • purrna2go

    Too fast, with scenes that demand lingering but are passed over. Bad angles. Poor cinematic direction because it meanders with no reference points during the “flyover” (excluding the beginning which was slow and interesting). I felt a bit nauseous with the veering. It would have been much better as a walk-through; not thought out as either a bird nor plane, just crazy veering. But the graphic renditions of old England were heart rendingly beautiful – why not give them their due?

  • purrna2go

    Only two bars are Scarborough Faire – the rest is something different.

  • Scott

    m, Tudor England ended in 1603, when Elizabeth died, and Stuart England started, so I am sure you mean Stuart England…

  • Tarja Roffe

    Way too fast, had trouble focussing and then it was gone already. Half the speed would be good and then I would love it and watch it over and over. Can you slow it down please, as if walking through the allies and stopping to look around you every now and then… This could be so good!

  • Kay Sloan

    Wonderful! Thank you for creating this magnificent journey into the past. So much detail. Great talents here!

  • Kevin Yorke

    I was totally and utterly spellbound by this. Words can’t express just how good this is. To the students who created this, THANK YOU.

  • Stuart Federhart Holland

    I’m wondering about all the windows in the buildings. I had heard that one of the reasons the houses were so dark is that people were taxed by the number of windows in their houses.

  • Kate Mortimer

    This is quite amazing but rather static, in my opinion. Only once did I see any human shapes in the streets, yet we know from historical sources that the streets were not nearly so clean. This city in this era was full of people, smells, rats, dogs and cats, horse droppings and garbage. Where are the mudlarks, those little kids who swarmed the banks of the river to find pickings they might sell for a few pennies?

  • Artis Silins

    They where left with the other 6 members of the team.

  • owen

    Develop it a little more, combine it with ipad accelerometer and map it using gps, and you could walk through old london, looking at it through your ipad

  • justaguy

    In 1666 you had the second great period of English music dawning (after that during Elizabeth’s reign), and they chose to go with movie music from 2013. It’s a pity, but it’s also indicative of how far music as an academic discipline has moved away from the other humanities. The other humanities now know nothing about it and produce things like this–excellent in most regards, but failing to produce a true picture of the time. nnnBallads are not really appropriate in any case for the ethos of 1666 London, which was determinedly cosmopolitan and very proud of its secular and sacred music.

  • justaguy Some epoch-appropriate music which is also very moody and appropriate. Orlando Gibbons, early 17th century, London.

  • Mike Magee

    I think the point intended was that many, perhaps most, of the building were Tudor, Tudor style, built in Elizabeth’s time and still standing. Just as Dickensian London was primarily Georgian not Victorian.

  • Mike Magee

    I think the point intended was that most of the building were Tudor, Tudor style, built in Elizabeth’s time and still standing. Just as Dickensian London was primarily Georgian not Victorian.

  • gary

    I really liked it, and can’t wait for the next production, but that video converter overlay at the end is highly deceptive and strikes me as an illegitimate use of an advertiser’s prerogatives, implying among other things both that the production Is downloadable and that Video converter is required to download the production and to run it.. Definitely leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth about the whole show, which is really sad.

  • lex

    The ‘window tax’ was introduced in 1696 by King William II – a long time after the Tudors.

  • niccolonic

    they should go into game development…

  • PuddingLane

    Hey all, I’m a member of the team and would just like to say a big thanks for the feature here and the comments below. Just to clarify, we aren’t animators, nor are we historians, so if there are any historical inaccuracies (of which I’m sure there are many) then we apologise! As for populating the world, we worked on this over a 14 week period, so had neither the time nor resources to populate it as much as we’d like. Please head on over to our blog to read more about the team and the processes behind the level. Thanks againnn

  • antoine de couldn’t

    Loved it – and as realistic as you’re likely to get for this period, unless someone takes a camcorder back on Dr. Emmett Brown’s time Delorean !

  • The Wizard of u00d6zil

    Very realistic looking, great work! Would make a great game platform

  • John Law

    The music is from the film “Black Hawk Down” The title is Leave No Man Behind.

  • John Law

    The music is from the film “Black Hawk Down” The title is Leave No Man Behind.

  • Tom

    I think that this is wonderful, but believe that 3 things are missing: the mass of humanity, the dark/dank/dreary/wet cold, and the filth.

  • Julia

    Beautiful work…aesthetically, musically, emotionally and spiritually. Congratulations on this accomplishment.

  • Roger Benham

    Everything moves too fast.

  • Jonny

    The Elder Scrolls: London ;)

  • Sarah Lucas

    fantastic, thank you, my eight year loves it.

  • MAry Potts

    Please share the name of that haunting also is marvelous….

  • DannyJane

    One quibble. This is not Tudor London. The Tudors died out in 1601 with the death of Elizabeth I. This is Stewart London.

  • CatherineABC

    I thin the depiction is not so much to evoke the latest upper class fashions of that year, but to give a sense of that area of London at the time. The average person would still be playing old ballads and living much as their ancestors did hundreds of years previously.

  • Richard

    1603, Danny-Jane, and it’s spelled Stuart, but your point is well-taken.

  • carole mclean

    It DOES say 17th century, not 16th.

  • carole mclean

    I wonder if you could do better?

  • GF2013

    This is superb. Having worked until recently only a few streets away from Pudding Lane, it is brilliant to see a representation of what it may have looked like. Well done

  • Sonia Bennett Murray

    Breathtaking! Absolutely beautiful! If I may make one suggestion – slow it down so viewers can enjoy it more!

  • Joy Ashall

    Well I loved it and perhaps yes it could
    have been a little slower to take it all in but I thought it wonderful. Thank you.

  • stylus

    Nice work! What program was used to create? Painstaking research (or labor of love) into the buildings on particular streets and lanes, if this is all accurate. I’ve done the same thing with 1600 and 1700s Boston, in a picturebook form (not yet published). Beautiful work!

  • Steve Bouler Here are 18 VR reconstructions of lost theatres and playhouses from historical eras from the Ancient Greeks through the 17th Century. “Worls of Warcraft for theatre historians.”

  • Dave Anderson

    Inspired choice to use the Hans Zimmer music as the soundtrack. As an archaeologist who has just been involved in excavating part of a medieval burgh, I found the whole thing realistic and absolutely fascinating

  • victoria

    As a student if this period, I found it amazing that the architecture and the views of the daily life, could be so realistically reproduced.

  • Dorothy (Dot) Commie

    Em! Yes – I suppose a rather idealised video portrayal without the effluent and streets running with ‘you know what’. And, where were the people, beasts of burden, miscreant malnourished urchins and dictatorial militia, etc? And, please can you add an app that could give us the putrid smell of the times as well as the quaint cottage upon cottage struggling poverty people of the time view?nnEver so sorry! This is a travesty of history. And, we all know it!

  • StephenJohnAvalyanNewton

    That’s why they all burned so quickly – wood content.

  • StephenJohnAvalyanNewton

    Its great.

  • Rick A. from Portland, M.

    Actually, the Stuarts came to power with Elizabeth’s death in 1603.

  • Christopher Barnett

    I’ve worked with games engines for about 9 years as an animator and 3D model artist so I guess I’ve come to expect more from people =/