Watch the Titanic Sink in This Real-Time 3D Animation

Minute by minute time­lines have become a sta­ple of dis­as­ter report­ing.

Know­ing how the sto­ry ends puts the pub­lic in the posi­tion of help­less bystander, espe­cial­ly at those crit­i­cal junc­tures when some­one in a posi­tion of author­i­ty exer­cised poor judg­ment, result­ing in a larg­er loss of life.

Youtu­ber Phillip W, cre­ator of Titan­ic Ani­ma­tions, allows us to expe­ri­ence the famed lux­u­ry liner’s final two and half hours as a time­stamped hor­ror show, above, with­out resort­ing to the­atrics, or a crowd pleas­ing fic­tion­al romance.

Ver­i­fied crew orders, CQD reports, and vacant lifeboat seats pro­vide ample dra­ma along­side mes­mer­iz­ing CGI recre­ations of the doomed lux­u­ry lin­er, its light­ed port­holes reflect­ed in the dark water.

It took around 2 and a half hours for the Titan­ic to sink, just four days into her maid­en voy­age, after strik­ing an ice­berg around 11:40 pm.

As the Smith­son­ian Nation­al Muse­um of Amer­i­can His­to­ry recounts:

The berg scraped along the star­board or right side of the hull below the water­line, slic­ing open the hull between five of the adja­cent water­tight com­part­ments. If only one or two of the com­part­ments had been opened, Titan­ic might have stayed afloat, but when so many were sliced open, the water­tight integri­ty of the entire for­ward sec­tion of the hull was fatal­ly breached. 

Titan­ic Ani­ma­tions tracks myr­i­ad crew mem­bers from this moment on, using fac­tu­al titles, light­ly sup­ple­ment­ed with sound effects of ocean nois­es, alarm bells, and peri­od tunes that would’ve been in the reper­toire of the band that famous­ly did (or didn’t) play on. The head bak­er directs staff to car­ry arm­loads of bread to pro­vi­sion the lifeboats. These morsels of infor­ma­tion and the rel­a­tive­ly placid views affords our imag­i­na­tion free rein to fill in the con­fu­sion, pan­ic and mount­ing des­per­a­tion of those aboard.

This real time sink­ing ani­ma­tion is ren­dered with­out human fig­ures, but Titan­ic Animation’s Twit­ter indi­cates that Phillip W has been hard at work on a new project that places crew and pas­sen­gers on deck, a — for­give us — titan­ic under­tak­ing that also finds him striv­ing to recre­ate every riv­et and rip­ple. A sta­tus update from ear­li­er this spring reads, “2.5 months in. 52,035 frames completed.178,364 left to go.”

The orig­i­nal ani­ma­tion, above, took mul­ti­ple years to com­plete:

A friend and I start­ed work­ing on the first ver­sion back in 2012/2013 and it was released in 2015. It’s been updat­ed over the years, and now I’m the only one left after my friend depart­ed after los­ing inter­est. So around 8–9 years, give or take, and about $8000 in research and ren­der­farms to com­plete.

If you’re inclined to mess around with your own Titan­ic ani­ma­tions, Philip W. has shared a Cin­e­mat­ic Film­ing Mod­el of the Titanic’s exte­ri­or, fea­tur­ing accu­rate port­hole place­ments, telegraphs, fun­nels, rig­ging, ven­ti­la­tion equip­ment place­ments, lifeboats, and approx­i­mate­ly 95,000 riv­ets.

Sub­scribe to Titan­ic Ani­ma­tions here. Those with an inter­est in 3D ani­ma­tion will appre­ci­ate archived livestreams that give a peek at the process.

Nav­i­gate to key moments in real time sink­ing ani­ma­tion using the links below.

00:00:00 — Intro

00:05:00 — Ice­berg Col­li­sion

00:10:00 — 10 Degree List to Star­board

00:11:00 — Steam begins to escape the Fun­nels

00:15:45 — Mail Room begins to flood

00:25:00 — Mid­night

00:30:00 — Squash Court begins to flood

00:37:15 — Lifeboats ordered to be read­ied

00:42:00 — Band Begins Play­ing

00:49:40 — Thomas Andrews relays news to Capt. Smith

00:51:40 — First Dis­tress Call is Sent

01:01:18 — Dis­tress Coor­di­nates are Cor­rect­ed

01:01:38 — Carpathia Makes Con­tact

01:04:00 — Boat 7 (First Boat) is Launched

01:06:00 — The Straus’ Refuse Entry to Boat 8

01:07:00 — Grand Stair­case F‑Deck Begins Flood­ing

01:08:10 — Boat 5 is Launched

01:10:00 — Box­hall & Smith spot Carpathia

01:12:10 — 1st Dis­tress Rock­et Fired

01:15:00 — Grand Stair­case E‑Deck Begins Flood­ing

01:20:00 — Boat 3 is Launched

01:21:00 — Titan­ic Begins Send­ing SOS

01:25:00 — 1AM Boat 8 is Launched

01:30:00 — Boat 1 is Launched

01:35:00 — Boat 6 is Launched

01:35:15 — Boil­er Room 5 Floods

01:40:00 — Water Climbs Grand Stair­case

01:44:30 — Boil­er Room 4 is Aban­doned

01:45:00 — Boat 16 is Launched

01:50:00 — Boat 14 is Launched

01:55:15 — Boats 9 and 12 are Launched

02:00:00 — Boat 11 is Launched

02:04:00 — Titan­ic lists to Port

02:05:00 — Boat 13 is Launched

02:06:00 — Boat 15 is Launched

02:09:00 — D‑deck Recep­tion Room Floods

02:10:00 — Boat 2 is Launched

02:12:00 — Well Deck is Awash

02:14:00 — D‑Deck Recep­tion Room Goes

02:15:00 — Boat 10 is Launched

02:15:10 — Boat 4 is Launched

02:25:00 — 2AM Boat C is Launched

02:26:10 -  Pow­er Begins to Fade

02:29:00 — Boat D is Launched

02:37:15 — Near­er My God to Thee

02:40:00 — Final Plunge

02:42:00 — Breakup

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Titan­ic Sur­vivor Inter­views: What It Was Like to Flee the Sink­ing Lux­u­ry Lin­er

The Titan­ic: Rare Footage of the Ship Before Dis­as­ter Strikes (1911–1912)

How the Titan­ic Sank: James Cameron’s New CGI Ani­ma­tion

“Titan­ic Sink­ing; No Lives Lost” and Oth­er Ter­ri­bly Inac­cu­rate News Reports from April 15, 1912

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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