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
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.