Background about the Animations

These animations were created by the Ocean Technology Foundation, a non-profit organization located in Connecticut.  Its mission is to foster excellence in undersea research, education, and exploration, and to promote commercial development -- from the coast to the deep ocean.

The creation of these animations entailed many hours of research on HMS Challenger, which included reading through some of the original Challenger publications, looking at the original deck plans of the ship, photos and drawings done by the Challenger crew, and even touring 19th century sailing ships at maritime museums.  Sometimes information is scarce and the designers and researchers are left to "fill in the blanks."  This was the case in the formation of the engine room clip.  Only a few sentences were found about the engine, and no pictures were available, so the animation was modeled after an engine of the late 1800's that was used on a sailing ship similar to Challenger.

After the historical and archival research is completed, images are scanned and can be used with computer software.  Blueprints and drawings of the ship were scanned in two dimensions (top view and side view) and with the aid of software, were transformed into three dimensional shapes.  "It's a lot like sculpting, or even similar to building an actual ship," says designer Rick Fernandes.  The animations are brought to life through the software, and there is a camera representing the eye of the observer.  The designer chooses how to "fly" the camera, and that produces the flow of the picture.

People who create animations can have various backgrounds in fields such as mechanical engineering, history, information technologies, or other disciplines.  To create animations of ships, it is helpful to have prior knowledge of shipbuilding, naval architecture, or maritime history.