Recreating 18th century Liverpool

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Just been talking to Kyle who works in our new media unit and is currently working on an interactive for the forthcoming International Slavery Museum - it looks pretty good even at this stage. There are going to be a number of interactives on the gallery, and this one is based on documents in our collection (the Davenport collection actually). It will tell the tale of the Essex, a typical Liverpool slave ship, and follows the vessel as it sets sail from the port (that's a Liverpool dock in the image) to Africa and then on the the Americas.

computer generated image showing ships in a dock with warehouses behind

A scene from the interactive showing the Essex in dock in Liverpool.

Must admit, I wouldn't have the patience or eye for detail to do Kyle's job. Just about five minutes worth of interactive is literally taking him weeks to create, as every aspect of the interactive needs to be built from scratch.  Just the ship in this image took about a week to complete - the surfaces of all the ropes, wood, sails etc needed to be individually built in 3D Studio Max (that's an industry-standard application used to create 3D models of the type you'd see in any video game). The harbour walls themselves were a lot easier as they are basic 'boxes' with relatively little detail.

Also, Kyle's job isn't just about the technical side of things. He needs to think about everything from the story boarding, scripting and voice overs, to building, editing and combining his creation. Then there's issues like creating the right atmosphere for the piece (cartoony wouldn't work for such a serious issue), making sure the interactive itself is engrossing, and all the while sticking to the facts by creating historically accurate ships, buildings, clothes etc.  Who knew it took so much?  I'll pop in again in a few weeks and see where he's up to with it.

More progress images are on our Flickr page.