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In July 2017 3deep Media was involved in one of the largest international projects related to surveying a historic shipwreck. The Thistlegorm Project is part of a wider maritime archaeology project called Presence in the Past, which is a Newton Fund project directed by Dr Jon Henderson of the University of Nottingham. When the rest of the world thinks about Egypt and its history, places such as Pyramids and the Sphinx are widely known but the history goes far wider and deeper (no pun intended!) that these iconic places. The underwater heritage is out of reach to most, so the University of Nottingham, Ain Shams (Cairo) and Alexandria University are collaborating on 3D and virtual reality platform that bring submerged subjects to the surface and let everyone appreciate just what lies on the seabed.
The SS Thistlegorm is widely known amongst the diving community and regularly appears in those “top ten” dive lists that appear from time to time. But the wreck and its story is hardly known outside of the diving community. Bringing such an iconic and popular shipwreck to the surface and telling its tale as a 3D model and 360 video the Thistlegorm the ideal candidate.
Both the ship itself, its history and the cargo carried makes the Thistlegorm extremely interesting subject to scan. But there was another reason: After 76 years of immersion in salt water the Thistlegorm is at risk. The numbers of dive boats that visit and moor to the wreck are placing a strain on the ship that is damaging the site. By establishing a baseline survey future changes to the structure can be monitored.
In order to capture the 360 degree underwater videos at depths up to 40m, we used a Kolor GoPro Abyss rig, this comprised of six individual cameras in an array, each shooting 4K Ultra HD footage.
Our aim was to capture both static shots from inside and outside the wreck as well as moving footage from around the wreck site. The final dive involved mounting the Abyss system to the front of a DPV (underwater scooter) and using this to create a complete 360 degree virtual dive around the wreck site. Due to the high resolution, the total file size from all the cameras was roughly 50GB per dive. In total we recorded over 1.5Tb of raw 360 footage during the project.
The project went live in October 2017 and you can now experience a virtual dive on the shipwreck on The Thistlegorm Project website.