"The Wreck of the Portland" for The Discovery Science Channel


Over a decade before great ships like the Titanic were cruising the Atlantic, sidewheel steamers like the Portland were the pride of their respective fleets. The ships had a reliability advantage over sailing vessels and were the state-of-the-art luxury transportation of the time. On Thanksgiving weekend in Novenber of 1898, the steamer Portland with 192 aboard, left Boston Harbor headed for Portland, Maine... but ran straight into a monsterous storm moving up the coast. The steamers were extremely unstable in high seas and the Portland was never seen again until its wreck was first located in 1989 and then, an expidition in 2002, using remotely operated vehicles, confirmed that it was indeed the Portland.

Working with the Discovery Channel and David Clark Productions, Home Run Pictures produced 90 seconds of animation visualizing what scientist believe may have been the fate of the Portland. The steamer's long, narrow shape and shallow draft probably caused its crew to loose control in the rough seas... so they could not keep the steamer's bow pointing into the oncoming waves. Imagey of the wreck shows the top deck was ripped off... possibly by a rogue wave.

Home Run Picturse worked in tandum with Cleveland based, Kaleidoscope Animations to create Hi-Def animation sequences depicting various stages of the steamers fate. Maya software's fluid effects capabilities tied together with a 1000-processor render farm allowed the animation team to complete the project within an eight week timeframe.

The opening scenes show the Portland steaming out to sea with threatening skys and the beginnings of a snow storm. Eventually the storm worsens and the steamer struggles against the rising seas. A rogue wave hits the ship from the starboard side and she goes down.

The final scenes show underwater views of the ship disappearing into the depths. The animation will be seen as part of a Discovery Science Channel documantary about the Portland that will aired in March of 2004.

Click here for Quicktime movie


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