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Interactive Annual 17:
information design

Expedition Titanic

Launch Live Site

“Beautifully produced with great design, motion and sound; this is an excellent interactive documentary experience.” —Adrian Belina

“I love sites that take common interaction conventions, like scrolling, and utilize them to deliver a unique experience that aligns closely with the subject matter.”
—Jared Benson

Overview: On August 22, 2010, nearly one hundred years after the sinking of Titanic, the scientific expedition of a lifetime began. The goal of this site was to create a moment-in-time portrait, virtually raising the ship for the rest of time. Perhaps the only comprehensive Web site detailing the shipwreck, Expedition Titanic uses a scrolling navigation treatment to take visitors on a two-and-a-half mile dive down to the wreck site. Through stories, images, videos and an interactive map, the site explores the entire wreck and presents details and intricacies of the Titanic that only experts know. When the expedition began, a live feed allowed people to follow along with the daily events of the expedition; updates from the ship were uploaded to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and aggregated into the feed.

  • • Firstborn pitched for the work in April 2010 and began development in May; the campaign included launches for a teaser site, social channels and communication along the way; the full site launched August 5, 2010.
  • • Since launch, the site’s received 608,786 visits, with the largest peak during the expedition-between August 17 and September 2, 2010. With no paid media, in just four weeks, visitors were spending an average of almost ten minutes exploring the site.

Comments by Kristin Keefe/Dave Snyder/Nikki Defeo:

How did this project compare with others you’ve worked on in the past? “Expedition Titanic was unique in that we weren’t working on a brand experience, or really a brand at all. We essentially got a brief that said, ‘We’re going back to the Titanic, what should we do?’ We were tasked with making a very scientific mission exciting to non-scientists, while not alienating the historians, scientists and other experts that share a passion for the ship. The project was creatively revitalizing. Sure, there were big time constraints that limited what we could do and yes, it was difficult from a development and 3-D standpoint, and yes, there was a ton of content to create, but looking back on it, we’re really proud of what we achieved. Working on something historic, educational and non-commercial and watching it all unfold live on the Today Show, and through the social frame-work we built, was very cool. Once we launched and our work was ‘done,’ it was really exciting to just sit back and watch this virtual expedition back to the Titanic.”

Did any information arise during the process that affected development? “After the initial project began we learned quite a bit about the technology used to map the shipwreck. Both autonomous under-water vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) were paramount in virtually raising Titanic and preserving the legacy. In learning more about these robots and the roles they played in documenting the wreck site, we knew that they needed to be featured within the site in a way people could explore them. After gaining approval from each manufacturer, our 3-D department created models of each robot allowing us to have 360-view callouts that helped document the expedition. This was something that was unplanned, but totally added to the site experience.”


Hoshi Ludwig, art director
Nikki Defeo, writer
Dave Snyder, associate creative director
JoonYong Park, chief creative officer
Rafael Rinaldi, Flash programmer
Zeh Fernando, technical lead
Francis Turmel, technology director
Katie Fahrenthold, artist
Bryant Jow, studio artist
Will Russell, video director
Shushan Xu/Justin Young, 3-D animators
Akash Sheladia, motion graphics
Kristin Keefe, senior producer
Crystinue Cho, executive producer
Chris Davino/Chris Greco/Kris Hart/Alexandra Klingelhofer/Rebecca Parker/Katherine Seymour/Allison Worrall/John Zaller, curators
Firstborn (New York, NY), project design and development
RMS Titanic, Inc., client

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