The Vancouver Maritime Museum has teamed up with world-renowned Haley Sharpe Design and the Centre for Digital Media (CDM) to bring new and innovative visitor experiences to the St. Roch display. This collaboration sees a unique ‘Wheelhouse Experience’ where visitors can drive a simulation of St. Roch through an Arctic pass. A touchscreen has also been developed where visitors can take an in-depth look at the ship, spin it around and pull it apart to see what each of the different areas were used for.
This collaboration was made possible by the generous contribution of Robert Allan Ltd., a strong supporter of the Museum.
"These interactive exhibits have set the Vancouver Maritime Museum interpretation program on an entirely new course. They are informative, visually stunning and most of all - fun for everyone. The Centre for Digital Media should be very proud of this collaboration. Deep appreciation to the students and staff at CDM, Robert Allan Ltd and Haley Sharpe Design from all of us here at the Museum.” Said Ken Burton, Executive Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
The ‘Wheelhouse Experience’ is a replica of the existing St. Roch wheelhouse, with five screens replacing the windows on three sides showing a CGI representation of the hull of the ship amidst the ice flows of the Arctic. Visitors are invited to take the wheel and navigate through a simulation of Canada’s Arctic past wildlife such as walrus, polar bears and narwhal. There are two paths through the ice to choose from as you experience the sounds and sights of the north.
The simulated ship responds to the turning of the wheel twice as fast as the real St. Roch would have done. At a simulated speed of eight knots, you are traveling at more than double the average speed that the St. Roch took through the Northwest Passage.
"The work that our team of students did is excellent," said Dr. Richard Smith, Director for the Centre for Digital Media. "The one-year Master of Digital Media degree program puts our students in project situations with real clients and we encourage them to push the envelope of design, programming and technology. And they certainly succeeded on these projects for the Vancouver Maritime Museum."
Both the Wheelhouse Experience and touchscreen are wheelchair accessible and situated beside the St. Roch in the Museum.
"The touchscreen CGI version of the St. Roch will give individuals who, for whatever reasons, can’t actually physically explore St. Roch an opportunity to see and learn about some of the ship’s unique features." Burton states. The touchscreen also highlights areas below deck that are not usually open for public viewing.
Over a period of six months, eight students from the Master of Digital Media program at the Centre for Digital Media worked with Haley Sharpe Design and Vancouver Maritime Museum to bring to life elements of the celebrated RCMP schooner, St. Roch. The interactive displays were a great hit when tested at the Centre for Digital Media Industry Showcase in June. The entire design process and build was captured in a documentary (http://bit.ly/1DAXXt5) and will be presented at SIGGRAPH 2015 in Los Angeles this week.
“The Vancouver Maritime Museum is a special place where Vancouver’s Maritime History is wrapped up in its wonderful collections and archive, I am so pleased to have helped unlock the potential of the stories that lie within its artifacts and to allow the visitor to experience the real history,” said Bill Haley, company founder and Design Director for Haley Sharpe Design. “The St. Roch is a Canadian icon and should be viewed as that, but it was also a living breathing ship with real people pursuing very dangerous explorations in tough and uncertain environments. By making the St. Roch come to life, to see what they saw and literally follow the ship as it sails through the Northwest Passage, is an amazing experience bringing the whole gallery to life with the sounds and views of the sea.”
The collaboration was so successful that the Vancouver Maritime Museum has already started working with a new cohort of students on a third interactive display, this time aimed at their Children’s Maritime Discovery Centre.