Cutty Sark: Ship Alive

Join the crew of the Cutty Sark as you peer back in time to a treacherous Arctic Passage of the world-famous clipper.

Platform : iOS

Runtime : 5 minutes

Release : 2021

Royal Museums Greenwich asked Alchemy Immersive to develop a prototype that would test the use case for an immersive experience aboard the legendry ship Cutty Sark. Standing atop its visitors centre in Greenwich, London, Cutty Sark has captured the imagination of visitors and passers-by since its installation in 1954. Now though, thanks to the help of immersive stories and augmented reality, you can see the ship alive.

Working closely with the Museum and their team, we set out to create a narrative based journey that invited users to explore and navigate the ship using a story. This was done using two key components, spatialised sound and augmented reality.

Initially focusing on one chapter for the prototype, we developed a spatial sound narrative that guided users and focused them on the ship’s capstan. At the bow of the ship, the capstan was used by the crew to lower and raise sails. The narrative was developed to focus on the real characters of the Cutty Sark’s crew, engaging users with the human-focused history of the ship as appose to the mechanical features.

With our script written, recorded by the very talented ambassadors of Cutty Sark (post-produced by 1.618 Digital), we set to work bringing the second component, AR. User journey, access and seamlessness were foremost of RMGs objectives for the project. As such, we set out with the ambition of creating a markerless AR experience that would animate historical figured around the capstan. Achieving this was technically challenging but accomplished using iPad and LiDAR scans of the capstan to trigger the AR scene using object recognition.

We wanted it to feel as if you had the power to look back in time. Following RMGs artistic style, we developed custom shaders inside Unity to provide a line-drawn effect that was overlayed onto your phone’s camera. This effect was then employed to animate the rich audio story.

All of this culminated in a short prototype experience that allows you to visualise Cutty Sark in her hay-day, navigating the treacherous Arctic Straights on a voyage laden with tea chests. In a rush to slow the boat, more hands are needed on the capstan to lower the sails. Through your phone, watch as the men turn the capstan amongst rich immersive soundscape.


Lead Developer and 3D Artist

Bhaumik Patel

Creative Producer

Elliot Graves

Script Writer

Iona McEwan

UI and UX

Lucas Krull

Sound Design

Oliver Kadel (1.618 Digital)

Digital Producer (RMG)

Hans Biorn-Lian

Partnership Advisor

Emily Smith

Voice Actors

RMG Cutty Sark

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