3D visualisation of historic and environmentally significant shipwrecks
: the development of occlusion objects, Locoramps and digital cinematography

  • Chris Rowland

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis explores the hypothesis that current industry standard methods used to visualise environmentally hazardous or historically significant shipwrecks can be improved by adopting a number of new, aesthetically considered, methods. The thesis describes the development of occlusion objects, locoramps and the use of digital cinematography, as methods that the author proposes to improve the 3D visualisation of point cloud data from multibeam sonar. Case studies were selected as the basis for experimentation; they include HMS Royal Oak in Orkney and SS Richard Montgomery in the Thames Estuary. The author collaborated with a multi-disciplinary team of forensic maritime archaeologists, marine surveyors and salvage experts to gain access to unique shipwreck sites and the high resolution sonar data gathered from them. Through experimentation with the data, occlusion objects, locally oriented colour ramps (locoramps) and improved depth cueing through digital cinematography were developed and applied in 3D visualisations of the case study wrecks. A real-time application WreckSight was created to exploit the new methods. The resulting 3D visualisations of the wrecks were evaluated by a number of target audience groups by means of an interactive questionnaire that allows a direct comparison of data presented using the new methods with traditional display methods. Analysis of the resulting data shows a statistical significance that supports the hypothesis. The author proposes that the new methods constitute new knowledge in the 3D visualisation of multibeam sonar data of shipwrecks.
    Date of Award2010
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorNigel Johnson (Supervisor) & Stephen Parkes (Supervisor)


    • 3D Visualisation
    • Maritime Archaeology
    • Animation
    • Shipwrecks

    Cite this