Over a rainy week in early February I had a bit of an interesting time at work, but before I get to that, let me turn the clock back 5 or 6 months.
We’ve worked with games developer and publisher wargaming.net before. In October 2015 we were the host venue for the launch of their Second World War naval combat MMO World of Warships (worth checking out by the way). Since then we have tried to foster a relationship that could benefit both wargaming.net and my employer, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.
It was hard going at first, not because either party was being obstructive, but because we simply hadn’t done anything like this before and there were some serious questions that needed answering. Chatham is home to a national memorial, it is an accredited museum, it is operated by a charitable trust, so a company that makes its money “promoting” warfare might not seem like the best fit.
So we did some research, we spoke to pre-existing partner organisations and we spoke to wargaming.net themselves. What came out of all of those investigations was a feeling that they actually cared about the history, they wanted to tell the stories and there was a definite benefit to working with them in a more constructive way. We saw some of the work they had already done with museums in the UK and abroad. The Tank Museum has an education centre as a result of the partnership. USS Kidd had a great documentary made and the USS Iowa has a wraparound CGI recreation of her bridge in battle in the Pacific installed on the vessel.
HMS Cavalier is certainly worthy of the attention. She is the last remaining Royal Navy destroyer of the Second World War and served from 1944 until 1972. She is now preserved and maintained as Britain’s National Destroyer Memorial to the 142 British destroyers that were lost during the war and the 11,000 men who were lost with them.
So contact has been maintained since October last year and in February 2016 we had another visit. This time the focus wasn’t their own software or some new content, it was our vessels. Dan Snow and Richard Cutland (wargaming.net’s military specialist) have been onboard HMS Cavalier filming videos that will promote the vessel and her history. Some of the footage has been shot by a drone and all of it has been shot with 360 degree cameras. We’ve fired guns, they’ve interviewed former crew members and current volunteers, visited and filmed parts of the ship not normally accessible to the public and they brought the press with them to see the ship and the Dockyard.
In between the flurry of activity associated with the filming, Dan wanted to see (and film for himself) as much of the site as possible, so whenever there was a break in the schedule he’d run off and do some 360 filming of his own. He visited the Ropery, HMS Ocelot, HMS Gannet and Slip 3 (which needs to be formatted before I can share the link). He also nipped off and visited other local historical attractions, Rochester and Upnor Castles (who were all treated to their own 360 video treatment). And he tried his hand at a bit of drone footage using his own machine with his own Go-Pro dangling off the bottom of it. A decision he possibly now regrets as his drone and his Go-Pro ended up at the bottom of Number 2 Dock after the batteries ran out and it went into an emergency landing over the water – all broadcast live on Persicope while viewers added helpful comments like “pull up”.
Here are the videos of the Dockyard, and a link to the Periscope that spelled the end for Dan’s drone…
You can pause the videos at any point and move the view around, or if you’re watching on a mobile device, simply pan and tilt the device to move the view.
And here’s the expensive dip in the dock.
So as you can see, an interesting week at work – not to mention an interesting evening in the pub.