National Maritime Museum Horizon Project

Rethinking archives

RenderHeads won a tender to code the “Horizon” interactive installation in the new Compass Lounge, which forms part of the newly opened Sammy Ofer Wing of the National Maritime Museum (NMM) in London. We are pleased to have a permanent installation in one of the UK’s top 10 visitor attractions.

The Horizon installation allows people to effortlessly and intuitively navigate through over 4000 high resolution images from the NMM archives. The images are displayed on 5 large screens that curve around you, creating an immersive canvas that fills your peripheral vision. Using a giant silver trackball for navigation, you can easily jump between categories and bring up images to examine them in crisp detail.

RenderHeads worked in collaboration with Kin (design), National Maritime Museum (client), University of Dundee (layout algorithm) and Liminal (audio) to create the software for Horizon. The images are split into 5 categories:

Flags
Oil Paintings
Ship Models
Uniforms
Coins
The images were grouped together by category and arranged by an algorithm developed by members of the University of Dundee based on texture, hue and other image properties

Horizon1

Horizon2

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Technical Details

Total resolution of the application is 9600x1080 pixels.
The 5 monitors run from an AMD EyeFinity graphics card in a 5x1L (landscape) configuration.
Over 46 gigabytes of uncompressed image data.
A multi-threaded image streaming and caching system was developed to handle the large amount of image data.
All code was written in C# using the .NET framework and SlimDX.

Technologies Used

  • Windows
  • C# .NET
  • Direct X
  • AMD Eyefinity
  • Visual Studio
  • SlimDX