As the sky burned
A journey without return!
1937, Lakehurst, USA.
It had rained rubble, ashes and burning people for 32 seconds. The airship Hindenburg had hovered over the floor for an endless blink of an eye.
Then, the 16 huge gascells of the zeppelin exploded and 20 000 cubic meters of hydrogin formed one of the most terrible engineering catastrophes of the last century.
Almost 75 years later, Pixomondo got the task to bring this catastrophe on screen. The Hindenburg has been digitally reconstructed screw for screw. A lot of camera positions are recreated basing on documentary material.
Our task was to stage the explosion by reference to the original material.
We began with an exact analysis of the documents which had been recorded on May 6th, 1937 at Lakehurst.
We were surprised as we got to know that the Hindenburg crashed by daylight. I had seen documental filmshots before, which showed dusky sceneries like at night. But this is because the cameramen had to readjust the apertures of their cameras due to the fact that the explosion caused a very bright light: The fireball was so bright that its environment looked dark like at night. That was exactly what caused us headache during the analysis: Some bright areas were superimposed and many other parts of the images fell into black. Thus we missed important information - how did the drawing of the explosions look like? Where were the details? How bright were the flames? What color was the fireball?
Only black and white photographs of the disaster were available as a starting point .
Step by step we had to reconstruct the explosion ...
Such a large explosion is usually created by a mix of computer-generated effects and real footages which had been previously shot.
To this purpose, pyrotechnists shot numerous fireballs at Green Screen. These shots served then later as the basis of the Hindenburg-explosion:
We recreated the catastrophe out of this material. The advantage thereby were the Concept Rats which could easily be implemented as moving images, since they were based on the same source material.
Basic footage for later works...
To date there is no explanation for this inferno. Instead, more or less wild speculation - ranging from lightning, St. Elmo's fire and sabotage up to simple construction mistakes.
With the Hindenburg-inferno, the giants of the skies came to their end. Such luxury airships should never rise up into the sky again.