Balloon Museum: Ropes And Sails Will Steer the Way

Chris Musello, Ph.D., President of Sightworks, was preparing an exhibition for the Balloon Museum in Albuquerque.  It concentrated on the 1897 North Pole expedition of Swedish explorer S.A. Andrée in a gas balloon.

At that time explorers from different countries were competing to be the first to reach the North Pole—ships and sleds would get caught in the ice—and S.A. Andrée thought a balloon would carry them over that obstacle easily.

We made 2 short films: “Ropes and Sails” which explains the technology Mr. Andrée created to be able to control the direction and speed of his balloon and “Wind and Water” which concerns the environmental challenges he faced.

It was a bold plan, and perhaps Mr. Andrée was a bit over-confident.  Unfortunately, his team never made it to the Pole, but the film's attempt to convey the spirit they had in trying to achieve it.


When Chris Musello called us, he was concerned that this was a serio-comedic event. S.A. Andrée, well-known in Europe and among balloonists, was overly confident that he could reach the North Pole by balloon when all other explorers who used ships and sleds could not. He and his crew members packed little for this adventure, thinking it would take little time–and they even packed champagne and top hats for the celebration! Unfortunately everyone died.  He didn’t account for the winds and water currents around the pole.

Our challenge was to make an entertaining video about this ill-fated voyage, without disparaging these brave men.

We decided to make it à la Monty Python– using actual images of the time and animating them to some comic relief. The voiceover and sound design enhanced the effect, so the film, accurate as it was, could be enjoyed by the museum visitor without the gruesome details.

It played well through the exhibition year and was reviewed nicely. This was also the final big project that Rick and I worked on together before he retired in 2017.



Animation Company: Buzzco Associates, inc.
Producer: Marilyn Kraemer
Directed by: Candy Kugel and Rick Broas
Written by: Chris Musello
Animation by: Rick Broas and Candy Kugel
Sound Design: Richard Fairbanks, Pharoah Editorial

Narrator: Nigel Nobel


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