In the early 1900s, it was the era of the newsreel, but at the same time, it was rare to have cameras at the moments of real impact. The sinking of the Lusitania was a media circus, and I am unaware of any footage of the sinking. Though it took two years, and was released at the end of World War I, McKay's The Sinking of the Lusitania was played like a newsreel. Based on survivor accounts, the animation was actually the longest ever produced up to that point.
It is unlike many of McKay's other surviving pieces. It's more realistic, though it also shows McKay's hand at work. It's a beautiful work, and it took two years to complete, which would make you think that it would have been so far after the fact that it would have lost the heat, but that is not the case. In a way, it re-established the sinking as an important aspect of 20th century, which it has remained to today.