With the advent of 3D modelling and Virtual Reality(VR) technology, there has been emergence of radically different ways of visualising digital contents. The 3D modelling has made digitisation of sculptures, paintings, buildings,etc much more easier. The techniques for generating 3D models varies from using complex and precise laser scanning to simple smart phone apps like 123D catch. Due to availability of cheap VR headset like Google Cardboard, Samsung VR and high-end Oculus headset, there has been increase in the research and content creation in VR.The 3D modelling and VR technology go hand in hand, as one can easily incorporate their 3D models in their virtual reality scenes. The use of 3D reconstruction and VR has picked up among digital humanists and applications developed are really inspiring. The study of three abstracts is presented here which employ these techniques for preservation of the ancient heritage and providing unique method to digitally interact with them.
The Digital Dunhuang project, which aims of digitising The Mogao Caves in China. With its 700 plus caves,having several sculptures and painting are the evidence of ancient China’s connection with Central Asia and India, along the Silk Route.The second abstract talks about 3D modelling of Venetian Galeazza, the best designed ship for both commerce and battle during 16th and 17th century and explores the reason for Venetian dominance in Mediterranean Sea, and the third abstract recreates the life of Australian Aboriginal,the oldest continuous living culture on the planet, using simulations and 3D games.
All the three works are trying to preserve the ancient heritage and bring it to public and researchers of the world in much more comprehensive and interactive way.The reason for preservation are different for all the projects.
The Mogao Caves have been damaged due local climatic changes and increase in the number of tourist visiting these caves. The quality of air, humidity and temperature have to be controlled inside the cave to stop the deterioration of the colour of the cave painting. With the 3D models and virtual reality tour of the cave, one can access the cave paintings and sculptures without physically being there. The 3D modelling of the Venetian Galeazza has given researchers various technical details that why they were successful for so long in the Mediterranean Sea and enabled them to understand maritime history of that period, which was difficult to infer directly from the painting or text on these fleet. Using this model, researchers were able to study the different aspect of the naval structure like waterline, centre of gravity, total volume for storage, arrangement of ballast and ammunition. The Australian Aboriginal Dreaming project employs virtual reality and interactive computer games to give a peek into the life of the ancient culture. There exits a cultural divide among modern Australian population and Aborigines. This project tries to narrow this gap by educating the modern Australians, about the culture of Aborigines.
The objective of these projects are similar but methods involved to reach the goal, vary widely. The difference comes from the way information is aggregated for creation of 3D realism.The researchers in Dunhuang project aim at creation of truly immersive experience of the Caves.They have 3D scanned the caves.The spatial grids of the caves are mapped with the digital images of the murals and paintings, which provide better information of the spatial complexity and inter painting relationship. The high-definition scan allows the user to access the intricate details. In this video we can get the glimpse of the project.The Venetian Galeazza and Australian Aboriginal Dreaming project are more about recreating the past from the information available in the present. The Venetian Galeazza project rely on the ancient books and detailed paintings for the ship design. They use CAD (Rhino 3D)and naval simulation software to render 3D model the ship. Also to add more realism to their model, they used Maxwell Render to apply high level texture to the selected parts. They have rendered realistic model of exterior and interior of Galeazza. For the Aboriginal Dreaming project researcher have gathered useful information in text,and images from the Aboriginal cultural authorities to generate imagery of the their clothes, colour that they put on their face and habitat in which Aboriginal lived. They have involved the Aboriginal community for developing their 3D content and writing stories for the game. They have employed 3D motion capture using XSENS suit, as they act out few scenes and later create computer model of it. They use interactive 3D game and Oculus Rift, where user gets a first person perspective of aboriginal’s life and traditions. Here is the demo of the simulation.
As shown by these works, 3D modelling and VR techniques not only help in preservation of heritage by digitization but they bring life to mere pictures, painting,and texts. They add interactions which are more appealing to we human beings.The people generally associate the VR and 3D tools with gaming or CAD. But people around the world are developing entirely different use cases. Here is a TED talk about developing empathic emotions using VR. It will be interesting to see similar ‘out of the box’ applications in digital humanities research using VR and 3D techniques.