Your Name and Title: Joe Rigby Market Specialist
Museum or Organization Name: MellaniuM
Co-Presenter Name(s): Ken Rigby, Mark Melaney
Area of the World from Which You Will Present: Canada
Language in Which You Will Present: English
Target Audience(s): Museum curators or any educator willing to be open to contemplate the use of 3D virtual environments to promote museum exhibits.
Short Session Description (one line): A presentation to illustrate how any 3D exhibit can be captured by laser scanning and/or photogrammetry and then imported into an MMO virtual environment
Full Session Description (as long as you would like):
At the very end of last year Cosmo Wenman released his “Winged Victory of Samothrace” 3D mesh model onto THINGIVERSE a database of free downloadable 3D models moderated by MAKERBOT 3D printers. These models were ostensibly released to allow the reproduction of his photogrammetrically extracted models on a reduced scale with any 3D printer. However almost as an unexpected side effect of this action it can be regarded as one of the important watersheds in the democratization of 3D data for use by the metaverse. This statue and the “Aphrodite of Milos” from the Louvre museum are seen as the most important art exhibits ever to have been produced by the Classical Greek civilization. MellaniuM has taken these 20 million polygon models and decimated them to a mesh size that could be imported into a virtual museum generated in AVAYALIVE ENGAGE. These two models, now rendered with ~850,000 polygons still possess clear details of the folds in the draped fabric and the exquisite sculpturing of the feathers.
Mark Melaney, CTO of MellaniuM explained that “ Most game designers would state categorically that models with over 64,000 polygons simply cannot be imported into a gaming engine. This may be true in a certain sense but we have developed a procedure to unite sections of larger mesh models to circumvent this limitation” Indeed over the past several years MellaniuM has been researching the methods of developing high polygon realistic environments by this very method of splicing 3D models from smaller partitioned segments to develop highly realistic items.
As a direct result of successfully importing these high definition models into a virtual environment we started discussions with the IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY with a group led by Herbert Maschner (http://ivl.imnh.isu.edu/). The IVL (Idaho Virtualization Laboratory) serves as a laboratory for applying 3D laser scanning technology to research, teaching, and outreach projects developed by scientists and educators.
Since 2008 they have been working on a National Science Foundation funded project titled the "Virtual Zooarchaeology of the Arctic Project," or VZAP. VZAP is a virtual and interactive osteological reference collection for the study of northern vertebrates. VZAP is a dynamic natural history archive that allows students and researchers to examine the complete skeletal anatomies of multiple bird, mammal and fish species in both 2D and 3D. Hopefully with the use of the IVL scanned models in the near future we will generate a museum exhibit consisting of a range of full-scale replicas of skeletons of Arctic mammals such as walruses, orcas and polar bears.
AVAYALIVE ENGAGE is an online, immersive collaboration environment platform that lets you communicate with others as though you were face to-face. AVAYALIVE ENGAGE runs on the UNREAL gaming engine and is embedded as a browser plug-in with auto-configured VOIP and that integrates with your local network, security and business software tools. Knowledge flows freely-from instructor to students, peer to peer, coach to team-all while presentations and materials display. MellaniuM is leveraging this 3D virtual environment platform to be capable of both importing all 3D file formats with photorealistic textures generated both by photogrammetry and laser scanned items and monuments for archaeological and educational use.
ModlThe Unreal engine has been promoted in the past as a complete solution for the accurate rendering of archaeological reconstructions and museum exhibits1. However until the advent of the UNREAL engine version 2.5 and the wide acceptance of hardware 3D graphical acceleration video cards and DIRECTX 9.0 it was highly impractical to produce virtual buildings and accessory items with high polygon static meshes and photo-realistic textures and 2D graphics which were not subject to debilitating pixellation on close inspection. Maria Sifniotis has compiled an excellent summary of the game engines and their strengths and weaknesses http://3dvisa.cch.kcl.ac.uk/paper_sifniotis1.html
However it has to be accepted that the key to effective virtual realism, especially for fields like archaeology, is the creation of an environment so well conceived interpretively that the user becomes emotionally involved in the content of the simulation. Users obviously desire to experience a design that has been created in terms of lighting effects, finishes, surface textures, layout and construction details which will lend itself to a complete suspension of disbelief. The MellaniuM application allows for the importation of high polygon models and rich textures that are being used now in the Virtual Museum complex to create the realism necessary for a true reduction of cognitive friction and the subtle transcendence to a believable immersion.
In addition comprehensive descriptive metadata relating to the original source, age, design and existing knowledge on associated artifacts can be connected effectively to any 3D item in the environment. This type of semantic interactivity is vital to produce an environment that will encompass both a truly informative and a sensory experience resulting in an academically accurate and effective educational space.
It is entirely possible with one URL web link click to enter along with up to 50 others to explore and learn about the fascinating iconic Classical Greek statues such as Nike of Samothrace.
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