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DigiCULT
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50
duced and investigated to determine which
offers the most promise for acceptance as a
standard for facilitating widespread use and
long-term preservation.
BREAKOUT SESSION
F
ollowing these general discussions, a
breakout session allowed participants
to explore 3D digitisation and distribu-
tion with regard to three specific topics:
methodology and technology led by David
Dawson, MINERVA and the Museums,
Libraries and Archives Council (MLA:
http://www.mla.gov.uk/); content and
users led by David Clarke, ORION and
National Museums of Scotland (http://
www.nms.ac.uk), and business mod-
els led by Dario Avallone, BRICKS and
Engineering, Ingegneria Informatica SpA
(http://www.eng.it/). The results of the
breakout session are outlined below.
Methodology and Technology
E
xisting hardware and software solu-
tions are not adequate. The group
felt that a thorough examination of exist-
ing tools should be undertaken to iden-
tify what works and what does not.
70
The
group cited the concept of a 3D network
of excellence ­which was also mentioned
during the opening session ­ as something
that could greatly assist in this task.
P
articipants identified several `soft bar-
riers' that would perhaps be more dif-
ficult to overcome than any technical
problems in the creation and distribution
of 3D virtual models in the cultural herit-
age sector. These `soft barriers' reflect per-
ceptions regarding the overall quality of 3D
virtual models, a questioning of the value
that 3D virtual models can offer the cul-
tural heritage sector, and lack of special-
ised technical skills among cultural heritage
staff. To help identify the value of 3D vir-
tual models versus the costs associated with
creating them (costs can vary from
10
to
4000 per image depending on qual-
ity), the group suggested that an evaluation
of user impact be carried out.
71
The group
acknowledged that the current costs of dis-
play technology might deter many from
undertaking 3D digitisation activities. Even
in Hollywood, where virtual reality and
3D have been hailed for years as `the next
big thing', little impact has been made. The
video game market appears to have had the
largest success with 3D digitisation and dis-
tribution.
T
he group believed that active curation
of the 3D virtual model over its entire
lifespan would be of vital importance. This
would help to ensure continued accessibil-
ity, authenticity and reusability of the item.
The application of appropriate metadata
will also be essential to meet the needs of
a variety of end-users as well as curation
requirements.
72
P
articipants felt that the cultural heritage
sector would benefit from improving
and increasing communication and co-
operation among all stakeholders. Indeed,
this belief was reiterated throughout the
discussions within each breakout group.
CONTENT AND USERS
P
articipants began by questioning
whether end-users actually require
3D virtual models or if 2.5D is more than
adequate for the general end-user of cul-
tural heritage images. Apart from the `wow
factor', the group questioned the current
value of 3D virtual models to the general
user. The group were also doubtful wheth-
er the general user would have the neces-
sary technology to access and view these
3D resources. It was felt that, until 3D digi-
tisation and distribution becomes common-
place in society in general via television,
mobile phones and film companies, the
demand for 3D virtual models in the cul-
tural heritage sector would remain low.
The group also acknowledged that, as costs
decreased in the technology for display-
ing 3D virtual models, the general pub-
lic would increase their demand for such
resources. Research into the development
of the Cultural Patrimony Domain was
identified as important, especially regarding
the implementation of a large repository for
dissemination and commercial applications.
I
t was felt that 3D virtual models could
be of the greatest benefit to the inter-
mediate user at this point. For instance,
the use of 3D virtual models in museums
could potentially lead to increased efficien-
cy in collections management activities.
This is due to the fact that museums gen-
erate several images for any given object
ranging from images for registration, loans,
conservation and insurance purposes. One
high-quality 3D virtual model could hypo-
thetically replace all of these images and
save the museum time and money.
T
he group cited the lack of indus-
try standards as a major problem in
the creation and distribution of 3D vir-
tual models for the cultural heritage sector
and saw this as an area where more research
is required. The group also felt that more
research into user needs would be necessary
to ensure that adequate tools for capture,
display and reuse could be developed.
BUSINESS MODELS
A
t present, 3D cultural heritage mod-
els are not being fully exploited for
their business value. The end-user commu-
nity is simply too limited. Before any real
progress can be made regarding the com-
mercial value of the digitisation and distri-
bution of 3D cultural heritage models, the
target audience must be broadened con-
siderably. Economic sustainability for 3D
virtual models was seen as key to their cre-
ation and use. To ensure this, the cultural
heritage sector must look beyond the use
for which the image was originally created
and encourage reuse in other sectors.
70 This is currently being developed in the SCULPTEUR Project
http://www.sculpteurweb.org/
71 Work is being carried out at the Petrie Museum on this type of
evaluation. http://www.petrie.ucl.ac.uk/
72 See ERPANET Preservation of Born-digital Art Workshop, also
in this issue.