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DigiCULT 49
interpretation, alternative and evidence' in RTD con-
centrating on advanced 3D/VR/AR applications. In
particular, Doerr urged that the theme, as stated on
the online consultation platform, `does not touch the
question of the scientific value. A VR representation,
e.g. of Troy, has no scientific value, if the parts can-
not be connected to evidence, alternative representa-
tion and references.' To prevent any technology-driven
approach, the overall question should be: `When will
these things be useful for research and education?
Then the true challenges will appear.' For example, `a
scholarly useful product must have a lifecycle of dec-
ades, not years'.
An Italian archivist envisaged that over the next 10
years the current wave in experimenting with vir-
tual reality technologies in archaeology would be
extended by applied RTD for other historical peri-
ods and environments. This would include urban his-
tory (urbanism, architecture, etc.) represented as a
3D virtual environment `allowing the user to "see" a
place over time, from ancient to contemporary times'.
Before that, applications with 2D cartography would
`offer more and more opportunities to localise cultur-
al heritage in space, linking contemporary cartograph-
ic services online to digitized historical maps'.
The archivist expected that the first generation of
immersive and knowledge-driven VR environments
for the development of historical towns over sever-
al centuries would appear only in 10 years' time, and
would require large interdisciplinary research efforts
`before beginning with the IT issues'. In particular, it
could not be achieved if there were no stable, long-
term collaboration of urban historians from various
disciplines, IT researchers & developers, regional and
city archives, museums and libraries, public adminis-
trations and major tourist associations.
A participant working for a governmental body or
agency addressed issues in the digitisation of heritage
resources that were needed for the creation of novel
information-rich environments. He or she requested
from RTD over the next 10 years to concentrate on
`flexible, standardized, user-friendly and with AI sup-
ported tools for digitisation of ALL kinds of cultural
heritage materials'. The participant saw the main gap
for considerable advances as the fact that technolo-
gy-centred researchers were `missing knowledge about
the nature of cultural objects and about the way cul-
tural heritage organisations are maintaining and creat-
ing their collections'. This hindered considerably the
`integration of available technologies and AI applica-
tions into the design of tools and systems'.
The participant outlined a three-step plan, how this
should be addressed, and the time needed to achieve
State-of-the-Art in 3D/VR/AR
Given the predominant focus of our forum's
participants on 3D technologies, we thought it
useful to give the following three examples of
state-of-the-art research and development that uses
3D objects and environments for virtual, augment-
ed or mixed-reality applications. Links to three
further interesting projects in this RTD area are
La scena di Puccini
One of the most intriguing recent works in this
area is the exhibition `La scena di Puccini', which
took place from September 2003 to February
2004 at the Ragghianti Foundation in Lucca, Ita-
ly. The exhibition was developed by Sensing Plac-
es, an offspring of M.I.T., led by Flavia Sparacino
in close cooperation with opera scenography and
subject-matter experts from the La Scala Opera
theatre in Milan. They strived not only to give
life to the original opera set designs and illustra-
tions of the main characters in full costume, but,
in fact, to develop a model for the museum of the
future. Sensing Places transformed the drawings of
numerous set designs and characters into animat-
ed 3D computer reconstructions, with the char-
acters moving and singing famous arias, and the
costumes showing a realistic flow and drape. Key
tools for these `reconstructions' were Alias Wave-
front Maya 4.5 for character modelling and ani-
mation, and the Syflex plugin for cloth animation.
Shown in an immersive cinema the animations
were played by custom proprietary software writ-
ten in C++ and DirectX. The networking pro-
grams that connect the screen with an interactive
carpet of light were also based on C++ and used
the RPC communication protocol. Besides the
immersive cinema, other IT-based features of the
exhibition included an interactive table that func-
tioned as a multimedia exhibition catalogue and
novel wearable audio/video guides.
For detailed, richly illustrated descriptions, see
Flavia Sparacino, "La scena di Puccini" (2003),
SetDesigner.pdf, and "Scenographies of the
Past and Museums of the Future: From the
Wunderkammer to Body-Driven Interactive
Narrative Spaces" (October 2004),
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