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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
added.
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),
http://www.sensingplaces.com/papers/puccini
SetDesigner.pdf, and "Scenographies of the
Past and Museums of the Future: From the
Wunderkammer to Body-Driven Interactive
Narrative Spaces" (October 2004),
http://www.sensingplaces.com/papers/acm_
2004_sparacino.pdf
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