3D MODELLING AND VISUALISATION

We explore the use of 3D reconstruction and visualisation for generating, presenting and curating new types of research which can be driven by the visual and the social.

A 3D reconstruction and visualisation is a digital object or environment which simulates aspects of the real world in three dimensions. They are typically made accessible to the end user as simple 3D objects within a web browser, 3D virtual worlds within a 3D viewer or augmented reality using a mobile device.

The advantages of 3D reconstruction and visualisation to arts and humanities research include:

  • Exploring objects and locations spatially, which is perhaps not possible with the real objects and locations (eg. sensitive archaeological sites).
  • Social environments for the exchange of research ideas, possibly prompted by the presence of 3D objects and locations.
  • New types of interfaces for accessing existing digital content services such as virtual museums, journals and digital art.
  • An evolving simulation of some aspect of the real world, such as a virtual reconstruction of a historic monument which can change and adapt in response to new information gained from an archaeological dig.
  • Exploring how digital representations of 3D objects can interact with other types of digital data in order to improve one’s knowledge of the object, such as the ability to combine a 3D model of a jug with all the other information that is known about it (textual, visual, aural).
  • Understanding how physical spaces are used through simulation and the visualisation of processes, such as how soldiers moved around in a First World War trench system.

3D virtual worlds are usually populated by multiple users who take the form of ‘avatars’ – virtual individuals – although sometimes the world can be experienced by the single user only, in a manner similar to traditional computer games. Perhaps the most publicised 3D virtual world to date is Second Life.

Augmented reality techniques enable us to overlay digital data – whether 3D or 2D – onto the user’s view of the real world via a device such as a smart phone or tablet. For example, a user might be able to explore the streets of a city and have buildings overlaid with historic photographs or enter a historic home and see virtual scenes enacted via their device.