Antarctic 360º Video, VR, Panoramas and Photogrammetry
With recent developments in 360º video and VR, it is now possible for me to revisit a great range of material I have accumulated over the last 15 years of Antarctic-related visualisation research: these range from work I have done with Frank Hurley’s stereoscopic glass plates (which I commenced in 1999 – last century!), through extensive stereoscopic video and stereoscopic 360º panoramic images I shot in Antarctica during 2005-6, 2007-8 and 2009-10 expeditions.
Even by todays standards much of the material is of very high resolution (eg. 10,000 x 20,000 pixel panoramas) or at least adequate for computer-based scene reconstruction and texturing for VR purposes. Naturally, I would very much like to return to Antarctica with new high-resolution gear and all the knowledge and techniques I have now developed – this would lead on to some extraordinary new work that I can see in my mind’s eye.
Here’s a brief first demonstration – an excerpt of 360º video I shot inside Mawson’s Huts at Cape Denison in Summer 2007-8 (nearly 10 years ago!), using a LadyBug 2 camera, generously loaned to me by Volker Kuchelmeister from NIEA, UNSW. I had previously used such a camera shooting some material with Paul Bourke, so was familiar with its operation and limitations – not the most stable system, especially considering I had to run it using a petrol generator, which kept melting its way through the ice and tilting over – so that the fuel cut off and the whole system would obviously crash, losing all captured data. It was very frustrating – but I captured enough to now start making a small documentary about the Huts – and to demonstrate how much remarkable progress has been made in their preservation over the years (thanks to the efforts of the Mawson’s Hut Foundation and its expeditioners).
Here it is (it needs Google Chrome for Desktop viewing, or a recent iOS/Android device):
It’s just a first test – much to be done (not least eliminating my wonky nadir logo via some CG magic!) – especially with reconstructing the ambisonic sound environment. I did a lot of audio recording while I was there, so I feel confident of creating a compelling, immersive ambisonic environment for VR – which imparts a genuinely compelling sense of immersion (though it requires headphones).
The original source footage is much higher resolution – 3500 x 1750px – this has been significantly compressed for online delivery.
Anyway – this is an excerpt of a discussion I had with Anne McConnell (Archaeologist) and Michelle Berry (Materials Conservator) of the processes they undertook inside the Huts. There is quite a bit more to this that I am working on – as I work out the appropriate workflow for on-line delivery and through VR headsets – all good fun. More soonish.