Mawson’s Huts VR Project
360º Stereoscopic Views of Mawson’s Huts (photogrammetric + 3D model reconstructions).
You can view them on your computer or iOS/Android device (fullscreen if you use the little widgets on the bottom right of the panorama) and in glorious stereoscopic 3D if you have a Google-Cardboard-compatible viewer (available via Amazon here). I test on a Wearality Sky and VR Box – you can pick one up for around $20.
View from the centre of the Main Living Hut: Before you lies the kitchen, on either side are sleeping bunks. On the left is Frank Hurley’s Darkroom. The doorway in front goes through to the Workshop.
Mawson’s Room: Mawson’s icy cubicle, stereoscopic 360º photogrammetric reconstruction + 3D modelling.
View to ‘Hyde Park Corner‘: the south-east bunks occupied by Ninnis and Merz.
I’ll post a few more as things develop: there is a lot of work to do to bring these up to scratch.
Much of the visualisation work has been undertaken during my personal VR/Fulldome project regarding the Cape Denison Historic Site: ‘East of Antarctica‘, which in turn is based upon many years of visualising the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition for fulldome and stereoscopic presentation. The buildings and artefacts are reconstructed by a mixture of 3D computer modelling (based on Adrian Welke‘s CAD model and architectural/building notes by Pete McCabe) and photogrammetric modelling derived from a variety of sources – mainly photos I took myself during 2007-8 and 2009-10, with additional material from Sally Hildred (2015), Dave Killick (2005) and others. They’re currently as accurate as is possible – given that the photos were not originally taken with photogrammetry in mind – pending any forthcoming expeditions there, where I would hopefully undertake a professional photogrammetric survey, using proper techniques and equipment.
The VR app will initially show in the Mawson’s Huts Foundation travelling bus (details TBA) and at the Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum.
At this stage it will probably be displayed as a pre-rendered stereoscopic 360º video and interactive panoramas, as there is such an enormous amount of work to do (and virtually no budget to speak of) to get it into fully 3D interactive mode in Unity or Unreal Engine. Progress on a fully immersive VR prototype for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive has been more rapid than I anticipated, so I’m focussing on this first, before a mobile app. Once this is achieved, it will open up the possibilities of proper narrative development and release for various platforms and app stores (eg. Oculus Rift, Jump, Vive, Gear, Steam etc.) Quite a big project: it is a dream of mine simply to be able to work full-time on it for a year, but dreams won’t pay the bills at this stage. Maybe I should try KickStarter or Patreon.
The interesting thing that arises from developing this is to begin to see how many stories can unfold from this type of visualisation: a kind of Antarctic ‘Gothic’ atmosphere, replete with a deep and enigmatic history – that also happens to be one of the great science and adventure stories from the Heroic Era of Antarctic exploration. An appealing idea is to enable multiple ways of experiencing ‘place’ – ranging from the evocative sense of presence, of ‘being there’, the sense of time and the finitude of human experience within the magnitude of the Antarctic, and being able to explore this oneself – to a more conventional documentary approach composed of narrative soundscapes that can act as a guide.