Virtual history: project recreates shipwrecks in 3D

By on 24 June, 2020

Curtin University has received a $460,000 research grant to create immersive 3D models of historic Australian shipwrecks using photogrammetry.

The project is a collaboration between Curtin’s HIVE (Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch) and Western Australian Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Associate Professor Andrew Woods, lead researcher and manager of HIVE, said that hundreds of thousands of images have already been collected with deep water, remotely-operated vehicles.

“Shipwreck sites are often the subject of considerable fascination and mystery, and Virtual Reality technologies offer huge potential to reveal the stories of these sites in a dynamic and engaging way for museum audiences,” he said.

“The sites which will be used as test datasets are some of the most historically significant Australian shipwreck sites, including HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran from World War II; and the submarine HMAS AE1 from World War I.”

The imagery from these initial sites is currently assembled into highly detailed 3D models using the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre’s Magnus supercomputer at Curtin.

The project will employ two software developers to work on the 3D modelling duties, and will provide two scholarships for PhD students on the themes of ‘Evaluating Virtual Heritage Experiences’ and ‘Improving Photogrammetric 3D Reconstruction’.

Professor Erik Champion, UNESCO Chair of Cultural Heritage and Visualisation from the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, who is a project Chief Investigator and will be a PhD supervisor for the ‘Evaluating Virtual Heritage Experiences’ topic, said the project presents outstanding learning opportunities.

“This is an exciting chance to be part of a novel project that can elevate the public experience,” he said.

“In particular, the PhD student I will supervise will help evaluate methods to engage the public with interactive media in a museum setting, and conduct workshops with museum experts and with participants to test open ended games that allow for interactive learning.”

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