ABOUT

DEV 3D

In an increasingly digital world, many smaller historic and cultural sites are finding themselves falling behind or failing to meet their constituents with the digital language and experiences they’ve come to expect. For these cultural spaces, budgeting and small staff size often leave them without access or knowledge of the digital tools that can enhance the extent of their exhibits and interpreters. Digital technologies, such as 3D modeling of historic spaces and artifacts, seem like a technology too far out of reach to attempt. Downtown Boston, MA, is brimming with historic sites and artifacts, but many of them remain inaccessible for a litany of reasons. 3D Modeling and digitization of spaces and artifacts allow greater accessibility to these spaces and artifacts that may lie behind geographical, financial, and physical barriers. This project utilizes the 18th Century tombs located beneath The King's Chapel as a case study for exploring the role of these new technologies within exhibits and interpretive themes.

 

With a theoretical foundation nested in Yi-Fu Tuan’s Space and Place: Humanistic Perspective and 3D modeling and Public History theory, Dev 3D hopes to provide early blueprints and case studies for creating and implementing 3D models in a variety of ways within a historic/cultural space. Within this prototype toolkit you will find a list of software, tools, and methods for constructing simple 3D artifacts that can be used to create 3D printed models, Augmented Reality apps, or digital exhibits.

Theory &

Method

Historic and Cultural institutions are very much in the business of creating relationships between the guests that visit and the landscape they move through. As a result, it’s important for these institutions to understand how their guests are building, or failing to build, relationships with the space and artifacts that exist within them. As new technologies like AR and 3D modeling become more accessible, they will begin to find their way into institutional spaces, and the staff running them should begin to familiarize themselves with the theory that drives their business and work. For this project, we look to Yi-Fu Tuan, a geographer and theorists, as a heavy influence because of his humanists approach and examination as human experience as sculptor. According to Tuan’s theory of Space and Place, people’s connections to the literal and figurative  landscapes they encounter shifts the dynamic from larger spaces to more focused place. Daniel H. Olsen in Material Culture does an excellent job summarizing Tuan’s theory: “ by moving through and responding to familiar and unfamiliar spaces and stimuli, thereby gaining experience, human beings begin to arrange their world into places that are structured meaningfully and spaces that are unstructured and hold little meaning.”- Olsen, Daniel H. Material Culture 38.

Tools and Software

  • SketchUp: Formally known as Google Sketchup, SketchUp is modeling software for capable of creating models for a wide variety of projects including architecture, game design, mechanical engineering, and more. A free version of the tool is available for personal use through an online window, but in order to download the software, users much purchase an access code. As a 3D modeling tool, it is relatively easy to navigate and build in compared to its competitors, and combined with a warehouse of pre-constructed models and shapes, with a little creativity anyone can produce quality models.

  • Sketchfab: Sketchfab is a free to use online program that allows its users to upload 3D models for exploration and production as VR and Digital experiences, as well as prepping .stl files for 3D printing. Users may purchase a license for the full software, but the free version will accomplish all of the goals you'll need to meet for your historic site. 

  • (For more advanced modeling) Unity 3D: Unity 3D is a video game development platform that is available for free to personal users and students. Primarily used to create 2D and 3D videos games, half of the world’s games, in fact, are made using Unity 3D) it can also be used to create applications in AR, VR, 2D, and 3D across a variety of industries. For Dev 3D, Unity 3D is used in conjunction with Vuforia to create the Augmented Reality component of the project.

  • (For more advanced modeling) Vuforia: Vuforia is a plugin for Unity 3D that allows users to create Augmented Reality applications by providing the proper coding, camera angles, and real-world feedback required of an AR app. As a free plug-in, all users need to do is upload their “trigger” image and vuforia will pop out a unique code associated with that image. Once that code has been entered into the Unity 3D platform, the application has then been taught to perform some kind of action whenever it sees that trigger.

  • Form Labs/ Form 2 Gel Printer: Form Labs has made huge strides in the realm of 3D printing, and their gel printers are no exception. For the 3D printed models of the project, the Form 2 was available through Snell library and was the only printer available at the time. However, gel provided to a very smooth and robust material, but the printer’s small size limited the size of the print. For this project, bigger is better, so I will be re-doing the prints using larger plastic-based printers. The Form 2 was a great introduction into the issues that may pop up, such as wall thickness, material, and consistency of prints.

Project Progression & Timeline

Semester 1

Spring

2018

During this first semester, I began exploring the theory and methodology behind constructing a Augmented Reality project, but I lacked any structured direction. Coming from undergrad with a deep interest in AR and 3D modeling, I knew that the core of my project would encompass both of these technologies. It wasn’t until I began working as an educator at King’s Chapel that I finally focused on the space and artifacts I would use to explore these ideas of digital space. The initial project aimed at overlaying a re-constructed version of the original, wooden, chapel from 1688 over the current building  floor plan, in order to show the changes made to the site to guests. An AR app would then be used by educators, in conjunction with a print out of the floorplan, to allow guests to explore the architectural and structural changes made. While this ultimately would fall away from the main project as my focus shifted and strengthened, it proved to me that creating an AR is possible even without prior knowledge of how to do so. By exploring this route during the first semester I unknowingly was constructing the foundation for what would later develop into the Dev 3D, easily understandable, toolkit.

 

  1. Explore similar projects at historic sites/institutions. By exploring what other historic sites and institutions are using AR and 3D models for would help me determine what materials would best be suited for the variety of audiences at play. What are educators and historians looking to convey through 3D, and what are public audiences hoping to get out.

  2. Read through theory and Methodology. In conjunction with Cameron Blevin’s Space and Place course, I began to explore the various theorists and their understandings of how people interact with the space around them. Since AR by definition arguments or manipulates the real world, I hoped that understanding the theory behind how it does so would strengthen my case of 3D modeling and AR to be valid exhibit and research tools.

  3. Research. As with any good history project, research was needed to validate the measurements and arguments I was attempting to make. This ment working with King’s Chapel educators and spending time within the archives to collect the appropriate materials.

  4. Realization. I realized by the end of the semester that modeling the entire church would prove too-great a challenge given my novice approach to 3D modeling and Sketchup. With that in mind, the project began to shift towards a more toolkit approach. What if I didn’t know how to do any of this, what if I we’re starting from scratch with a budget of $0, could I still be able to construct something?

Semester 2

Fall

2018

The second semester saw a shift in the project direction; no longer was my goal to construct one model, but now the goal was to create a path that others could follow, with similar and usable results. Through my own experiences as an educator at King’s Chapel, it became clear that guests were less interested in the structural changes made to the building, and more interested in the spaces that were inaccessible, either through their physical location or because guests didn’t/couldn't pay for the tour tickets to reach them. It was at this point that the project shifted to focusing on constructing a toolkit around the tombs located beneath the building.

  1. Shift focus to crypt. Beneath the building exists an 18th century crypt with 21 vaulted tombs and a combined total of approximately 150 remains. Many guests leave the building not even realizing the space beneath them, and those that do know about it must pay for the tour in order to see it. So here we have a problem with a 3D solution.

  2. Begin work on the 3D Model. After spending some time in the crypt,measurements were taken and then used to reconstruct the space within Sketchup.

  3. Begin preliminary work on a 3D printed model of the tomb. Research what type of materials and printers are best suited to complete the job.

  4. Yes, a toolkit is the way to go. This semester was spent on exploring if a toolkit or series of case studies made the most sense for my project. After discussing it with co-workers and faculty, it was decided that an exploration of the ways 3D models can exist within historic spaces would offer the best variety for other institutions to use.

Semester 3

Spring

2019

This final semester has seen the most hands-on growth of the project thus far. After completing the 3D model of the tomb during the second semester, it was now time to play with it and explore its potential. I placed several orders through the NU 3D print labs, and received multiple physical copies of the tomb, testing out wall thickness and material construction. Additionally, this semester saw the development of the AR component educators can use during tours that will allow users to view the interior of the bricked up spaces. Finally, with the help of Kenneth Thompson from the university of Connecticut, we explored how 3D scanning can recreate entire spaces and artifacts with incredible detail, all with equipment that is easily accessible and usable.

 

  1. Order 3D prints of the tomb. At the time, NU’s 3D print lab was only able to use it’s Form-2, Form Labs gel printers, since the other ones were out of order. This limited the size of the model to a fraction of what I am hoping to achieve. The goal is to use one of the larger, plastic printers to create even larger versions of the mold to be used as a teaching tool within the historic space.

  2. Begin constructing the AR application. Unity and Vuforia will be used to create the AR application. For this tool, educators need to be within the physical space to use it, and there may be long-term issues in keeping the app working that need to be explore.

  3. Begin digitizing KC with Ken. Kenneth Thompson and I will spend a day digitizing the various spaces within KC, highlight the crypt space and focusing most of our attention there. We will use photogramarty to take our images and then string them together in order to create the digital models. From there, replicas of the room can be 3D printed or exist as a digital exhibit online.

  4. Complete the toolkit documentation and website for public use.