The State Hermitage Museum located in Saint Petersburg Russia now provides its worldwide visitors to experience its new virtual reality educational entertainment platforms. This VR experience includes 3D models of the famous exhibits—the Italian Skylight room and Jupiter room, and a 360 VR video about the history of the Hermitage Museum starting from time period of Catherine The Great. All these VR entertainments can be viewed through HTC VR headsets.
The company responsible for the recreation of the model of the Italian Skylight room was Vizerra (in collaboration with AMER company). Vizerra used 3D scans, 2D photography applied to the close-ups of surfaces and objects in the room, and computer modeling. This particular technology offers a viewer an ability to move freely around the room without dependence on designated location points. Moreover, in the simulation, the viewer has an ability to look around the room from any point of view.
The Jupiter room project was created by CROC company. This room is devoted to the sculpture exhibit of ancient Rome, and since the sculptures themselves are 3D objects it required the models be done in greater detail. Therefore, CROC used a photogrammetry technique in order to recreate each sculpture and parts of the room individually to make it appear as realistic as possible. The process required a team of photographers to capture every detail and angle of each sculpture and object in the room. Later, collected photographs were connected together through a special 3D-modeling program to form 3D models of sculptures, the room itself, as well as other objects within.
Finally, another interesting Virtual Reality project is a movie that is currently offered on site of the State Hermitage Museum in the General Staff building. The movie, “Hermitage. A Virtual Travel Through Time and Space,” was directed by Mikhail Antkov, financed by partners of the Hermitage Museum, and produced by Super8 studio and Videofabrica company.
The movie is created in 360 video VR technology. The viewer is placed in the illusion of becoming a participant of the events that are shown in the movie. A guide named Mystic, who has the power to travel through time and space, inhabites a famous Russian actor—Konstantine Habensky. In the plot, the viewer travels through the main events occurred in Hermitage starting from the time period of Catherine The Great. All events take place in different rooms and locations within the museum, which includes the famous Hanging Garden, the roof of the Winter Palace, and a Palace Square. During the adventure, the viewer is introduced to the current director of the Hermitage Museum—Mikhail B. Piotrovsky.
This could be helpful in the TA4 of the ViMM project, because it is a great innovation of Virtual Reality usage in a museum. These projects are very innovative as they contain elements from all three important fields of Virtual Museums, which are storytelling, presence and gamification. Specifically, the ability that a viewer has to make a description window appear when he or she presses an ID icon, containing details about the specific exhibit or the audio guides that are offered (in a similar way, by pressing the appropriate icon button) belongs to the storytelling field. Also, the fact that these projects are based on Virtual Reality provides full immersion to the viewers, enhancing that way the feeling of presence. There are other elements that enhance the feeling of presence such as the ability to move inside the virtual museum and explore it from every point of view, the ability of the viewer to turn the lights on and of etc. . Finally, the ability to explore freely the virtual museums is an important part of the gamification field, as it makes the virtual tour more interesting and fun for the viewers.