LOW-COST DEVELOPMENT OF AN INTERACTIVE, IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE OF THE HISTORIC CITY MODEL STADE 1620
As virtual reality and 3D documentation and modelling technologies become increasingly powerful and affordable tools for architecture, planning, and cultural heritage preservation and communication, it has become increasingly important to develop low-cost methodologies for the creation of 3D immersive virtual environments and interactive experiences. Doing so makes this technology more viable for institutions such as museums and other cultural institutions, who often work within strict budgets. In this paper, we describe a workflow used to build an interactive, immersive virtual reality experience around a virtual city model of the town of Stade (Germany) in the year 1620. This virtual city model is based on a physical 3D model of the town, exhibited in the Stade town hall. The workflow begins with the digitization of this model using digital photogrammetry, followed by the subsequent low- and high-polygon modelling of the individual architectural assets in Autodesk Maya, texture mapping in Substance Painter and finally visualisation within Unreal Engine 4. The results of this workflow are a detailed 3D historical environment with a high degree of realism and in which interactivity can easily be added. In addition, the workflow takes a highly iterative approach that allows the performance of the virtual environments in the game engine to be monitored at each stage of the process, and that allows adjustments to be made quickly. To increase the potential of the virtual environment as a tool for education and communication, interactive elements and simple game mechanics are currently being integrated.