Mawson's Huts VR
Work-in-Progress by Peter Morse. A prototype high-fidelity VR simulation of the Mawson's Huts Historic Site at Cape Denison, Antarctica. Suitable for high-end PC and VR systems: these are unadjusted screenshots from beta v0.61-0.7.
Mawson's Huts VR Simulation is a companion piece to my forthcoming 4k Fulldome feature film 'East of Antarctica', exploring the legacy of the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition.
The Cape Denison landscape is an accurate digital elevation model (~5m) derived from satellite data, Australian Antarctic Division GIS resources and photogrammetric reconstructions from extensive aerial photography undertaken during various helicopter flights around the Cape that I made 2007-8 and 2009-10. Next steps - get the geology, meteorology and cryology right - within unclearly defined artistic constraints.
Mawson’s Huts and other heritage structures appear via faithful photogrammetric 3D reconstructions.
This work draws on extensive historical resources from Heroic-era literature and photography, including early stereoscopic glass-plate views taken by the expedition photographer, Frank Hurley (courtesy of the Mawson Collection, SA Museum). I have worked extensively on restoration of these images, which come to life in immersive VR, counterpoised with more recent stereoscopic high-definition footage and stereoscopic 10k panoramic photography.
Adelie Penguin colonies will operate as AI/AL agents with flocking behaviours, resource-gathering goals, life-death cycles etc, operating via state machines, behaviour trees and, as I progress, AI/CNN/GANS that learn from their environment and in comparison to real-world behaviours. This simulation will be interesting to compare to the behaviours of real-life colonies and individuals - currently standard game AI processes lead to all sorts of amusing and semi-realistic encounters - but penguins are much more complex, violent and aggressive than you might imagine. Certainly, they are not remotely like anthropomorphic fantasies such as ‘Happy Feet’. It’s much darker - but who knows what will happen with a sparsely trained GAN? They might all start doing Busby Berkeley musicals after a few aeons of game-time: it's an experiment.
Programming and design in the Unity3D game engine, using the excellent Procedural-Worlds assets (Gaia, GeNa, CTS etc.) and GX extensions. GIS and photogrammetric assets via custom workflows/Python. AI systems use TensorFlow (Keras) for machine learning.
The simulation is intended for both home-use (via PC/VR set-ups) as well as specialist immersive environments such as EPICylinder (UNSW) and DomeLab systems (UNSW/EPFL). If all goes well, I'll release it on Steam late 2019/20.
Created and Produced by Peter Morse
Mawson's Huts VR is produced in association with the Mawson's Huts Foundation.
Special thanks to:
Mawsons Huts Foundation
Australian Antarctic Division
Crew of L'Astrolabe