Many UK museums are developing their expertise in the creation of 3D images of objects in their collection. Traditionally museums, galleries and libraries have used traditional 2D images to aid them in their collections management, conservation and research and public access to their collections. The opportunity of 3D imaging can make all of these areas of museum activity a much richer experience.
UK museums have always been active in their support for the UK creative industries mainly through their picture libraries. Images from UK collections can be seen on a daily basis in fine art publications, general media as well as on film and television. With the development of computer graphics in film and TV, computer games, and ubiquitous multimedia on the web, the availability of 3D images of cultural objects will be of significance for this market.
The ICON project developed a content exchange mechanism, through which 3D digitised design artefacts could be made available for reuse by the digital media industries. High-quality digitised 3D models and textures are required for use in film and television post production, games development, architectural visualisation and, most recently, furnishing virtual business premises within VR worlds like Second Life. Traditionally these models and textures have been created from scratch by digital artists as required, but this is a costly and time-consuming process. The task of just researching the source designs takes a significant amount of effort before modelling can even begin.
ICON allowed for pre-digitised furniture, decorative objects, fashion, fabric designs and wallpaper patterns to be made available for the dressing of virtual sets and clothing avatars amongst many other uses. Users of ICON content benefit from easy access to pre-built high-quality authentic period and contemporary digital models. For design rights holders, ICON provided new promotional channels from pre-digitised designs. The project addressed the technical challenges that must be overcome in order for this vision to be realised.
ICON was a collaborative R&D project involving the Evolutions Television, Smoke and Mirrors, System Simulation, the V&A and IT Innovation. ICON received research funding from the UK Technology Programme.