Monday, October 13, 2008

Virtual Forbidden City

IBM and Palace Museum announce the opening of the Forbidden City Virtual World celebrating 600 years of Chinese culture (see here). The Virtual Forbidden City website says:

The Virtual Forbidden City is a 3-dimensional virtual world where visitors from around the world can experience the Forbidden City in Beijing. You can explore the magnificient palace as it was during the Qing dynasty, which ruled from 1644 until 1912, the end of the Imperial period in China.

The image above shows a location that I "photographed" on my first visit to the Virtual Forbidden City. There is much more than can be seen in this single photograph.

This is not a fully featured virtual world (e.g. Second Life), but it is good enough for visiting and familiarising yourself with the Forbidden City. This virtual reconstruction of the Forbidden City has been done quite carefully. The in-world objects have been "painted" with textures that appear to have been derived from photographs of their real-world counterparts, which adds to the realism. This is quite hard work to do properly, especially for irregularly shaped objects, as I have found when creating virtual copies of real-world objects in Second Life.

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