Using Animation and Interactive Virtual Technology to Create Interpretive Materials for Museum Learning and Promotion

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Educators Paper

Museums around the world have incorporated computer graphics, virtual reality, 2D and 3D animation, and interactive technology in gallery exhibits, educational games, films, and online presentations for many years. To move beyond the traditional ways of using technology to create interpretive materials for teaching and learning, and to communicate with its audiences, The National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taiwan embarked on two major digital projects: a 3D Virtual Exhibition System: Experience the Imperial Artifacts and "Adventures in the NPM," a 13-minute 3D animation. This paper provides an overview of these projects.

In early 2003, NPM began to develop Experience the Imperial Artifacts. Through this system, users can virtually touch and interact with the famous Jadeite Cabbage, Ivory Ball, Carved Olive-Stone Boat, and Mao-Kung Ting from the museum collection. For the first time, users could experience the highest privileges of the emperor. The paper provides detailed information on development, selection, creation, and implementation of various 3D technologies: the stereoscopic construction approach to visualising details, 2D photo stitching techniques for reconstructing a jadeite surface, a 3D laser-scanning method for geometric modelling, etc. It also reviews the tasks and challenges of the project and presents a documentary film about the development process of these high-tech systems.

In 2005, to bridge the gap between today's audiences and "ancient" artifacts, NPM collaborated with Digimax Corporation to produce a 3D animated film entitled "Adventures in the NPM." This film personifies some of the NPM's key collection objects and their adventures in the museum at night. Its lovely characters and captivating story are designed to bring viewers to a new level of appreciation for those ancient artifacts. The production team invited Gérard Pirès ("Knights in the Sky"), Tom Sito ("Osmosis Jones"), and Teddy Yang ("Shark Tale") to contribute their expertise to the production. The film premiered on 13 April 2007 to many positive reviews. Most recently, it was honored at the Tokyo International Animation Fair 2008 as the Animation of the Year. This paper shares some of the behind-the-scene stories of the production and its creative marketing and promotion.

James Quo-Ping Lin
National Palace Museum

Herminia Din
University of Alaska Anchorage