Figure 3. Voyager Scene Document, an example of a 3D file format that allows storing metadata and linking to paradata (https://smithsonian.github.io/dpo-voyager/document/overview/).
Another approach would be to take the example from GIS file types like a shapefile, which is represented by a related set of files: one containing the geometries, another the georeferencing and another an attribute table which is expandable to any number of fields with various datatypes (text, dates, numbers, etc.). One of the strengths of this system is that the possibilities are endless in connecting attribute table fields to data in external databases, which is one way to create large, linked datasets. Being able to edit attribute table data inside 3D graphics programs, and exporting the attribute table alongside the 3D models would solve much of the meta- and paradata authoring and publishing issues. Although ESRI’s 3D shapefile meets these requirements, the problem is that no 3D graphics programs support it, and the vertex modelling and texturing tools of ArcScene are too limited.
If we want to encourage academics and others to publish 3D models including source references, data and other documentation, a system should be created that decreases the amount of effort needed to prepare the project files such as source data and paradata documents. Without a framework that facilitates this, the threshold will remain too high. Since a lot of the work creating paradata occurs during modelling, we should start to think of an ecosystem that integrates the graphics programs with source data organisation and a publication platform. In this blog post, I proposed that one solution is to work towards a 3D information system with a custom file format for historical or archaeological 3D models that can also store the required metadata. Additionally, we must improve the integration of 3D graphics programs with GIS, for instance by sharing a database of models, paradata and linked data. This would be a significant optimization of the workflow, allowing more researchers to exhaustively publish their models, thereby improving the transparency of their products.
Bentkowska-Kafel, A., Denard, H., & Baker, D. (2012). Paradata and transparency in virtual heritage. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate.
Hermon, S., Nikodem, J. (2008). 3D Modelling as a Scientific Research Tool in Archaeology, in: Posluschny, A., K. Lambers and I. Herzog (eds.), Layers of Perception. Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA), Berlin, Germany, April 2–6, 2007 (Kolloquien zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Vol. 10). Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH, Bonn, pp. 140 + CD-ROM.
Waagen, J., Lanjouw, T. (2021): 4DRL Report Series. University of Amsterdam / Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Collection. https://doi.org/10.21942/uva.c.5503110.v1
Schrijver, G. (2019). PostBlender: een bi-directionele koppeling tussen een GIS database en Blender. Unpublished BA-thesis, University of Amsterdam.