The organization and implementation of the workshop was a learning experience for our PURE3D project team as well. The Voyager system itself, as a rich and complex tool, was at times challenging to fully utilize and there were sometimes bugs that we discovered. Thankfully, the Voyager development team at the Smithsonian DPO offered us a great deal of support and help in responding to emails and Github issues.
Beyond technical challenges, we encountered a range of conceptual issues, each unique to individual 3D models, projects and goals. One of the major challenges for participants was to determine what kind of content would be: 1. sufficient to create a detailed and robust narrative; and 2. relevant for the 3D model being presented.Based on the diversity of pilot projects, we discovered that single digitized objects presented the challenge of not always having enough to say using only the materiality of the object while the reconstructed buildings perhaps had so much it became overwhelming on where to begin.
For the case of single objects within a larger collection we found that narratives just on the physical material properties of the object itself were not suitable for a rich 3D narrative. It was suggested that an overarching theme connect and contextualize the individual objects and that each object would be used as an occasion to speak to a certain topic within that theme. For example, with our participants at the Nederlands Mine Museum, the overarching theme for the mining lamps was the technological evolution of the lamps as a way to frame and contextualize the history of coal mining. This approach reveals how mining lamp innovation is an integral part of the larger story linked to the lives of miners. For example, advancements in lamp technology with brighter light or fuel changes from oil to petrol to battery made working in the coal mine easier and safer over time.
For 3D projects of reconstructed buildings, we found that the greatest challenge was discovering how to deal with an overabundance of information. Heritage buildings are rich sources of stories, you could discuss, for example, the architectural history and features of a building, the function of the building and its known occupants or the evidence that was used in the process of creating that 3D reconstruction. We found that the Voyager capabilities of multiple guided tours helps to segment these various topics of 3D reconstruction. Additionally, the Voyager feature of tagging annotations was found to be very useful in segmenting annotations into topical groups so that a user isn’t overwhelmed with annotation labels overcrowding the 3D scene.
The final challenge we encountered in these training workshops was the importance of keeping the 3D model central to the story being told. Within Voyager, this meant that the tour should be balanced out with camera movements around the 3D object or scene as well as content-rich articles and/or pop-up annotations. In some cases, this was not an easy task to accomplish because oftentimes the content of the article doesn’t speak directly to a location or vantage point on the 3D model. We found that this was OK in small doses as long as the entire presentation wasn’t just a Powerpoint-like slideshow overlaying the 3D model in the background. In Voyager Story, you can set articles as either a pop–up overlay or you can offset it to either side of the viewing space. Many participants chose to set articles to the right so that 3D interaction and detailed annotation could occur simultaneously.