Jeffrey Du VERNAY | Aurelia LUREAU | J. Bart MCLEOD | Victor Manuel LOPEZ-MENCHERO BENDICHO | Gabriel WICK
(Global Digital Heritage, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA)

Keywords: Virtual Tours, 360˚ Imagery, Cultural Heritage

The creation of virtual tours of cultural heritage sites represents an interactive and engaging way for archaeologists, local communities, and the broader public to experience archaeological sites from afar, including those with limited or restricted public access. There are many avenues that are possible for the creation of digital virtual tours that derive from various datasets including point clouds, 3D models, and 360˚ imagery. Over the past year, Global Digital Heritage (GDH) has captured over one thousand 360˚ images (as well as an extensive amount of 3D data) at cultural heritage sites located in Spain, France, and the United States for the purpose of generating virtual tours for research, education, and wider public use. This paper details our virtual tour making efforts and explores the impact that these virtual tours can have on local communities and within cultural heritage sector more generally. The paper includes a short discussion of our image capturing workflow, processing, and general mechanics of virtual tour generation. Additionally, the various types of content incorporated into our virtual tours is discussed, including 3D models, animations, videos, historical imagery and information, and other materials, and ways such additional content serves to enrich and enhance the virtual tour experience. These points will be illustrated in the paper using various virtual tour case studies created by GDH. It is concluded that virtual tours of cultural heritage sites using 360˚ imagery can be an ideal way to virtually bring people to archaeological sites because of the broader familiarity 360˚ imagery has within the general public over other types of virtual data. Additionally, it is concluded that such tours are a perfect way to integrate and present the various datasets and information collected by GDH.

Relevance for the conference: The paper is relevant to the conference because it explores the use of visual data ( i.e., 360˚ imagery) within the cultural heritage sector and beyond.
Relevance for the session: The paper is relevant to the session because of its focus cultural heritage, 360˚ imagery, and the virtual experience of archaeological sites.
Innovation: The paper’s innovative component includes broad- scale integration of various types of datasets into the virtual tour experience with a focus on local communities, general public, and researchers.
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