Bringing this historic Welsh monument to life
Tintern abbey is a spectacular cistercian monument located in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Despite the shell of this grand structure being open to the skies, it remains the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales. Although the abbey church was rebuilt under the patronage of Roger Bigod, lord of nearby Chepstow Castle, in the late 13th century, the monastery retains its original design.
Luminous were approached by the Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales to help recreate the Abbey as it would have looked towards the end of the 18th Century in the romantic period when it inspired countless poets. To do these we decided to first carry out a detailed LiDAR scan of the site. This would allow us to replicate it stone by stone in mm accuracy.
To create the VR version of the Abbey we had to first convert the laser scan data into a 3D mesh. To do this we sectioned up the data via individual elevations. As the scans had been carried out from the ground using a Faro Focus laser scanner there were a lot of holes in the tops of the mesh. These needed to all be manually filled.
The resulting mesh was very accurate but also extremely heavy and unusable for a Games Engine environment. The next step was to retopologize each elevation into a nice low poly version. We then used the high quality mesh to create detailed textures and normal maps that could be projected back onto the low poly model retaining all the detail.
Once all the individual elements had been made games engine ready they were brought together in Unreal. Lidar and mapping data was also used so that the correct terrain for the background environment could be replicated.
A range of information points were added to the experience providing historical information to the user. These were provided in 4 different languages.
We opted to use a carousel that would pop up around the user with large information boards and images. We also developed a holographic model that was used to navigate around the site and the option to switch between day and night mode.