Cutting Edge Virtual Reality Technology Brings Captain Scotts Ship Discovery to Life in 3D

Press Conference: 11am, 25 September 2014 at Discovery Point, Dundee

Ben Bennett from Digital Surveys will unveil and demonstrate a prototype 3D Virtual Reality tour of the magnificent mahogany-panelled wardroom of RRS Discovery.

Computer stations will be set up within the Discovery Point building for journalists to try on the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headsets.

Mark Munsie, Operations Director and Gill Poulter, Heritage Director, both of Dundee Heritage Trust, will also be present to be interviewed.

N.B. The results of the survey in terms of stunning still imagery and animations will be made available for media use. A couple of examples are attached but more are available.

2014 is set to be the year that Virtual Reality goes mainstream with the Oculus Rift headset becoming the most hyped technology development of the decade. Not just for ‘gamers’, this device will open up entire new markets where users can be immersed in a realistic 3D environment. From healthcare to tourism to heritage, 3D is set to be the next big thing.

To capitalise on this demand for new 3D content and to gain even more value from the recent 3D laser survey of the Discovery, Digital Surveys and Dundee Heritage Trust have begun to create the most realistic 3D virtual tour App of an historic vessel in the world.

By using 3D laser scan data, high dynamic range photography and the latest games engine technology, Digital Surveys have developed a hyper realistic 3D version of the ship. This prototype allows users, by putting on the headset, to explore the wardroom, sit at the table or even peek in Shackletons sleeping quarters. Future possibilities include walking the decks or even climbing the rigging.

Mark Munsie, Operations Director from DHT said The primary aim of the laser scanning project was to provide a detailed and highly accurate record of Discoverys internal and external structure and her current state of repair to produce base line information for future conservation planning. It has indeed provided this invaluable information but the results in terms of photo-realistic models and animations have amazed and excited us all about the interpretation and public access possibilities. Now we also have cutting edge Virtual Reality technology coming to Captain Scotts historic ship which is incredible. The prospect of people at home all over the world being able to explore the ship in 3D is very exciting. It also opens up the visit experience to people with disabilities who would otherwise be unable to climb up to the bridge or go below decks.

The total project costs to date were funded through the Scottish Governments Recognition Fund, awarded by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS).

Joanne Orr, Chief Executive of MGS, said that the Recognition Scheme ensures that Scotlands most important collections are identified, cared for, protected and promoted, and MGS were delighted to award funding for this project. Bringing Captain Scotts ship directly to people in their own front rooms and offices around the world is a fantastic achievement, and Dundee Heritage Trust is reinforcing the citys status as the technology capital of Scotland with this innovative project.

Joanne continued, Dundee is undergoing huge redevelopment, and the RRS Discovery and her associated Polar Collection will no doubt play a significant part in drawing in the crowds to this rejuvenated city.

Ben Bennett, Chief Technology Officer from Digital Surveys added Digital Surveys are so delighted to be working with such prestigious heritage that we wanted to take the results to the next level. No other historic ship has used 3D technology to this extent so we really are breaking new ground with this project.

Funding of 50,000 is being sought to develop the Virtual Reality tour to cover more of the ship. There will also be tablet and mobile device App versions for those that don’t have an Oculus Rift headset. The Trust is also looking into the possibility of building a VR station within the museum to allow disabled visitors to use the technology to explore the ship. Dundee Heritage Trust is now investigating possible grant sources or even crowd funding for these exciting future developments.

For further information please contact Kim Adamson, Marketing Officer on

01382 309060, e: or Gill Poulter, Director of Museums and Exhibitions e:

Notes to Editors:

– Dundee Heritage Trust and its operating company Dundee Industrial Heritage Ltd are both registered charities formed in 1985 to preserve and interpret Dundees industrial past. The Trust is responsible for the internationally important RRS Discovery, which was built in the city for Captain Scotts 1901 British National Antarctic Expedition, and the associated polar collections which are a Recognised Collection of National Significance.

– Digital Surveys was formed in 1988 and has evolved over the last 25 years from a traditional surveying company into a cutting edge 3D laser scanning bureau. Based out of Newcastle they have provided laser scanning on projects across the UK and Europe. They have worked on a wide range of heritage and commercial projects, scanning and reverse engineering everything from castles to cars to boats, trains and planes.

– The 3D laser scanning of the RRS Discovery took place over the winter and spring of 2013-2014. All the scans were carried out in full colour and a point cloud of billions of point created. The laser scan data was then registered together to create a full 3D dataset. Digital Surveys team of modellers then painstakingly traced around this data to create a very accurate survey grade 3D model. Using HDR imagery collected during the scanning process, texture maps were created and mapped onto the model to create photo realistic renders.

The total results of the 3D laser scanning are:-

Eight 2D CAD plans of the ship along with a very dense meshed model of the vessel to show wear and tear on the external hull of the vessel.

A gallery of 3D renders of the ship internally and externally.

A 3D animation that allows people to spin the ship 360 degrees.

A virtual tour of the ships external areas. This virtual tour was produced using a 360 degree HDR panoramic camera. It operates in the same way as Google Streetview, using arrows to allow people to walk through and explore the deck of the ship and the surrounding quayside.

A HD quality 3D animation was edited together showing the different stages of the survey process from point cloud to photorealistic model.

A showreel featuring the highlight results in terms of the images and animations was produced for display on a large plasma screen within the museum galleries at Discovery Point.

A data package that will allow 3D printing of a ship model of Discovery

– Virtual reality (VR) is a form of technology which creates computer generated worlds or immersive environments which people can explore and in many cases, interact with. The development of the Oculus Rift head set, originally crowd funded by raising 2.5 million on Kick-starter and subsequently purchased by Facebook for a staggering 2 billion, has introduced VR to the masses. Over 100,000 developer units have been sold worldwide and a consumer release is scheduled for the end of the year.