So, I have been playing with an augmented reality experience which documents the ancient ruins of Naples! I went for something of a "digital pop-up book" aesthetic. I used Metaio Creator paired with the Junaio smartphone application in order to create an experience which brings you into images I shot on site, and then enhances the experience with tidbits of knowledge of ancient daily life. I feel that often the overly sensationalized story of the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius clouds the understanding and empathy one my feel walking among places which once were home to thousands, and were remarkable for more than just being buried. Certainly their preservation has been a boon for modern archeologists and visitors, but it is humbling to remember that these places were much like many other cities of their time, and serve as a window through which we can feel the way fellow humans lived.
In terms of the technical aspects of the project, I wanted to take 2D photographs, and re-create the experience of depth. I created matte paintings of each image I picked, as well as extra detail images and text "fact boxes", saved out PNGs, and put 3D cards together in Maya, where I could place the layers at the proper depth and create the animation. I then brought the files into Metaio Creator which made the experience of associating the 3D files to their 2D tracking images and QR codes quick and simple. I even created the option to click for animation. I'd say one of the biggest challenges for this project was organizing the photos and files to optimize for use on a mobile device. Many of the matte painting files ended up fairly large, which is no problem for Maya to handle, but since since the Junaio application runs through the internet, searching for files which I upload onto the Metaio server, large files can slow down the application significantly or make it impossible for mobile devices to use. I had this experience with my phone initially - my files were too big and the phone just didn't have enough space to store the data at the time. So re-saving every image (multiple times) to a smaller resolution version, and bringing them through the pipeline between photoshop, Maya and Metaio Creator was something of a pain, but overall worth it. There are still a few bugs and quirks I'm figuring out, such as how to make assets of my file invisible before clicking for the animation (animating visibility in Maya does not carry over) but overall I'm pleased, since this is my first time trying an augmented reality project!
If you have a smartphone/tablet you can download Junaio as a free application and give it a whirl! There is an instructions page in the gallery. Sometimes phone cameras can be testy with computer screens, but I can usually get it to work! to note - The pages with the QR codes are meant for scanning only, the images which follow are the tracking images with the AR experience. Tap to make them animate!