Rome in 3D

History in 3D lives up to its name. The virtual recreations of ancient temples, cities, palaces and fortresses are vividly rendered in granular detail with realistic lighting effects and animated fly-ins. They’ve built models of everything from Sevastopol in 1914 to the flooding of Titanic’s grand staircase to Corinth in the 2nd century.

Four years ago, their most ambitious project, a reconstruction of Rome’s city center as it was in 320 A.D. Rome in 3D, made its debut on their YouTube channel. They had already been working on it for years and had enough of it ready to make a riveting trailer, a few tantalizing minutes of what promised to be the most comprehensive virtual recreation of ancient Rome ever made. The aim was to integrate it into a game engine, building a fully realized city based on the latest, most accurate information to provide an immersive experience of walking its streets.

At the time of the trailer’s debut in March 2016, the project was scheduled to be completed in a few months. In June, a second trailer with new buildings (mainly the Capitoline temples), debuted.

Almost two years passed before the next trailer, a walk-through of the Colosseum, was posted.

The entire ancient city of Rome, it seems, proved to a very, VERY big bite, and while History in 3D was determined to chew it, the jaws would have to grind for much longer than expected. In the meantime, they released pieces of the whole to give a glimpse into their work. Trajan’s column in all its original polychrome glory is a straight masterpiece. Even setting aside that it’s only part of an infinitely greater whole, on its own it represents years of research and modelling.

Last month, History in 3D released their latest Rome in 3D video. They assured followers that the project was still ongoing, that they had encountered challenges and obstacles but were surmounting them and coming back better than ever, deploying new technological tools to redesign buildings and objects. The new trailer showcases the Forum, the beating heart of Roman society, and it is a huge leap forward in quality.  (This blog entry describes what you’re seeing as you stroll/fly through downtown Rome.)

There’s no specific timeline for the completion of the project, but fingers crossed, they expect a walk-through app will be ready for release in a few months. Trajan’s Column will get an app of its own so it can be explored scene by scene in all its spiral glory. This is something I have dreamed about, because it’s shocking to me that there is basically no high-resolution photography online detailing Trajan’s Column whose reliefs are so densely populated and complex that naked-eye view can never satisfy.

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