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Section 3: Virtual Reality Methods and Techniques#

3.2 Good Practices for creating virtual reality #

3.2.1 Why use virtual reality?

Perhaps the first phase in a successful virtual reality project is deciding whether it is in fact the correct solution to your requirements. Why are you choosing virtual reality? 'Because it is there' may not be a good enough reason. For instance, in archaeological reconstruction, the use of virtual reality might be inappropriate if it misleads, suggests a certainty that does not exist or if it inhibits reinterpretation by suggesting that a reconstruction is carved in stone. Virtual reality may not be suitable if the target audience does not have access to the technology needed to view it or lacks the computer skills necessary to manipulate the model. Always consider the return that will be gained from the use of virtual reality. If the return is not significantly higher than that gained from using traditional techniques then the extra investment needed to create VR may not be worthwhile. In saying this, a well-planned, well-documented and well-executed VR world can impart complex three-dimensional information much more successfully than traditional media.

Virtual reality as a solution should be considered only if its use will assist in your objectives efficiently and in a manner which is superior to other technologies. Having chosen to use virtual reality, creating a successful world requires a systematic approach.

3.2.2 Project definition

Like any other media project, you need to begin by preparing a storyboard or a good description of the world that you want to create. This will outline on paper your ideas for the world, the features that it will contain and the type of interaction that it will offer to users. In addition to the storyboard you also need to prepare:

  • An analysis of user requirements
  • A definition of the objects, textures, animations and sounds that will make up the world
  • Documentation for the design of the model and how it works within the chosen system
  • A definition of the platforms which your world will run on
  • A test and maintenance schedule, including usability testing
  • A projection of the anticipated life span of the virtual reality model.

For an example of a project brief, see the Case Study Library for Narrative Rooms' description of the process that they went through in preparing the on-line exhibition 'Brancusi's Mademoiselle Pogany' for Philadelphia Museums.

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