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13 June 2017

Games Development students use virtual reality to make exhibition accessible to all

Games Development students from the Salisbury campus have used their digital-minds to produce a 3D, virtual environment of Salisbury Cathedral’s library to enable visitors with mobility impairment to immerse themselves in all of the Cathedrals history.

The Cathedral opened the medieval library’s doors, which contains more than 10,000 books dating as far back as the 9th Century, as part of the Animating the Archives project by Ageas Salisbury International Festival, a rare opportunity for visitors to climb the 37-stone step stairwell to see what is inside.

But for Sophie Amstell, Learning and Participation Manager at the local festival, it was important they were able to share this opportunity with everyone.

She said: “I would like to pass on my thanks and congratulations to the Games Development students for their fantastic work on the virtual environment project.

“The virtual environment the students have created will make this precious library resource accessible to a huge number of people who would not otherwise be able to enjoy it.

“People who cannot make it up the steps will now be able to see exactly what the library looks like and enjoy its rich history and beautiful architectural features.

“I am so pleased to have been given an insight into what the Games Development students are capable of and it has been great to provide them with a real life opportunity to use their skills for the benefit of Salisbury audiences and visitors.”

On receiving the brief, the group of eight Level 3 students visited the archives gathering photographic assets, raw pictures and information from the Cathedral’s librarian.

Project Leader, Ben Peters, 17, from Blandford said: “The library is a really interesting place with so much detail.

“We tried to include as much of that detail as possible from creating textures using the photo assets, to including the little mouse which is hidden in one of the books, to layering raw pictures onto the software so that the paintings displayed were photographs of the real thing.

“It has been a great opportunity which the whole team have learnt a lot from, with the added bonus of making something people may not be able to see otherwise.”

The game developers used a variety of digital, industry-standard software, including 3ds Max, Adobe programmes, Unreal Engine 4, Premiere Pro and OBS for the two-minute video which will be on display at the Cathedral and on their website.

Emilio Di Pietro, Lecturer in Computer Games Development, said: “Live projects provide real industry experience for students with set expectations of high quality production outcome, working to deadlines, team building and responsibility and learning new skills and techniques.

“I am very proud of the effort which was over and above expectation, with the students demonstrating a plethora of personal and work-related skills and techniques to produce this product.

“In this particular project, I definitely saw students pride in their work come through in their faces.”

Take a virtual look through the Cathedral’s library here: