VR Cycloramas
  • Cycloramas were a 19th century precursor to virtual reality. Massive paintings—often more than 100 meters long—were created to depict a scene in 360 degrees, and then mounted in a round theater so that paying audiences could be immersed in the image. The Future Museum Studio re-use this term for a research project that seeks to develop experimental platforms for viewing virtual reality content where the imagery is relatively finite (such as a single spherical VR image, or a modest set of images), and the research focus is on the creation of new ways audiences can see and interact. Like the cycloramas of the 1800s, the goal is not to invent a new technology of image creation, but instead new techniques to create engaging and immersive experiences, especially for groups and narrative.
WebVR Cyclorama: The 1871 Great Chicago Fire

    • This interactive cyclorama experience was released in October 2021, on the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. Using VR headsets or web browsers, audiences can zoom and explore gigapixel images and trigger audio narratives embedded in the image.
  • Interactive Screen VR Cyclorama: Shanghai Bund 1882, 1949, 2022

    • This virtual reality history experience of the historic Shanghai street and surrounding areas was made with the support of the Visual China Group, Urban Archeology Shanghai, Shanghai Library Archives, the Peabody Essex Museum, and ICCI’s International Association of Cultural and Creative Industry Research.   The enormous wall mounted screen displays gigapixel panoramas of the Shanghai Bund from 1882, 1949, and 2022.  Motion sensors and custom software allow groups to pan, zoom, and tilt across the historic images providing touchless group interactions with immersive content.
    • FMS continues to develop new hands-free, headset-free methods of displaying VR content for museum and gallery display.
    AI Photo Archive Mega Display

    • FMS is experimenting with methods to display massive quantities of historical photographs in a single display.  Photos are analyzed for similarities, stitched into infinite panoramas, which are algorithmically merged over time to make durational screen displays.  In this example, the Hedrich Blessing archive of architectural photography from the Chicago History Museum is used. Thousands of photographs of mid-century Chicago interiors are stitched together into a never-ending pan across an impossible room.
    Virtual History Experiences
    • Chicago00: 1915 – Augmented reality app
    Chicago00: 1915 Eastland Disaster—the opportunity was presented by a historical event in downtown Chicago (a tragic boat accident in 1915) that was extensively documented: more than 300 photographs and multiple newsreel films. The events took place on a single city block, with easy pedestrian access along the city’s new Riverwalk. To take advantage of this, an augmented reality app was created, where audiences on-site could see the historical photographs, superimposed on the site where they were taken.

    • Chicago00: 1933 – Virtual reality app
    Chicago00: 1933 World’s Fair—the 1933 fair was heavily documented and an important historical event in the city’s history.  Almost all of the buildings were demolished after the fair, and the site is now a public park and museum campus covering several miles.  Of particular interest were aerial photographs taken from the fair’s Skyride (a 191 meter tall ride across the fair).  To match the photographs, VR drone-photography was produced, matching the historical locations, and a narrated virtual reality tour of the site was published as APP, and also to the Youtube VR and Oculus distribution platforms.

    • Chicago00: 1893 – Virtual reality experience and web portal

    Chicago00: 1893 World’s Fair—the site of the historic fair is now a park that borders the University of Chicago.  Exceptional aerial photographs taken from the windows of the original 1893 Ferris Wheel presented a special opportunity.  Drone VR photography matching the path of the original wheel was captured, and a 3D animated model of the ferris wheel created to match the historical photographs.  A narrated VR tour, as well as a web-portal mapped site were created to distribute the story.