UNESCO #NetMedYouth Regional Training Workshop

“Increasing appetite for creative digital technologies among young cultural heritage defenders”

The UNESCO NET-MED Youth Regional Youth Training Workshop (13-14 December 2018) is a two-day Regional Training Workshop in Tunis, Tunisia, entitled “Increasing appetite for creative digital technologies among young cultural heritage defenders” brought together over 50 participants that were selected based on their relevant experience following a call for expression of interest which received over 550 applications.

Participants and settings

I was very honoured to be invited by UNESCO to give a keynote speech on the use of Virtual Reality for cultural heritage. In engaging with the audiences, I have found that there were very bright minds amongst the participants from the region, who were either PhD students or aspiring PhD candidates – the heritage defenders. I am deeply impressed with their motivation for cultural heritage and am keen to contribute further to the cause – the increase of appetite for creative digital technologies and skills training for the region. The 30+ hour journey from China was totally worth it and I have made many friends here! The title and abstract of my talk is given below together with some basic resources for the participants.

Getting ready my talk

Virtual Heritage: Record and share your worlds in accessible spaces

Prof. Dr. Eugene Ch’ng Director, NVIDIA Joint-Lab on Mixed Reality, NVIDIA Technology Centre
Co-editor-in-chief, PRESENCE: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments, MIT Press
University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Abstract – We live through the passage of time where our identities and cultures both shape and are shaped by the boundaries of our physical dwellings and environments. The physical structures and objects we encounter embed and record intangible memories that are often dear to us. Unfortunately, the common everyday objects and environments which anchor our memories are often eroded by time, replaced by new things brought about by economic and technological progress. In time, we would have nothing in our world from which to bring us back to our pasts apart from media elements such as photos and videos we share in social media. Yet, technological progress has now given us an additional dimension from which to anchor our memories, and this within a perpetual space, within virtual environments mediated by virtual reality technologies. Consequently, such technologies are now highly accessible, inexpensive and easy to use. The concept of a virtual space for the reproduction, storage, and sharing of art and cultural heritage is the foundation of this talk, which provides a basis for empowering individuals and institutions intending to record and share their own heritage.

VR as space and place

VR as space and place

Event Information


V&A’s ReACH Initiative (Reproduction of Art and Cultural Heritage)

This is an important declaration for the reproduction of cultural heritage objects (e.g., photogrammetry)


Related Articles – Photogrammetry, VR and AR

  • Ch’ng E. (forthcoming) The First Original Copy And The Role Of Blockchain In The Reproduction Of Cultural Heritage, PRESENCE 27(1). [PDF self-archive copy]
  • Ch’ng E., Cai S., Zhang T., Leow F.T. (accepted) Crowdsourcing 3D Cultural Heritage: Best Practice for Mass Photogrammetry, Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development [email to request]
  • Ch’ng E., Cai S., Leow F.T., Zhang T. (2018), Adoption and Use of Emerging Cultural Technology in China’s Museums, Journal of Cultural Heritage. [PDF self-archive copyhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.culher.2018.11.016
  • Ch’ng E., Cai Y and Thwaites H (2018) Guest Editors’ Introduction, Special Issue on VR for Culture and Heritage, PRESENCE: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments 26(3) MIT Press [Link][PDF]
  • Ch’ng E. (2015). Virtual Heritage: Cultural Agents, Environments and Objects [Guest editor’s introduction, Special Issue on Virtual Heritage: Cultural Agents, Environments and Objects]. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 24(3), p. iii-viii. [Link][PDF]
  • Cai S., Ch’ng E. and Li Y. (2018) A Comparison of the Capacities of VR and 360-Degree Video for Coordinating Memory in the Experience of Cultural Heritage, Digital Heritage 2018 International Congress & Expo, San Francisco, USA, 26-29 October 2018 [email to request]
  • Li Y., Ch’ng E., S. Cai and See S. (2018) Multiuser Interaction with Hybrid VR and AR for Cultural Heritage Objects, Digital Heritage 2018 International Congress & Expo, San Francisco, USA, 26-29 October 2018 [email to request]

Simple VR Resources and where to start?

The bullet points and links provided below are pointers to all necessary hardware/software components for the creation of virtual environments for your cultural heritage sites. Each bullet point can be expanded into multiple workshops from beginner to advanced levels.

  • 3D Modelling and Editing – Learn 3D modelling with Blender3D (free and open source), AutoDesk 3D Studio Max or Maya. These software allows you to construct 3D models, map materials and textures to your models and create 3D animations for virtual environments. They are also essential for editing photogrammetry models. MeshLab is useful for processing models and ZBrush is generally used editing and decimating for very complex, high resolution models.
  • Photogrammetry Software – capturingreality.com, VisualSFM, Agisoft Photoscan, Autodesk Recap are all options for photogrammetry work.
  • VR, Virtual Environments Creation/Games Engines – Unity and Unreal Engine are the two most popularly used integrated development environments for creating virtual environments. They can import photogrammetry models for scene setup, and connect to popular VR headsets such as HTC VIVE and The Oculus Rift. You will need to download plugins for headsets for development. Note that VR environments use a lot of computing and graphics card resources and therefore, your photogrammetry model geometry will need to be decimated.
  • Model Sharing – Sketchfab.com is the choice for photogrammetry-based models sharing. They can be directly exported from RealityCapture.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *