An Immersive Virtual Sailing on the 18 th -Century Ship Le Boullongne

Abstract : The work presented in this paper is the result of collaboration between historians and computer scientists whose goal was the digital reconstitution of Le Boullongne, an 18 th-century merchant ship of La Compagnie des Indes orientale. 1 This ship has now disappeared and its reconstitution aims at understanding on-board living conditions. Three distinct research laboratories have participated in this project so far. The first, a department of naval history, worked on historical documents, especially the logbooks describing all traveling events of the ship. The second, a research laboratory in archaeology, archaeoscience and history, proposed a 3D model of the ship based on the original naval architectural plans. The third, a computer science research laboratory, implemented a simulation of the ship sailing in virtual reality. This paper focuses on the reconstitution of the ship in virtual reality, aiming at restoring a realistic interactive naval simulation: the 3D model of the ship has been integrated in an ocean simulation, with a physical rendering of the buoyancy. The simulation allows a user to walk around on the ship, at a scale of 1:1, and even steer it through a natural interaction. Several characteristics of the simulation reinforce the sensation of being on-board: • A sonic environment mixing spatialized sounds (gulls flying, a whale swimming, wood cracking, cannons firing) and global soundscape (ocean and wind). • The meteorology of the simulation is dynamically modifiable; the user can increase the swell height and speed. The global illumination and wind sound vary in accordance with these parameters. The buoyancy simulation entails realistic movements of the ship. • Several interactions are proposed allowing the user to steer the ship with his/her hand, walk around on the ship, fire the cannons, and modify the weather. • Three animated sailors accompany the user in his/her sailing experience. They are wearing realistic period costumes. The immersive simulation has allowed historians to embark on Le Boullongne and to better understand how life was organized on-board. It has also been presented at several public exhibitions, in CAVE-like structures and HMD.
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Jean-Baptiste Barreau, Florian Nouviale, Ronan Gaugne, Yann Bernard, Sylviane Llinares, et al.. An Immersive Virtual Sailing on the 18 th -Century Ship Le Boullongne. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press (MIT Press), 2015, 24 (3). ⟨hal-01218209⟩

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