Masters Thesis

Immersive Visualization of Geographic Landscapes in Virtual Reality with Emphasis on Archaeological Sites with Spiritual Significance to the Tongva People

The purpose of this thesis is to explore new methods of geographic visualization and to prototype a method to capture images of geographic landscapes, including both physical and human geographic landscapes, and then display them in immersive visualization through virtual reality (VR), giving the observer a sense of “being there.” This thesis will answer the following questions. Does the technology exist to provide an immersive visual experience of geographic landscapes by producing spherical panoramic stills and short spherical panoramic videos that are capable of being displayed in virtual reality goggles and in full-dome theaters? Can the immersive experience also provide an interpretation of human spiritual geographic perspective for the landscape through narration? Is the capture and preservation of geographic and spiritual landscapes in virtual reality something that is useful, worthwhile and of value to society? the thesis will include in the prototype a methodology to portray the sacred and spiritual aspect of the landscape perspective through interpretive audio narration. the methodology will provide geographers, archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and cultural resource managers a way to visually and audibly document geographic physical landscapes, and sacred landscapes in virtual reality. the prototype will develop a process to use photographic equipment, audio recording equipment, computer systems and software to render photographs with audio tracks into immersive visualization in a format compatible with virtual reality display equipment.

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