UNC Image-Based Rendering
Overview People Publications Projects Internal Links

Exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art

A team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia has created a "Virtual Monticello" for the Jefferson's America & Napoleon's France exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA).  The exhibition is part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase and is open from April 12, 2003 until August 31, 2003.  The curators expect several hundreds of thousands visitors to the exhibition, which contains many period paintings and other artifacts from the United States and France.

Some objects from Monticello are on loan to NOMA for the exhibition, but the curators wanted another way to present Monticello, which was one of Jefferson's most interesting creations.  Since we had laser scanned parts of Monticello in 2000, the Monticello curators referred them to us.  This collaboration was a good way to demonstrate some of the research results of our NSF-funded project.  Together with the NOMA curators, we chose technologies suitable for exhibits visited by thousands of people each day over several months.  We built two exhibits.

Rendering of 3D model shown in the Virtual Monticello exhibit.


Left window on the facade built for the exhibit.

Virtual Monticello

One exhibit, which the museum titled Virtual Monticello, is a life-sized rear projected virtual environment.  The museum built a 55-foot-wide facade of Monticello (image at left shows one window on the facade) that includes two windows onto which we project a stereo view of Mr. Jefferson's library.  Museum visitors wear polarized glasses, and one visitor is tracked to provide the viewpoint.

We use two Mitsubishi projectors with circular polarizers to provide the images for the two eyes.  Rendering is on a single PC with an NVIDIA GeForce 4 graphics card.  One set of polarized glasses (shown at right) is tracked using a magnetic tracker.  There is a button attached to the railing shown at left.  It allows the museum volunteer to control the projection.  Usually the images are shown for one minute and then the display dims.

A major consideration during the design was robustness since the exhibit must run for over four months.  Each set of glasses, for example, will be handled by tens of thousands of people.


Creating the Model

The 3D model was created with the 3rdTech DeltaSphere 3000 laser scanner, a commercial version of a scanner that was originally designed at UNC as part of this project.  The scanner captures very accurate and dense range samples.  These, combined with color imagery, are used to create a simplified 3D mesh.  The image at the top of the page is an example of the renderings from the model.

We made several visits to Monticello to scan.  Because Monticello is open to visitors during the day, we could only scan at dawn or during the evening until about 11:00 PM.  The image at the right shows UVa undergrad Ben Cummings (left) and UNC graduate student Nathaniel Williams (right) scanning the fireplace at the entrance hall of Monticello.

The DeltaSphere can scan up to 40 feet, although we normally do not use it at its full range.  It can capture data at up to 20 samples per degree.  The result is a depth image with up to 7200 columns.  We make color images with a digital camera and combine the two types of data.

Scanning at Monticello in November of 2002.


Picture of the stereogram.

Barrier Stereogram

We also collaborated with (art)n to create a barrier stereogram that enables visitors to see Mr. Jefferson's Cabinet in stereo without wearing any glasses.  The artists at (art)n have developed and patented a barrier stereogram technology that they call a PHSCologram.  This PHSCologram is made from 64 images that we took at Monticello.

The image on the right, from patent number 5,113,213, illustrates the concept behind the PHSCologram.  The barrier, numbered 12, blocks the path of light rays to the eyes, except in one direction.  By interleaving columns of pixels onto the rear piece of film (numbered 11), the two eyes see different images, achieving the stereo effect.  Motion parallax is produced because the viewer sees different images as he or she moves right and left.

To generate the images for the PHSCologram, we built an instrument that we called the railcam.  It consists of a six megapixel Kodak camera mounted on a one-meter-long linear positioner.  The computer controls the position of the camera and the shutter.


Scanning Monticello page at UVa.


UNC faculty:  Anselmo Lastra and Lars Nyland.
UNC Students: Chad Hantak, Kok-Lim Low, Nathaniel Williams.
UNC Staff: Kurtis Keller and John Thomas.
Artist: Ben Cloward.

UVa faculty: David Luebke.
UVa graduate students: Rui Wang, and Cliff Woolley.
UVa undergraduates: Ben Cummings and Jessica Hang.


Keith Miller from (art)n spent many hours working with us to get the PHSCologram right.  We enjoyed the collaboration and are looking forward to more.

Thanks to Marilyn Dittmann, Steve Maklansky,  and Allison Reid, our collaborators at the New Orleans Museum of Art.  Also to Mark Brunner and Elroy Quenroe at Quenroe Associates, who designed the exhibition, and Archie Sperrier of Carl E. Woodward, LLC, who managed the construction of the Monticello facade.

We are grateful to the curatorial and communications staff at Monticello, especially Carrie Taylor, Lisa Williford, Wayne Mogielnicki, and Jessica Tyree for their late nights and early mornings.  We also wish to thank Susan Stein, the curator, for making the complicated arrangements.  Photographer Charles Shoffner did an excellent job of lighting the rooms.

Thanks to Fred Brooks, Henry Fuchs and Leonard McMillan of UNC for their technical advice.

Research Sponsors


Supported by the National Science Foundation grant number ACI-0205425.


  Additional support from Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories.

Maintained by: pxplprob@cs.unc.edu
Last updated: 4/5/03

Department of Computer Science
Sitterson Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3175
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 919-962-1758