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Project definition

Before embarking further on this project it is essential to define precisely our objectives, the general method to achieve these objectives and structure our approach.


the creation of a virtual environment of the city of Neufchâteau and its castle in the 15th century followed by immersion in this environment with a virtual reality helmet adapted as the ultimate goal.

To make it simple: the goal is to visually transport ourselves to our lands in the middle of the Middle Ages among our ancestors. The excitement of such a project is obvious with the promise which is made and the use of a whole computer battery to achieve these ends. Not limited to a "geek" exercise the variety of tasks can only be rewarding for the designer with personal development in different disciplines:

History the compilation of different sources of information available (Arenberg map 1609, remarkable reference books, expert consultation, etc.) for a solid interpretation of our model
Architecture the synthesis of knowledge in medieval fortifications and all its elements of passive or active defenses.
Archeology the synthesis with all the adequate precision of the recorded traces of the past.
Géography a first control of the use of satellite images
data processing the use of a range of tools ranging from computer model design to satellite data processing, rendering and animation software, image processing, etc.
Mathematics a good view in space and good notions of descriptive geometry for the re-construction of the model in 3D
Arts a judicious approach creating an atmosphere and not a "dry" computer reconstruction.

The task will be limited to immersion in the environment. The interaction with it is outside the scope of this project.

Working method.

A good working method is crucial in the face of the vastness and complexity of the task. After having established these objectives, a good project management requires a clear strategy, an estimate of the required resources and the duration of production. The goal must be achievable in a limited amount of time with available resources and a reasonable level of difficulty. Failure to comply with this rule would certainly lead to discouragement. How to organize this work ?

1. Data acquisition.
The data will be of different types: archaeological, bibliographic or investigative. Arenberg's map of 1609 with Neufchâteau and its provost is the cornerstone of the exercise. Without this great oil painting the reconstruction of the city would be impossible. A second document from the past is a drawing of Lieutenant Louis de Frahan in 1657 entitled "Castrum Desolationis". These documents will be completed by the magnificent book "Histoire du Pays de Neufchâteau. La ville. La seigneurie. Le Ban de Mellier" de A. Geubel et L. Gourdet, 1956. Some interesting studies of Mr H. Gratia, the book of synthesis of Mr Kellen and the periodic bulletins of the "Terre de Neufchâteau" club are also very useful for the reconstruction. The information will be complemented by the results of excavations as well as reference works on medieval architecture.

2. 3D geometric construction.
After data collection follows the implementation. Each piece of data must be transcribed into geometric information in a 3D environment. The configuration of the ground with its mesh will be obtained after satellite image processing available to the general public. The location of the buildings will be inspired by the in-depth analysis of Mr Geubel and Mr Gourdet. This study of 1956 is undeniably robust after the confirmation of excavations almost fifty later! If the plan view suffers little uncertainty after the recent excavations it is quite different from the view in elevation where some university textbooks will prove necessary for the construction of a realistic 3D model.

3. Definition of materials and textures.
Little information has come to us to ensure the materials used. The ruins of the castle are today bare stone masonry while the map of Arenberg shows a castle in white. What about habitat? Probably a mix of hard buildings and other more modest mud and thatch houses. Nature was also somewhat different: no big spruce forests, some modest side roads ... There will be many assumptions about this environment.

4. Static rendering.
After the implementation of the 3D model and the application of surfaces and textures the photographic part can begin with the static rendering of some particular views to give a general impression of the castle and its village. These views will be used to compare the configuration of the Middle Ages with that of today.

5. 3D Animation.
The static view leaves only a very partial impression. The volumes and the relative dispositions of the buildings are badly perceived. A large number of photographs are necessary to have a complete understanding of the environment. This perception in space can very quickly become a difficult task. 3D animation with the help of a moving camera solves this problem. A small video throughout this space reveals the layout of the buildings and the layout of the field in a relaxing and pleasant way. The addition of everyday characters will make this mural more vivid.

6. Immersion - Virtual Reality.
Recent technology of the last decade, virtual reality allows immersion in the environment with the help of a helmet designed for this purpose. We are an integral part of the decor. The environment absorbs us entirely. Virtual reality is the ultimate stage of 3D modeling. This will end this project with the ambitious goal of walking the streets of Neufchâteau in the sixteenth century !