EON - Eye of Nagaur

Software by Paul Bourke
May 2009

The following documents the development of an application used in an interactive digital installation called the "Eye of Nagaur", conceived by Sarah Kenderdine and Jeffrey Shaw. The application developed is a 3D interface to 16 very high resolution spherical panoramic images from the Ahhichatragarh Fort at Nagaur in Rajasthan. Each panorama is additionally augmented with traditional music created with a range of local instruments.

The user is presented with an aerial view of the fort complex and the 16 spherical panoramic images arranged as a circular "pearl necklace". One can navigate to any of the panorama nodes by rotating the necklace and clicking on the highlighted pearl.

Upon selecting a particular panoramic image one flies into the pearl where the full resolution image is presented. One can then pan and zoom around at that position within the fort.

The entire application is created in the Unity3D game engine. When on the outside of the pearl low resolution versions of the panoramic images are wrapped onto a sphere. Upon entering a sphere a high resolution version of the panoramic image is faded in. This approach is necessary since a 16Kx8K image require 512K of texture memory, clearly most graphics cards would not support 16 of these in texture memory at once.

Upon entering a pearl the camera is surrounded by a cube map, each face of the cube consists of a 4x4 array of textured meshes. Each individual mesh is textured with a 1Kx1K texture, so a total of 4K per face, and 16K (horizontally) per cube. The scripting in Unity is used to enable/disable the appropriate cubes as the camera enters/leaves the pearls.

The native resolution of each panorama is on average 16000 pixels providing the range of zoom illustrated below.