Where we’re going – Longhouse 5.0

Now that we’ve discussed previous versions of the longhouse let’s look at where we’re at and how we’re going to move forward. This new version of the longhouse is being led by Namir Ahmed from Ryerson University. Longhouse 5.0 will realize all of the aspects that we weren’t able to incorporate into 4.0. With collaboration from the Huron-Wendat community, the concept for this new visualization will deal with three iterations of village lifecycles, past, present, and future. A typical village would be utilized for around 30 years before surrounding resources would be diminished. With this in mind, a viewer will begin in a vibrant mid lifecycle village. They can then travel to a village abandoned and is in a state of decay and can progress to a new village site where construction is only beginning. All three iterations will be pre-contact.

Another significant advancement in 5.0 will be the inclusion and representation of the village’s inhabitants. It was communicated to me that the lack of people in previous versions was somewhat unsettling. In 4.0, audio was added to infer that the area was populated: people conversing, children playing, fire crackling, wind, running water of the river, a change between inside and outside. One of the challenges of including people is authentically representing the indigenous groups. An idea I had was to utilize the new Metahuman tools (https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/digital-humans?sessionInvalidated=true) that Epic Games has just released. Essentially the indigenous population would be able to craft their own avatars. The software is free and online for anyone to test out, making it highly accessible.

Using Metahuman has several other benefits. They are downloadable and editable. They are fully rigged to animate in the Unreal Engine. They’re characterized in case you need to use motion capture. It seems like a very promising option to populate the world.

With a.considerably larger scope and scale and possible problems with issues of the uncanny valley, we’re looking at a new style that moves away from the increasing photorealism of the previous visualizations. This could help speed up development, which will be beneficial given the timeline is fairly condensed. I’m going to be investigating a more painterly look over the next 2 weeks (leading up to full production) while I await the design direction of the community. The Miyazaki /Studio Ghibli style has a fascinating painterly look (found in such movies as Spirited Away). The challenge will be how impressionistic elements can get while maintaining a level of materiality found in real objects.

I’ve started to experiment with the existing longhouse in Substance Painter today. the results are promising so far.

This is an example of the outer shell, textured in Substance Painter.
I’ve started to apply this approach to the vestibule.

Published by Kris Howald

I was immersed into the world of virtual archeology for my Masters Research Project at Ryerson University.  The focus of this project was the digital reconstruction of the el-Hibeh temple in Egypt.  After four months I believe I was able to demonstrate the potential this medium has to offer as a way of bridging the past and present. I'm currently visualizing the past, present, and future of a pre-contact indigenous community.

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