Bollywood goes 360: National Film Archive of India opens virtual museum

virtual museum

The National Film Archive of India (NFAI) has unveiled what it claims is the first ever virtual museum (that is to say, a museum built in virtual reality) that showcases Indian Cinema.

Created by Digital Art VRe, a Pune-based start-up content production firm specializing in virtual reality, the virtual museum showcases a collection of rare film posters and photographs.

Museums hold a monumental place in societies across the world. They house a valuable connection to the past of our civilisation. It is a connection that needs to be nurtured and passed on to the future generations as a legacy.

According to Digital Art VRe director Rugwed Deshpande, India currently doesn’t have sufficient resources or the spaces to build world-class museums, and as cities grow denser and more populous, this challenge will become more pronounced. “PM Narendra Modi had recently shared his vision to have virtual museums in order to protect and nurture our country’s culture and heritage. NFAI’s Virtual Museum is a revolutionary step in this direction.”

NFAI, which has been operational since 1964, has the largest archives of films in India, with over 1,32,000 film reels, over 1,52,000 photos, over 23,500 posters, over 15,000 song booklets, state of the art storage facilities, and film restoration and preservation technology. The task for Digital Art VRe was to improve NFAI’s outreach and the awareness of their activities.

Considering the enormous inventory and operations that take place at NFAI, Digital Art VRe devised two immersive 360° experiences. One is a 360° tour of the NFAI campus and the facilities. The second is a virtual museum which showcases a collection of rare film posters and photographs from across decades and from across numerous states in India.

The architecture and interiors of the virtual museum have been designed to match the standards of a world-class museum. The sound, the music and the overall experience has been tailor-made to match the “patriotism” theme of the current International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, where these experiences are being showcased for the first time.

“We are presenting a special three-minute film at IFFI 2016, which provides crucial information about NFAI. This virtual reality film gives viewers an illusion of physically standing in the premises of NFAI and taking a tour. The experience is turning out to be a visual treat for both the local and global audiences at IFFI,” said Prakash Magdum, Director of NFAI.

Digital Art VRe has also developed special smartphone applications for the museum.

Ajay Parge, director of Digital Art VRe says, the basic elements that comprise the VR museum can be used to create other musuems. “Considering the scalable and expandable nature of the model we have created, we can replicate this template to perfectly match multiple functions and purposes for museums of numerous kinds. The possibilities are virtually limitless and Digital Art VRe is eager to explore every one of them.”

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