All eyes are on virtual reality and digital archiving

“I’ve heard of VR, but what is it actually for?”
“Isn’t it just for games and entertainment?”

Do you think so?

Virtual reality (VR) creates virtual 3D spaces and new experiences. The world expects this technology and its market to grow significantly. Games, fashion, real estate, education, automobiles, healthcare, even the space industry and beyond. VR usage is expanding into all aspects of our lives, changing how we interact with the world.

Toppan is ready for the future. In the process of developing VR technology, we have been creating digital archives of cultural assets.

Preserving cultural heritage is invaluable work to help enable the culture of the past to be properly recorded for future generations.
Toppan can help. Our years of dedication to driving the evolution of print media mean that we can offer something unique.

We would like for you to have a glimpse of how Toppan’s digital archiving and VR technologies can change the way we live.

Media business to “preserve and pass on” as humans have always done

Looking back in human history, the innovation of media technology has always played a big role in protecting and imparting the culture created by our ancestors.

Indeed, records over thousands of years from across the globe have been left to us on what was at the time cutting-edge media technology.

Wall paintings, wooden and papyrus documents, the emergence of printing in China in the 8th century, Gutenberg’s movable type in the 15th century, photographs in the 18th century, and film in the 19th century… Throughout human history, innovations in recording media have always brought about the recording of history. A close connection existed between what happened, how it was protected, and how it was passed on.

VR: Nikko Toshogu Shrine—Yomeimon Gate
All rights reserved by Nikko Toshogu / Toppan Printing Co., Ltd.

New ways to preserve cultural heritage—overcoming deterioration and disasters

To protect and impart culture, humans have always faced the challenge of preserving the architecture, craftworks and artworks left to us. No matter how majestic a sacred structure is, or how well crafted a statue, engraving, or painting is, time will slowly wear it away. Natural disasters and fires can forever destroy such artifacts. No technology can completely prevent this fate.

At Toppan, we decided to overcome this challenge with digital archiving, exploiting the technologies we have developed as a leader in the media field. This involves three-dimensional measurement to accurately digitalize a structure’s shape, color management techniques developed in the printing business, and high-definition image processing technologies. We have enabled innovation by applying digital technology to the task of archiving.

VR: Toshodaiji Temple
All rights reserved: Toppan Printing Co., Ltd., / TBS
Supervisors: Kakichi Suzuki and Akihiko Oyama
Cooperation: Toshodaiji Temple
Data provider: Archive Footage Development Support
Project, Information-technology Promotion Agency

VR faithfully records and imparts the real experience

Undertaking digital archiving does not mean simply storing data. Data that is stored away will be forgotten with the passage of time, and the memory of the data source will be lost.
Toppan has focused on VR technology that can translate the digital data into a meaningful, immersive experience for many people.

Among our many VR works, Toshodaiji Temple has received wide acclaim. It gives you a true-to-life experience in viewing the details of the temple structure and Kaii Higashiyama’s mural paintings, which are influenced by the aspirations of the temple’s founder, Ganjin Wajo.

Viewers can enjoy virtual experiences of the Forbidden City, Kumamoto Castle, Nikko Toshogu Shrine, famous screen paintings, and more. We have stored digital data for more than 50 renowned architectural works, artworks and craftworks from all over the world and used it to create visually stunning VR content.

VR: The Keep of Edojo Castle
All rights reserved: Toppan Printing Co.,Ltd.

Recreating over a million intricate parts in The Keep of Edojo Castle VR production

We would like to introduce you to The Keep of Edojo Castle, a piece of VR content released in January 2017.

This project was an attempt to digitally recreate the keep of Edo Castle, which no longer physically exits.

We faithfully digitized each and every intricate part of over one million pieces, from the stone walls to the hollyhock leaf veins used in the crest designs chiseled on metal fittings, and the nails that secure the scales on the fish-shaped roof ornaments. Showing these details in full scale on a large screen enables viewers to experience the wonder of Japanese cultural heritage.

Toppan is committed to building accurate databases to recreate VR content faithfully. For this, we always ask the owners of each asset and academic specialists to supervise our work. Only through such efforts can a beautiful virtual experience spring to life, offering historical perspectives to people in the future.

Creating a time machine: The future of the AR experience and sightseeing

VR tour by Matsumoto Castle Entertainers

In our past, natural and man-made disasters have destroyed many historic sites and cultural assets all over the world. Even if by luck some structures were saved, they are now mostly off-limits to the people who yearn to see them. We want to change this. Toppan’s mission is to make historical culture available to the world through the use of printing technologies.

Although we have already mentioned that digital archiving is technology for storing, and VR is technology for communicating, we must not forget augmented reality (AR). Rather than using a specific VR setup, such as a special theater or head-mounted display, by using tools like smartphones and tablets, AR creates a new reality by layering images and video into real life.

A tour conductor can walk tourists through a historical site, instantly recreating the scene where a temple was destroyed hundreds of years ago. The possibilities to revisit history from a multitude of perspectives are endless with combined VR/AR technologies.

Creating a time machine to experience another era. Enabling anyone to time travel to historical sites all over the world, for deeper, more enjoyable interactions with the culture and history of the places they are visiting. Toppan is striving forward toward this future.

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