A digital library for 3D models of landmark buildings has started a trial run, the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Science and Technology announced yesterday.
The Taiwan Digital Asset Library, a collaborative project between the two ministries, aims to collect virtual models of cultural assets that can be used for audiovisual creation, Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said.
It has collected 100 digital models, including of the Kikumoto Department Store (菊元百貨) and of the demolished China Plaza (中華商場), which lined the train tracks on Zhonghua Road in Taipei’s Ximending area (西門町) until 1992, she said.
Kikumoto was the first Japanese-built department store in Taiwan, she said, adding that local creators are encouraged to make good use of the models to tell more stories about Taiwan.
Fort San Domingo (紅毛城) in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水), the West Gate Red House (西門紅樓) in Taipei and the Siluo Bridge (西螺大橋) in Yunlin County are among 26 existing buildings that have been made into 3D models, the culture ministry said.
The models of China Plaza are scheduled to be used by the Public Television Service to produce a drama series based on Wu Ming-yi’s (吳明益) novel The Magician on the Bridge (天橋上的魔術師), it said.
Filmmaker Kent Chang (張永昌), who is working on a film adaptation of the comic book Scrolls of a Northern City (北城百畫帖, Pei Cheng Pai Hua Tieh) by AKRU, otherwise known as Shen Ying-chieh (沈穎杰), said he is using models of Kikumoto to recreate 1930s Taipei.
The former department store on Boai Road has been listed as a historic building and is owned by the Cathay Financial Group, culture ministry Information Technology Division Deputy Director Chen Ying-fang (陳瑩芳) said, adding that only part of its original interior remains.
Moonshine Animations, which was commissioned to produce the digital models, collects between 1,500 and 2,000 pictures for a structure before making its model, company chief executive Lin Chia-chi (林家齊) said.
Using graphic processing units offered by the National Center for High-performance Computing, the firm needs only about five hours to process the images — an activity that used to take a week, Lin said.
Besides recreating old buildings, the models would help Taiwanese artists “take their space in the world’s virtual dimension,” Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said.
The library is open for non-commercial use under the global Creative Commons license, while its licensing for commercial use is to be directed by the yet-to-be-established “cultural content promotion institute” (文化內容策進院), Cheng said, calling on lawmakers to support the institute’s establishment.
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