02 May 2024

Assisi Digital Heritage: A Virtual Journey Inside the Basilica of Saint Francis

Giotto’s frescoes come to life with new immersive digital tools 

Visore a 360 gradi della Basilica Superiore di assisi

One of the great digitization projects of the Italian cultural heritage was Haltadefinizione’s 2009 digital acquisition of Giotto’s cycle of frescoes in the Upper Basilica of Assisi. This made it possible to see details that are virtually imperceptible to the naked eye.  

Ultra-high definition digital photography produces images that are later integrated into new delivery technologies which bring new value to the works. Examples of these innovative digital viewers and interactive touchscreens have debuted at Assisi Digital Heritage, at the Fuorisalone of Milan, from PTS, Digital Design and Mille997.  

Haltadefinizione backstage Assisi 2009
Ultra-high definition digital photography done in 2009 in the Upper Basilica of Assisi

Beginning with the digital images of Giotto’s frescoes, Haltadefinizione has created an application for Apple Vision Pro that gives the user a taste of a new extended reality and mixed reality experience. This viewer offers its users an unprecedented virtual immersion into the Basilica of Assisi. Compared to other viewers that have been available until now, the Apple Vision Pro has much higher resolution and better image quality. This viewer was released in the United States in February of 2024 and its Italian release date is not yet known. Nevertheless, Haltadefinizione’s team is already working with it to create new immersive experiences using the ultra-high definition Gigapixel images in its Image Bank. 

One of the main goals of the extended reality experience is to fulfill the promise of virtual open access to museums, galleries, churches and archeological sites.

Haltadefinizione Assisi Apple Vision Pro 1
Mixed and extended reality experience using Apple Vision Pro

These ultra-high definition digital images are also the starting point for the development of an interactive touchscreen that includes a panoramic 360-degree view of the Upper Basilica of Assisi. This tool allows the user to zoom in on a single scene and to project the frescoes onto a wall. Haltadefinizione’s Digital Asset Management (DAM) software Coosmo controls the integration of the ultra-high definition images onto the panoramic viewer. 

Haltadefinizione Assisi touch2
Touchscreen with projection onto the wall from the interactive viewer 

The 360-degree viewer of the Upper Basilica will soon be published online on Haltadefinizione’s website. It will allow art lovers and students to get closer than ever to the details hidden in the fresco cycle of Saint Francis.

Visore a 360 gradi della Basilica Superiore di assisi
360-degree panoramic viewer of the Upper Basilica of Assisi

The available applications and uses of Gigapixel images can have physical as well as digital form. Take the example of Digital Design and Mille997, two companies that specialize in interior design. They have in fact designed the interiors for this event, using images of scenes from the life of Saint Francis. Visitors can see full-size images of Giotto’s frescoes, from a point of view that was previously not possible. The ultra-high definition images are what make fine art available as an exclusive and distinctive element, even in the context of interior design

Haltadefinizione Assisi carta parati
Wall covering decor using Giotto’s Dream of Pope Innocent III

The event was made possible by the kind collaboration of the brothers of the Holy Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi, who have a long record of supporting projects for the conservation and digital fruition of their heritage. 

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