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Virginia Tech

Plumage is a stereoscopic 3D experience showcasing the culmination of a personal exploration and observation of birds: a digitally modeled and rendered, fantastical bird referred to simply as a Phoenix. In many cultures birds are tied to ideas of freedom, power, and the otherworldly. Preconceived notions of a phoenix exist across many cultures as well, but for this project I wanted to create my own interpretation.

While working, I drew upon my admiration of birds for their qualities of strength, beauty, and curiosity to infuse into the project. Inspired by the dynamic and detailed works of naturalists like John James Audubon, I took the opportunity to make my own observations and records of birds.

I began exploring different processes of digitizing three-dimensional forms by scanning bird skins. However, due to the nature of fibrous and reflective materials (of which birds are often both) I ran into challenges that made accurate and detailed representation difficult if not impossible. From there I made the decision to pursue a more imaginative artistic approach to the project.

More than just a homage to feathers and birds, this project represents the continued value of artists in the field of preservation and their ability to push visuals further with their own observations where automation and digitization fall short. Using life references I created my own textures and forms with details meant to emulate my favorite aspects of the birds that inspired me throughout my journey.

Larger-than-life, projected stereoscopic 3D allows the audience to see details clearly and enhances the dynamic quality of the piece; both very important elements that needed to shine through in the final artwork. Plumage is made possible through the use of the Cyclorama, a series of convex screens that surround an audience and allow them to appreciate scenes projected in stereoscopic 3D.

Art, 3D Modeling, Digitization, Ornithology, 3D Scanning, Photogrammetry