VR Recreation of the Sistine Chapel is Now Available on Steam for Free

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Located at the Vatican City in Rome, Italy, the Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo’s magnum opus; the chapel’s painted ceiling, which includes the famous ‘Creation of Adam’ along with hundreds of other works which form an epic mural, is a cornerstone of Renaissance artwork. A painstaking virtual recreation of the Sistine Chapel is now available for free on Steam, offering an incredible up-close view of the works along with an hour of guided audio commentary.

IL DIVINO: Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in VR is now available for free on Steam, accessible in both VR headsets and flat monitors. The project is the brainchild of Epic Games’ Lead Technical Animator Chris Evans, and is said to be the culmination of a passion project spanning 15 years. A spokesperson for the project says that Evans’ goal is to democratize access to the beauty and history of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

The VR experience details every square inch of the Sistine Chapel and offers users an hour of deeply researched audio commentary which covers the history of the masterpiece along with expansive commentary of the overarching themes, individual pieces, and even the scaffolding that Michelangelo specially designed to more easily paint the ceiling. Viewers can even get a better-than-real-life perspective by stepping atop a virtual lift to see the artwork up close.

A spokesperson for the project says that Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in VR contains some 90 4K texture maps, compiled and corrected from high resolution photographs, with enough detail for viewers to see details down to individual brush strokes and cracked plaster.

The team behind the project detailed some of the technical work that went into its creation, including the challenges of correcting and reprojecting the texture maps onto the 3D geometry with high detail, as well as color correcting the maps which were compiled from disparate source imagery.

A spokesperson for the project says that Evans’ plans to update Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in VR over time and bring the project to other VR platforms.

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