Monday 29 January 2024

Enhancement of Hidden Cultural Heritage: The Submerged Forest of Lake Tovel

Hello everyone,

I would have liked to write this post long ago, but I couldn't find the time. As many of you know, Arc-Team has been involved in the study of the submerged forest of Lake Tovel since 2005 (a project started by prof. Tiziano Camagna). For years, especially since we started using 360° cameras, I have been thinking about how to make this hidden cultural heritage accessible even to those who cannot dive (the lake is in a natural park and special permits are required for diving, usually issued for scientific research purposes). The main problem with 360° cameras for underwater shooting was the lack of custom waterproof housings. I had even reached the point of designing one, but fortunately, the company Isnta360 began producing underwater waterproof housings for its models. Finally, a couple of years ago, we had the opportunity to test this technology underwater, thanks to a commission received from APT Val di Non. After some dives, we managed to obtain a good 360° video of the submerged forest. For this first step, the main difficulties were finding optimal conditions for diving. In fact, there are many variables that can influence visibility in mountain lakes. Firstly, there is the weather factor: recent precipitation, even of low intensity, can stir up the upper layer of silt deposited on the lake bottom, which thus goes into suspension and adds to the clay (practically always dissolved in the water), significantly lowering underwater visibility. Secondly, the seasonal aspect should also be considered: cold seasons generally guarantee better visibility, but obviously in winter the lake freezes and the access road is covered with a thick layer of snow. Finally, the diving route should be evaluated. Following some tests with our Insta360 One X 2, we saw that, at Lake Tovel (with good visibility conditions), we should not descend below 20 - 22 meters, otherwise the light in the shots tended excessively towards the blue-green hue and there were no underwater amber filters yet to correct this issue in this type of cameras.

However, in the end, we managed to obtain a good 360° underwater video, which, adjusted through the open-source software KDEnlive, was finally edited and uploaded to YouTube at this address.


Generally, YouTube automatically recognizes this type of footage, but perhaps because it was edited in KDEnlive, this time it didn't work, so I had to inject the 360 metadata into the mp4 format. There are various options for doing this, including the open-source software spatial-media. Once the issue was fixed, YouTube (and other video platforms) was able to "understand" that it was a 360 video and uploaded it accordingly (also activating the option of stereo viewing, in case you intend to enjoy the video through Virtual Reality headsets).

From the same footage, I was also able to extract some 360° panoramas of various Points Of Interest (POIs), in order to create, through the open-source software Marzipano, a specific App, which was then uploaded to the APT Val di Non website at this link. Below, you can see a screenshot of the App.

I hope the post is useful. Have a nice day!

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