ARTours: Exciting 3D Murals Come to Clearwater
It’s been said that there’s nothing new under the sun… except when there is! How often have you seen a Tampa Bay building’s wall mural leap into motion or burst into bloom with vibrant colors?
The Clearwater Redevelopment Agency partnered with the University of South Florida’s Access 3D Lab and Advanced Visualization Center to develop an immersive public art experience called ARTours Clearwater: An Interactive Journey through Clearwater’s Murals with Augmented Reality This unique project brings murals to life with 3D animation through a phone app along a half-mile route through downtown – a first-of-a-kind experience in Florida.
Visitors to the murals download the ARTours app on their Apple or Android phones, hold their devices in front of the art, and click on icons to see 3D images and vivid animations. The ARTours journey truly is one of the most exciting experiences to hit Clearwater in a long time.
The City of Clearwater and the University of South Florida celebrated the launch of the new ARTours Augmented Reality Experience with the talented minds behind USF’s Access 3D Lab and offered a guided tour of the four murals on two Jolley Trolleys through downtown Clearwater on March 9, 2023.
You’ll definitely want to experience it for yourself. Come immerse your senses in this remarkable trip through augmented-reality art! (See the photos of the ARTours launch below.)
The following excerpts are from Rediscovering Downtown Clearwater’s Art Scene with Augmented Reality by Laura Harrison, Ph.D., Director, Access 3D Lab, University of South Florida.
In 1981, the Clearwater City Council established the Clearwater Redevelopment Agency (CRA) as an independent agency with a focus on downtown revitalization. One of the key goals of the CRA is to drive the beautification of public spaces with innovative arts and culture projects. Since 2019, the CRA has partnered with the University of South Florida’s(USF) Access 3D Lab and Advanced Visualization Center to develop an immersive public art experience called ARTours Clearwater: An Interactive Journey through Clearwater’s Murals with Augmented Reality. The project is unique in that it not only brings murals to life but places them along a half-mile public art route that weaves through downtown – which is a first not only for Clearwater but also for the Tampa Bay region.
To create the experience, Dr. Laura Harrison of USF’s Access 3D Lab and her team documented four of the downtown Clearwater murals with Faro Focus lidar scanners). These scanners generate highly accurate measurements of the artwork, which ensure that the AR app’s animations trigger appropriately. Once the scans were processed and exported, they were handed over to Dr. Howard Kaplan and his team at the USF Advanced Virtualization Center, who developed the app using Vuforia and Unity. Dr. Kaplan, Dr. Harrison, and the CRA team collaborated to storyboard the app experience – analyzing the stories behind each mural and developing animated hotspots that draw users into unique visual stories.
The largest mural, Comunidad, features portraits of multicultural women joining each other in dance. The visuals contain short, playful animations of flowing paint with rhythmic music in addition to longer montages, videos, and animated sequences that add depth to narratives of portraiture, female empowerment, dancing, and community engagement.
Additional murals along the route include Ikebana Series, which depicts an ikebana flower arrangement and comes to life with bursts of color, flower blooms, and buzzing insects and hummingbirds; After a While, a playful image of an alligator on a leash that comes to life in a richly animated aquatic environment; and 100 Years Before J. Cole, a celebration of the region’s history with animations, pays homage to the historic Orange Belt Railway that cut through Florida’s orange groves. The current Pinellas Trail bike path follows the route of the original railway.
To read the full article by Dr. Harrison, visit www.usf.edu/arts-sciences/hub/rediscovering-downtown-clearwaters-art-scene-with-augmented-reality.aspx.
ARTours Clearwater Launch Event Photo Gallery
Magnificent Murals – Clearwater Beach
Magnificent Murals – East Shore Resort
The Making of the Clearwater Beach Welcome Mural