Virtual Reality Experience "Eva Umlauf - her testimony"

The Ludwig Maximilian University and the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) have initiated another virtual reality project to preserve the memories of contemporary witnesses. Using volumetric video technology, whose basic technology "3D Human Body Reconstruction" was developed by researchers at Fraunhofer HHI, the memories of Holocaust survivors will be recorded for future generations. In the volumetric studio of Volucap GmbH, Eva Umlauf, one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, told of her persecution.

This virtual reality experience uses for the first time the technology of the subsequent animation of the volumetrically represented person. This makes it possible for the witness Eva Umlauf to always look at the user in the experience and make eye contact, as the head is turned in the direction of the user in real time.

The history of the production at a glance

In 2021, the collaboration between the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich began to develop a virtual reality experience of the narrative of Holocaust survivor Dr Eva Umlauf (born 1942 in Nováky, Slovakia).

In May 2021, we had the opportunity to record Dr. Umlauf in the volmetric studio of Volucap GmbH at Filmpark Potsdam-Babelsberg. At the same time, we applied for funding from the EVZ foundation. Our funding application was successful and the joint project VoViREx started in September 2022.

In cooperation with INVR.SPACE, a concept for the Virtual Reality Experience was developed and the first version is now available.

Project Team

This project is a collaboration between the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute with the team around Dr. Oliver Schreer and Ingo Feldmann and the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Prof. Dr. Anja Ballis and Prof. Dr. Markus Gloe. We thank Dr. Eva Umlauf for telling us her story and for being willing to be volumetrically recorded.

Partner link: https://www.lediz.uni-muenchen.de/vovirex/index.html

Volumetric capture 2021

In May 2021, the volumetric recordings were made with Ms Eva Umlauf in the volumetric studio of Volucap GmbH in Potsdam, Babelsberg. She narrated six different episodes from her life, starting with her birth in Nováky, a forced and transit camp for Jewish people. A total of 50 minutes of video material from 32 cameras with a data volume of approx. 80 terabytes was recorded, which serves as the basis for generating the volumetric videos.

Proof-of-concept 2023

Three of the six episodes were selected and integrated into the proof-of-concept. In the first episode, Eva Umlauf introduces herself and tells of her birth. The second episode describes her arrival at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and her liberation in 1945. In the last episode, she tells of her speech at a memorial service at the Auschwitz memorial in January 2011. She also recites the last part of her speech. A visual concept for the design of the virtual environment was created for each of the three parts. In addition, interactive elements were developed and the type of navigation in the VR experience was defined.

Making-of from volumetric Capture of von Eva Umlauf (May 2021)

Volumetric reconstruction of Eva Umlauf

Trailer of VR Experience "Eva Umlauf - her testimony"

Provision of the VR experience to the interested public

An evaluation and provision of the VR Experience is planned within the framework of the joint project VoViREx. As with the VR Experience "Ernst Grube - the Legacy", distribution via commercial or freely accessible platforms such as SteamVR will not be possible. On the other hand, a presentation in memorials and museums or use in history lessons at secondary schools is a suitable way to keep memories of the Holocaust alive.

As soon as the VR experience is complete, we will make it available to interested parties.

Public demonstrations of the VR experience

Date Event
6th June 2023 VR Cinema organised by INVR.SPACE gmbH atm Creative Summer Bash 2023, Berlin, Germany
20th January 2023 Presentation of the proof-of-concpt at atrium of Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany
29th March 2023 Regional Training: "Learning with Digital Testimonies", Goethe-Gymnasium Lichterfelde, Berlin, Germany
13th April 2023 Workshop: "Interactive, digital, virtual: New media formats for teaching about the Holocaust and National Socialism“, Akademie für Lehrerfortbildung und Personalführung (ALP), Dillingen, Germany
25th April 2023 Training: "Learning with Digital Testimonies", Kulturzentrum LUISE, München, Germany
May 8, 2023 Veranstaltung des Landtags Rheinland-Pfalz anlässlich des Jahrestags der Befreiung vom Nationalsozialismus: „#weitergedenken: Wie wollen wir in Zukunft erinnern?“, Mainz, Germany

Press

May 9, 2023: "#weitergedenken: Wie wollen wir in Zukunft erinnern?", press release of State Parliament Rheinland-Pfalz as part of the thematic focus on "Remembrance Culture“, Germany

Publications

  • Oliver Schreer, Anja Ballis
    Volumetrische Virtual Reality Experience mit Holocaust-Überlebenden – ein innovatives Medienformat,
    FKT-Fachzeitschrift für Fernsehen, Film und Elektronische Medien, vol. 12, pp. 28-29, December 2022
  • Oliver Schreer, Markus Worchel, Rodrigo Mauricio Diaz Fernandez, Sylvain Renault, Wieland Morgenstern, Ingo Feldmann, Marcus Zepp, Anna Hilsmann, Peter Eisert
    Preserving Memories of Contemporary Witnesses Using Volumetric Video,
    i-com, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, ISSN: 2196-6826, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 71-82, April 2022, doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/icom-2022-0015, Open Access, Invited Paper
  • Anna Hilsmann, Philipp Fechteler, Wieland Morgenstern, Wolfgang Paier, Ingo Feldmann, Oliver Schreer, Peter Eisert
    Going beyond Free Viewpoint: Creating Animatable Volumetric Video of Human Performances,
    IET Computer Vision, Special Issue on Computer Vision for the Creative Industries , May 2020, doi: doi: 10.1049/iet-cvi.2019.0786 , arXiv: http://arxiv.org/abs/2009.00922