History Comes Alive


Part of the research exhibit will visualize the pre-historic saber-toothed tiger's natural history in Florida for the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale. 3D Design by Richie Christian, 2019-20.

History Comes Alive

Game Technology Converges with Film and Animation to Create Interactive Experiences

Imagine coming face-to-face with Harriet Tubman; or how about interacting with a prehistoric saber-toothed tiger.

Christopher “Topher” Maraffi, MFA, and his students are resurrecting vanished moments in history inside new interactive exhibits using a combination of traditional and emerging media technologies.

“We want to make visitors feel as if they are really experiencing and interacting with past environments,” said Maraffi, assistant professor of multimedia production in the Film, Video and New Media program in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters.

Maraffi, who also teaches graduate courses in the Media, Technology, and Entertainment master’s of fine arts program, was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Project for the Public grant, and an Epic Games Megagrant. Through this research, he is developing a multi-format project on the history of the first Freedman’s town in the United States during the Civil War at the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park on Hilton Head Island, S.C. This transmedia project, called “Historic Mitchelville AR Tour: Stories of Emancipation and Freedom,” will consist of a site-specific augmented reality (AR) tour application, a portable AR museum installation and a 360-degree interactive website.

The FAU research team is collaborating with preservation groups and others to design the exhibits for the Mitchelville Augmented Reality (AR) Tour Project. The tour app will dramatize scenes of critical events during the Reconstruction era with important historical figures such as Harriet Tubman and Robert Smalls. Mitchelville is at the center of the story of resistance and survival among the Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina Sea Islands.

“We’re modeling these life-sized, virtual historical characters who will be able to interact in scenes with visitors,” he said.

Research teams, led by graduate students, are creating design and production pipelines with game engines and advanced media technologies to develop interactive exhibits based on content provided by experts such as historians, scientists and theatrical performers.

For more information, visit tophermaraffi.com.

If you would like more information, please contact us at dorcommunications@fau.edu.