Stonehenge for everyone – through 3D and AR
In 2021 Martin Edström was assigned by National Geographic Magazine (NGM) to make a complete 3D-model replica of Stonehenge. So together with the IVAR Studios team, he captured over 7000 images to recreate this historic landmark site using a process called photogrammetry.
The 3D-model has since then been converted to an Augmented Reality (AR) experience, launched on the National Geographic instagram account – making it possible for everyone to visit Stonehenge from the comfort of their living room, garden or in a public space.
Since then, the Stonehenge AR filter has been shortlisted for several awards and won 1st place in Pictures of the Year International 2023 as part of the larger magazine publication.
You can also read NGM’s Letter from the editor about the process.
A highly detailed capture process
Martin and his team used a process called photogrammetry to recreate Stonhenge as a 3D-model. This process relies on a large input of images, the dataset, that is feed to a computing algorithm that can calculate point-clouds and 3D-data from the source images.
All of these rocks have to be photographed, from every possible angle, to recreate a high detail 3D model in the end. So before heading to the field, the team made a fully choreographed photo list – including both high-resolution mirrorless cameras used on the ground and drone camera to cover the top of Stonehenge.
Post-production of 3D-model
After photographing the source images in the field, the team produced a high-resolution model as well as a much smaller variant that could be used in smartphone applications. The 3D-models were later crafted into a full AR-experience that published on the National Geographic instagram account.
IVAR Studios handled the full photogrammetry and reality capture post-production process for Stonehenge 3D. This entailed everything from data asset management, source image curation and dataset preparation to the actual 3D conversion process.
After building a large-resolution model in 3D, resulting in hundreds of millions of polygons, we also worked with retopology to simplify and minimize the model to a more manageable size.
The end result was a full archive-size 3D model as well as a minimalistic and web-optimized version for use in a smartphone AR filter for social media (link opens to instagram).
The Stonehenge 3D team
Martin Edström, Director
Oliver Akermo, Photographer
Paul Joy, Drone pilot
Martin Edström, Director
Carl-Fredrik Zell, 3D Artist
For National Geographic Magazine
Kaitlyn Mullin, Director
Veda Shastri, Producer
The Stonehenge management team
More 3D and immersive projects
Also take a look at Martin’s other Immersive projects, using 360-video, VR and AR to tell important stories.