Virtual or Reality? 12 Amazing Angkor Wat 3D comparison photos

Angkor Wat 3D? Computer technology is quickly erasing the line between virtual and reality. You experienced it years ago in Star Wars, then in the blockbuster Avatar. Now 3D movies filled with virtual images are the norm. But those are only movies! One company actually puts you in the middle of the world’s most extraordinary places…and their Angkor Wat 3D views are identical to being there in person as these amazing comparison photos show.

Angkor Wat 3D: Look familiar? If you have ever visited Angkor Wat you stood right here, on the Cruciform Platform enterting the temple from the West.
Angkor Wat 3D: Look familiar? If you have ever visited Angkor Wat you stood right here, on the Cruciform Platform before entering the temple from the West. In the real photo at the bottom. NOTE the scaffold on the right side of the central tower, 20 stories above the Cambodian jungle and check out the images at the bottom of this article..

Siem Reap, Cambodia – If you’re lucky enough to travel to the jungles of Cambodia, the temple of Angkor Wat will take your breath away. Scientists are still speculating how an engineering feat of this magnitude was accomplished nearly 1,000 years ago. Then there’s the mystery of 1,780 angelic Khmer women portrayed in elaborate detail, dominating every level of the monument…

One company is using digital 3D technology to make Angkor Wat, and other extraordinary monuments around the world, as accessible as your home computer. Vizerra now offers virtual tours of Angkor Wat, Taj Mahal, Tatev Monastery and Old Town Square in Prague, with virtual visits to many other landmarks on the way.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about Angkor Wat 3D reality?

These images show Vizerra’s Angkor Wat 3D reality next to actual digital photos. I took them with a Pentax K20D digital camera using a Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 Aspherical Macro Lens (more appropriate for devata portraits). Naturally, perspective and depth of field will cause minor variations but the 3D renderings only few significant technical errors, noted below.

The point is that I captured the Angkor Wat 3D  images while “walking” around the virtual Angkor Wat that Vizerra built. The program has a handy image capture function built right in so you can save any view that you like. Vizerra plans to continue increasing  their level of detail, interactivity and information for each world heritage site that they digitize.

Can an ice cold virtual Angkor beer at the concession stands be far behind?

Angkor Wat-3D: This view greets you walking directly north from Angkor Wat's south gate.
Angkor Wat-3D: This view greets you walking directly north from Angkor Wat’s south gate. And the technical error? The 3D stairs in the outer perimeter wall appear slightly to the left, instead of to the right. A true mistake, or an illusion of photography? Email your photos to settle this question.
Angkor Wat 3D: View from the northwest, walking from the concession stands (I couldn't wait for them to invent the virtual ice cold Angkor beer. Sorry.))
Angkor Wat 3D: View from the northwest, walking from the concession stands (I actually couldn’t wait for Vizerra to invent the “virtual ice cold Angkor beer.” Sorry.)
Angkor Wat 3D: This view of Angkor Wat is looking East just north of the Cruciform Platform.
Angkor Wat 3D: This view of Angkor Wat is looking East just north of the Cruciform Platform.
Angkor Wat 3D: They began calling these structures "libraries" more than 100 years ago. No one knows what they really were. This structure is surrounded by 46 devata images.
Angkor Wat 3D: People began calling these buildings “libraries” more than 100 years ago. No one knows what they really were. This structure is surrounded by 46 devata images. The 3D rendering repairs the west portico, and seems to truncate the structure’s true shape.
Angkor Wat 3D: The view east from the platform of Angkor Wat's north "library."
Angkor Wat 3D: The view east from the platform of Angkor Wat’s north “library.”
Angkor Wat 3D: The temple of Angkor Wat is a study of balance in the universe. Therefore, there is also a south "library" and this is this view from its platform toward the east.
Angkor Wat 3D: The temple of Angkor Wat is a study of balance in the universe. Therefore, there is also a south “library” and this is this view from its platform toward the east. The south libary, however, only has 20 devata portraits. A work in progress, or a more exclusive club? Join the research and help us understand the truth.
Angkor Wat 3D: Climbing up from the Cruciform Galleries, you arrive at the second level of Angkor Wat facing east with the stairs to the highest level in front of you.
Angkor Wat 3D: Climbing up from the Cruciform Galleries, you arrive at the second level of Angkor Wat facing east with the stairs to the highest level in front of you. The Vizerra 3D rendering removes the unattractive restoration scaffolding to let visitors enjoy the entire structure.
Angkor Wat 3D: A dramatic view of the southwest tower of Angkor Wat's top level from the courtyard of the second level. The top level is surrounded by 201 devata on the outside walls.
Angkor Wat 3D: A dramatic view of the southwest tower of Angkor Wat’s top level from the courtyard of the second level. The top level is home to more than 400 devata. The outside walls are surrounded by 201 devata. Inside, there are 126 more, with 64 surrounding the holiest inner circle of the central tower itself. Dozens more, as yet not part of Devata.org’s inventor, grace the tower tops.

View from the Top of Angkor Wat

To me, this was the most extraordinary proof of Vizerra’s quality. In November 2009, a temporary restoration scaffold gave me access to a view that only a handful of people have seen in the past millenneum…a view that even even the mighty King Suryarvarman II who built this masterpiece had probably never witnessed.

Kent Davis unveiling "Angkor the Magnificent" by Titanic survivor Helen Churchill Candee at the top of Angkor Wat in November 2008.
Kent Davis unveiling “Angkor the Magnificent” by Titanic survivor Helen Churchill Candee at the top of Angkor Wat in November 2008.

I was briefly allowed access to unveil DatAsia’s newest historical publication Angkor the Magnificent, but I also took the time to snap a few photos of the panoramic view, twenty stories above the jungle. Imagine my surprise when Vizerra effortlessly took me to that same location to duplicate the architectural accuracy of that same priceless view!

The three comparison photos below show how close Viezerra’s virtual reality has come to the real experience.

So the question is…would you like to experience Angkor Wat? You can be there in just a few minutes.

Angkor Wat 3D: From the central tower this is the view to the southwest. Vizerra did not include the Buddhist temple that was later built just outside the perimeter walls of Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat 3D: From the central tower this is the view to the southwest. Vizerra did not include the Buddhist temple that was later built just outside the perimeter walls of Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat 3D: A spectacular view west-southwest from the top of the central tower at Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat 3D: A spectacular view west-southwest from the top of the central tower at Angkor Wat. The southwest tower of the quincunx is visible at left with the south library of the third level just visible behind the tower. Directly ahead, gazing over the Cruciform Galleries we see the exterior north and south libraries with the West Gopura, entry temple to Angkor Wat, in the distance.
Angkor Wat 3D: Northwest view from the top of Angkor Wat. Again, Vizerra did not recreate the modern Buddist temple or concession stands that now stand to the right of the reflecting pool.
Angkor Wat 3D: Northwest view from the top of Angkor Wat. Again, Vizerra did not recreate the modern Buddist temple or concession stands that now stand to the right of the reflecting pool.

Article and photos © Copyright 2009 Kent Davis – High resolution images are available for republication by educational organizations at no charge.

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