Located at the Vatican City in Rome, Italy, the Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo’s magnum opus; the chapel’s painted ceiling, which includes the famous ‘Creation of Adam’ along with hundreds of other works which form an epic mural, is a cornerstone of Renaissance artwork. A painstaking virtual recreation of the Sistine Chapel is now available for free on Steam, offering an incredible up-close view of the works along with an hour of guided audio commentary.

IL DIVINO: Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in VR is now available for free on Steam, accessible in both VR headsets and flat monitors. The project is the brainchild of Epic Games’ Lead Technical Animator Chris Evans, and is said to be the culmination of a passion project spanning 15 years. A spokesperson for the project says that Evans’ goal is to democratize access to the beauty and history of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

The VR experience details every square inch of the Sistine Chapel and offers users an hour of deeply researched audio commentary which covers the history of the masterpiece along with expansive commentary of the overarching themes, individual pieces, and even the scaffolding that Michelangelo specially designed to more easily paint the ceiling. Viewers can even get a better-than-real-life perspective by stepping atop a virtual lift to see the artwork up close.

A spokesperson for the project says that Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in VR contains some 90 4K texture maps, compiled and corrected from high resolution photographs, with enough detail for viewers to see details down to individual brush strokes and cracked plaster.

Image courtesy Chris Evans

The team behind the project detailed some of the technical work that went into its creation, including the challenges of correcting and reprojecting the texture maps onto the 3D geometry with high detail, as well as color correcting the maps which were compiled from disparate source imagery.

A spokesperson for the project says that Evans’ plans to update Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in VR over time and bring the project to other VR platforms.

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  • The Bard

    CE from Crytek?

    • benz145

      Yes I believe that’s him.

  • Penn Apcs

    Every time I see something like this I think about all of the people who can’t travel for one reason or another. For some people who could never visit the Sistine Chapel, to be able to get so close to the experience of being there would be priceless. The crazy thing is that most of them don’t even know that VR exists yet.

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  • The Bard

    The app is really nice, especially the ability to go up and inspect from close distance. I would prefer free movement – rotation with touchpad/joystick. Currently it forces certain rotation in different places, which is annoying. I was hoping to be able to see the whole ceiling, not just 2/3 of it. Anyway, good initiative and nice app.

  • Charles

    Why only 90Hz on an Index? The 120Hz refresh rate is the only standout feature of the Index that makes it a contender for “arguably the best headset”. 90Hz makes it nothing special.

    • Immersive Computing

      With index (like most PCVR headset) it’s a trade off – by lowering frame rate to 90hz I can massively increase supersampling – with obvious benefits to image quality.

      For an application like this which does not have fast (active gaming) movement, frame rate is less important.

      Regarding Index, it’s a combination of several factors, rather than being able to run at 120hz (and also 144hz) that make it the leading PCVR headset.

      • Mike

        Oh, I see. I would imagine that with a 2080Ti you would be able to max out supersampling on this program (as needed) without reducing the frame rate.

        Personally, after owning 9 VR headsets, I think the best is the Odyssey+ if one doesn’t care about 120Hz and does care about contrast and black levels. I find LCD screens drab and non-immersive.

        • Immersive Computing

          I’ve just been using the application at 90hz this morning. Hitting 500% supersampling yielded 0.1% reprojection and 0 dropped frames.

          Really impressive in headset, but highlighted Index’s glare problem.

          Have you tried index yet? The LCD is a big step up from the screens on the non-Samsung WMR

  • starchaser28

    I love that this isn’t just photogrametry, but fully 3D modeled. I was just in Vatican City 6 weeks ago and walked through the miles of hallways filled with amazing art Including the Sistine chapel. Very impressive recreation! These are my favorite use-case apps for VR right now and would love to see more of them, especially in multiplayer for use in the classroom.