The Anna Karenina train car project was launched in the summer of 2017, as a collaboration between the Wellesley college Knapp Center, and professor Thomas Hodge. His research builds upon that of Vladimir Nabokov, another Wellesley professor famous for writing Lolita. Nabokov's research focused on the importance of place and fine detail in the Russian novel, Anna Karenina. With virtual reality, we are able to give today's students an experience which Nabokov could never have imagined -- the ability to explore a full re-creation of the setting of chapter 24 of the novel in virtual reality.
I single-handedly did all of the technical work on this project. When we started, I had some familiarity with Blender. This project required that I teach myself how to use both Maya and Unity. Each object within the train, from the lamps to the walls to the ivory paper knife, had to be modeled in Maya. Every texture (with the exception of one thermometer) was either generated in Unity, or drawn by hand. The dimensions and layout of the car are based on a single schematic, and each object within it is based on professor Hodge's research.
This project was funded by the Wellesley College Blended Learning Initiative, which invited Professor Hodge and I to speak at its Shifting (the) Boundaries symposium in the spring of 2018. It was first used as part of Professor Hodge's course, The Nineteenth Century Russian Classics in the Fall of 2018.