Using QuickTime VR in Computer-Assisted Instruction of Gross Anatomy: Yorick the VR Skull

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Conference Proceeding

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QuickTime VR is a software technology which creates, on a normal computer screen, the illusion of holding and turning a three–dimensional object. QTVR is a practical photo–realistic virtual reality technology which is easily implemented on any current personal computer or via the Internet with no special hardware requirements. We reasoned that QTVR can provide a more realistic presentation of anatomical structure than two dimensional atlas pictures and allow observation of specimens outside the dissection lab. We created QTVR objects from various anatomical specimens, including the skull, which we have incorporated into a self–learning program. To obtain images, the bones of the skull were mounted on a rotating table, while a digital camera was positioned on a swinging arm so that the focal point remained co–incident with the rotational center of the object as the camera was panned through a vertical arc. Digital images were captured at intervals of 10° rotation of the object (horizontal pan). The camera was then swung through an arc with additional horizontal pan sequences taken at 10° intervals of vertical pan. The images were edited to place the object on a solid black background, then assembled into a linear QuickTime movie using Adobe Premier. The linear movie was processed with Apple’s QTVR development tools to yield a QTVR object movie which can be manipulated on vertical and horizontal axes using the mouse. QTVR movies were incorporated into an interactive environment, created with Macromedia Director, which provided labeling, links to text–based information and self–testing capabilities. The accompanying demonstration shows the resulting QTVR–based program Yorick: the VR Skull during development, the program was used in our medical gross anatomy course. Student feedback by survey indicated that QTVR–based programs are an effective learning tool.


Presented at the 15th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, Lexington, KY.