We are thrilled to announce the release of the RTIVewer 1.1 software!
This update release includes the most asked for features in the RTIVIewer. As with prior versions, this is free, open source software. We have been working with it for a while, and we are excited to get this out to everyone in the RTI community. I am most excited about surfacing all the numerical settings data within the interface. Of course those numbers were in the software, but you couldn’t see them or work with them directly. The new bookmarks and snapshots features take advantage of and keep track of these settings for you. Read more about all of the new features and how to use them in the updated User Guide.
For those interested in the back story, here is how this release came about.
We had a tiny amount of money in a 21st Century Museum Professionals grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to pay for some software updates. We really wanted to add the support for normal visualizations, as that is incredibly useful both as a visualization of the surface normal data and as a way to compare the calculated normals over time, or across related data sets. We also heard over and over again that folks wanted to be able to get back to specific views in their RTI file. A significant amount of preliminary work for a bookmarks feature had been done by Leif Isaksen of the University of Southampton. We picked up his work (with his volunteer help) and expanded it to include interface updates and also to save these details with snapshots.
We were able to procure the development services of Ron Bourret, a senior developer who was willing to do some part time work at a very discounted rate. When the money for the project ran out, Ron volunteered his services to complete it. We also had volunteer help from Gianpaolo Palma, of the Visual Computing Lab in Pisa. Gianpaolo was one of the principal developers of the original version of RTIViewer. Then we had some testers, and time from the CHI staff to oversee it all, test it, prepare material for the documentation, etc. To complete things, the fabulous tech writer, Judy Bogart, stepped in and updated the user guide, as a volunteer. We had hoped to ship the release earlier in the year, but once it became a volunteer project, the work had to be fit in around other things people were doing, like travel and paid commitments.
While we are totally happy with and proud of the result, we know that the process can run faster and more efficiently when we have funding. Adequate funding is essential in these releases, even when we get incredible volunteer support.
If you use RTI tools, or if you think they are valuable – please support our efforts. We suggest a donation of $50 per year for users of the tools and services, like the CHIForums. We are a small independent nonprofit organization and we rely on donations to help support this work. We appreciate all donations, in any amount.
We accept donations any time, and right now through December 31, 2013 is our annual giving campaign. If you are in the US, your contribution is tax deductible. Thank you for your consideration
Filed under: Commentary
Adam Rabinowitz’s Blog Post “The Work of Archaeology in the Age of Digital Surrogacy” is a brilliant thought provoking piece, and I couldn’t resist reposting here.
At CHI we have been wrestling with issues of scientific imaging and process history and what it means to be a digital surrogate for many years. As a classicist, Adam shows us that these issues aren’t new and that reproductions and surrogates and the issues surrounding them for scholarly inquiry go back millennia.
Thanks Adam, for a thought provoking piece!
Guest Blogger: Sarah M. Duffy Ph.D.
Serendipitously while completing my Master’s in Historic Preservation at University of Texas at Austin, I met Carla Schroer and Mark Mudge of Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) at the 9th Annual US/ICOMOS International Symposium being held in San Francisco in 2006 where they were demonstrating the application of an innovative recording technique based on a mysterious shiny black ball. I was utterly amazed by the results they were able to achieve using a flexible, inexpensive recording approach they called Highlight-RTI (H-RTI). Corresponding with Cultural Heritage Imaging further after the conference, I decided to incorporate the technique as a major component of my graduate research at an ancient Ukrainian site called Chersonesos (2007). Having only seen their demo, I relied heavily on their electronic support during my first RTI test runs, successfully producing a set of images suitable for creating a Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) after a couple of trials. In 2008, I was able to attend a CHI RTI training class at the Tauric Preserve of Ancient Chersonesos in Ukraine, that was supported by the University of Texas at Austin.
I took those early experiences with RTI into my PhD research in the Archaeology Department at University of York which more broadly examines the application of digital recording techniques within the archaeological process of investigation. Although RTI is not my focus, I continue to explore its advantages, most especially in terms of how the approach enables specialists to advance the understanding of the recorded archaeological resource. While completing my doctoral work, I was asked to produce guidance on RTI by English Heritage (the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England).
Accordingly, Multi-light Imaging for Heritage Applications was launched at the Digital Heritage 2013: Interfaces with the Past conference held at the University of York, United Kingdom on 6th July. The publication aims to offer user-friendly guidelines and advice for using the H-RTI capture method. Alternative RTI capture methods are also introduced so that readers are able to decide which capture method is most appropriate for their recording project. Several case studies demonstrate how the technology can be used to better understand the cultural heritage we record and provide solutions to some of the common challenges encountered while using this recording approach. Quick reference tips are provided throughout the document as well as links to useful publications and websites, such as the principal sources for the freely available processing software (Cultural Heritage Imaging and Hewlett Packard Labs). Contributors include Paul Bryan, Graeme Earl, Gareth Beale, Hembo Pagi and Eleni Kotoula.
The publication is freely available through English Heritage.
Filed under: News
I want to take a moment to thank outgoing board member, Tim Lindholm. Tim served on the CHI board from its inception in 2002 and has been an enormous help to us over the years. In addition to being a constant source of good questions and good advice on the board, Tim designed the electronics and power systems of CHI’s early automatic dome systems. Tim is an engineer’s engineer, one of those rare folks who can translate between the geekiest geek and the least technical PR, marketing or legal person. A true gift. Tim’s love of daguerreotypes and of historical documents and archives makes him care deeply about our work. We will miss him on the board, but he promises to remain a supporter and advisor to CHI.
During the month of May we had the pleasure of doing more imaging work with Rock Art . This has included shooting some Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and some photogrammetry sequences at a couple of different sites. More importantly, we have had a chance to present some of this work to folks researching and recording rock art. We presented a workshop at theIFRAO conference in Albuquerque a couple of weeks ago. This was our first time attending the international conference. We were able to go to papers on all aspects of rock art research from all over the world. One of the things I love about rock art is that there are some things we just can’t know particularly about the older material where we don’t have living descendants from the culture to help us understand it. I find joy in that mystery.
One thing that is really clear is that rock art sites all over the planet are at risk and a lot of rock art is being lost every year. This is due to a wide range of factors from vandalism, to development, to earthquakes, to flooding and fires, to things as simple as natural rock falls. Part of our mission at CHI is to get tools to document these sites into the hands of folks who care about them. It is increasingly clear to me that teaching people how to capture the photographic image sequences that will allow the generation of full 3 D models, could really help us have records for future generations, and could provide a baseline of the current state of sites that would help monitor the changing conditions. The great thing about this approach is that it just takes a digital camera (and a monopod helps) and a bit of training about how to take the images in order to ensure complete coverage and high quality results. There are a number of different commercial packages available, and also some open source efforts, and the great thing is that how you capture the images is the same no matter where you want to process the images to get high quality 3D. We are now working on developing photogrammetry training for folks working in archaeology, historic sites, rock art sites, and related fields. Even if the data isn’t all processed in the short term, archiving the photographs that are properly collected will mean that anyone can create the 3D models in the future. To be clear, I don’t think anything takes the place of being in an actual site, and that it is critically important to protect and preserve these sites. But, given the fragility of these places, and also the inaccessibility of many of them, we should be gathering as much high quality data as we can as inexpensively as we can for ourselves and for future generations.
Filed under: Commentary
In the summer of 2012 I lost a dear friend of more than 20 years to lung cancer. Debbie’s and my friendship began in the workplace in the late 80′s, and blossomed into so much more. We hadn’t worked together in more than 20 years, and yet we stayed in close contact and got together for regular dinners every couple of months. Debbie was a remarkable person in many ways, but if you asked her what the most important thing she ever did was, she would say being a mom to Katie. After Debbie’s passing, I was touched when Katie told me she had selected Cultural Heritage Imaging as her mom’s favorite charity and one she would ask Debbie’s friends and colleagues to support in her honor. I was genuinely moved when her colleagues at PG&E and other friends raised more than $1500 in her honor. Wow!
Debbie was a long time supporter of CHI making an end of year donation every year in varying amounts depending on what she could afford. She was also someone who provided moral support, by gently encouraging me to keep going, even when the work and the fundraising felt overwhelming. She told me me how important she thought CHI’s mission was, and she especially liked that we were helping others create lasting records of cultural heritage materials that would be around for her daughter and someday maybe her as yet unborn grandkids. I miss her.
This week we are rolling out CHI’s new free forums for the community of people who are developing and adopting Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and related computational photography. We have had the idea to do this for some time, and after trying a couple of different forum software packages, getting input from friends, and tinkering with some of the forums setup, we are now ready to invite the larger community. Join us! Sign up for a forums account now: go to http://forums.culturalheritageimaging.org and click the link “Sign In” in the upper right of the window to begin setting up your new account. You can look at content in the forums without an account, but a free account is required to post there (this is to keep the spammers at bay).
As our RTI training has expanded, and more people are adopting RTI, we are frequently asked how users can see what other people are doing with the technology, and whether CHI offers a place to find answers when difficulties arise. We know many people want to keep up with the latest news on software releases, equipment, and related topics. Our forums were created to answer these needs. We hope to see the RTI community help each other and share their experiences and insights.
I’d like to say thank-you to those who made this new forums service possible. First, thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) because we were able to use a little funding from our 21st Century Museum Professionals grant to get the forums going. This grant, which has enabled 10 4-day training sessions in RTI — we just finished the 9th one this month — has also helped us support updates to our software, user guides, and other materials associated with the adoption and use of RTI at museums and libraries. Sarah Ross did a fine job installing and setting up the forum software for us! The team at CHI has already added content to get the forum going and answered questions that have come in. We have had a great group of beta testers who tried this out, posted content, and gave us feedback.
We hope that you, members of our community, will engage in the forums, asking and answering questions to help each other. This is just the beginning; we plan to expand the forums to cover additional topics as the need arises. Please write to us and let us know what you want from the forums: what will make them the truly useful for you? Send your comments or questions in an email to: forums at culturalheritageimaging.org