Cultural Heritage Imaging


Reconnaissance. Scouting. Preparation. by marlinlum
June 22, 2012, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Commentary, On Location, Workshops | Tags: , , , ,

Reconnaissance. Scouting. Preparation.

Marlin Lum here. Imaging Director at Cultural Heritage Imaging. This blog entry inspired by Mark Christal, strong man and multi-media super genius employed by the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) at the Mall in Washington DC. It’s part of his professional game to find out as much as possibly about a topic and then present it to the public via modern visual technology. Go to the National Museum of the American Indian and check out what they are putting out in the world, really good stuff.

River Bed Pano

panorama photograph: scouting for rock art in a river bed

Mark is a graduate of CHI’s 4-Day RTI Training and a NCPTT Workshop participant where he not only refined his skills in RTI capture but also learned about photogrammetry. Aside from being a respected technologist and dedicated vegan, he is also an enthusiast of ancient Rock Art. (no- not album covers). Native American rock art.

Taking his Panorama and RTI capture skills in the field, (meaning a 14 mile mountain bike route, hot weather, lots of photo gear on back), Mark and his crew (also (former) NMAI super genius Video Master, Kevin Cartwright) entered the wilderness on a reconnaissance mission. Mission: to locate a petroglyph, shoot a Pano and scout it for future RTI capture.

I also have to mention, as stated by Mark, ‘that the park ranger had never heard of this (culture) site’. Mark and Kevin only found it after actively looking/hunting, and having followed a good tip from a kayaker. According to Mark, ‘this might be the only known on-site rock art in Maryland’. Mark goes on to say that, “The only other site (Bald Friar) was dynamited in the 20’s because it was about to be flooded.  Parts of that site are now spread across the state in a number of museums and culture centers”. Uhmm. Can you say, ‘sense of urgency’, get out there and document people!

A long time ago I used to work in Hollywood where I knew a location scout. It was his job to discover everything, everything about that location and bring that information back to the unit. His checklist asked questions like: Where is this on the map? What direction does it face? Where is the afternoon sun? Can I get a crew here? Do I need extension cords? Whats the scale of the artwork? What lens do I need? Is my tripod in dirt or water? Who’s land is this? What’s the deal with the roaming horned bull? (true story btw). And where is the crew bathroom?

You get my point. The more you know about your subject (and its owners {past and present}, the better). A thorough knowledge base about what exactly you intend to RTI is essential for creating a successful final product. It’s like anything else, knowing what equipment you’re gonna need (and what you don’t want to carry {or bike} for 14 miles) is gonna make or break it (your back that is).

Hollywood crews might research and setup a shot for months, only to have the actor whisper his lines in 40 seconds.

I will draw a conclusion to this blog and just point you to the large JPEG that Mark Christal email me from his Recon mission into the hot sun. (For those of you shooting in the comfort of a photo lab, you will have your chance.)

Mark’s Recon Pano gives us a glimpse into the beauty, the full shade during full sun, the water level during that time of year, the artwork and the scale (note calibration stick). And for those of you who are curious, yes, this location IS top secret, so, no use in hacking or looking. One last thought, shoot a capture when the water is running low.

Scout and be happy!

check out the flat pano image here on Flickr! Click on the Hi-Res image – can *you find the rock art? (look for the calibration stick)

Go directly to a large the jpeg: http://www.flickr.com/photos/markchristal/3938203809/sizes/o/in/photostream/



Free IMLS Sponsored 4-Day RTI Training Sessions by marlinlum
March 23, 2011, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Training, Uncategorized, Workshops

“21st-Century Museum Professionals Grant Program”

Institute of Museum and Library Services
National Leadership Grant Project

Thanks to a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services 21st Century Museum Professionals program, CHI is pleased to present a series of FREE training sessions in Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), graciously hosted by the following institutions:

Worcester Art Museum: July 11-14, 2011

San Francisco Museum of Art: Aug 15-18, 2011
Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute: Mar 5-8, 2012
Indianapolis Museum of Art: Sept 10-13, 2012

Learn More. Space is Limited. Apply NOW.

http://www.c-h-i.org/21st_MP_apply/index.html

 



VAST 2010 at the Ecole du Louvre, Paris by marlinlum
October 4, 2010, 7:54 pm
Filed under: Commentary, Conferences, On Location, Technology, Workshops

The Virutal Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (VAST) conference was great for us, and we are still enjoying being in Paris. This is a small focused conference with usually about 100 people in attendance. We put together a full day tutorial at the start of the conference with some of our favorite collaborators, and it was great to get this group together in person. We covered a lot of ground in a day with a nice mix of practical and theoretical material.

Carla setting up a demo during the tutorial

The rest of the conference was really good. I always enjoy the chance to catch up with various colleagues and friends, meet new folks working in this field, and see what other folks are up to. VAST is usually more on the computer science side of things, but there were a number of museum folks as well as archaeologists in attendance. There are always lively and sometimes controversial discussions, and this year lived up to that standard. Of great interest to me were the papers and discussions around how digital representations can track and reflect their true digital provenance from acquisition through to the finished process.

Mark and Carla in front of the Ecole du Louvre - site for the conference

I particularly appreciated a discussion with Holly Rushmeier from Yale University about what we mean by accuracy, high resolution, and quality in general? In particular what is even measurable, and how should we be measuring and recording it? Holly agreed that this is an area that needs some attention, and it will take the work of multiple institutions working together to come to any guidelines.

Having a chance to talk to Martin Doerr about mapping the digital provenance data to the CIDOC CRM always requires having your thinking cap on, but it’s so worth it. There were many other great people in attendance, interesting papers, and good food, wine and conversation. I look forward to next year when VAST is combined with VSMM (International Society on Virtual Systems and Multi-Media) in Alexandria, Egypt.



Imaging Paper Squeezes With RTI at the Smithsonian by cwillen

By Guest Blogger E. Keats Webb

I mentioned briefly last month some of the objects that we have been using Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) on here at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI).  One project involved paper “squeezes,” paper pulp molds made from the surfaces of ancient monuments at archaeological sites.

In some cases these “squeezes” are primary resources containing rare intellectual and physical information from monuments that have deteriorated or sites that no longer exist.  Unfortunately, the fragility of the paper minimizes accessibility of these objects to researchers and scholars. This makes them great candidates for non-destructive documentation of the 3-D characteristics of their surfaces with the RTI method.

Senior Conservator, Melvin Wachowiak, and I worked with the conservators from a Smithsonian museum, imaging a couple of examples of paper squeezes to see what the RTI method might contribute in terms of preservation and research.

Since the squeezes are molds taken from stone inscriptions, the writing is reversed.  After the image acquisition we “flipped” the images using imaging software, and then processed the files so that the final RTI product could be a legible rectified document for researchers to study.

We found that the RTI method increases legibility through the combination of raking light features and the specular enhancement option while also creating a surrogate that can be more extensively “handled” by researchers and scholars. (See images below.)

We continue to use RTI on a daily basis and look forward to sharing more with you about how the method is helping the scientists and conservators within MCI and the Smithsonian for the research and preservation of the collections.

paper_normal_lite

Detail of Paper Squeeze with Normal Light Position

 

Paper with raking light

Detail of Paper Squeeze with Raking Light

 

Paper with specular enhancement

Detail of Paper Squeeze with Specular Enhancement



RTI @ the Museum Conservation Institute by cdschroer

By Guest Blogger  E. Keats Webb

Over the past three months I have been interning with Senior Conservator, Melvin Wachowiak, at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) exploring advanced imaging techniques for research and preservation of the collections focusing mostly on the Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) method.  We started in September with an African leather shoulder bag, the RTI enhancing the faint tooling and degradation on the surface. In October we imaged a writing slate from the 1600s found in an archeological excavation of a well at the site of Jamestown, Virginia.  RTI proved an excellent tool in interpreting the drawings and writings that are found on both surfaces of the slate and at all orientations.  Other types of objects that we have explored include paper “squeezes” (molds taken from stone inscriptions), oil paintings, a jawbone, ebony and ivory inlaid cabinet doors and a daguerreotype.  We work alongside scientists and conservators on a daily basis at the Museum Conservation Institute, and RTI complements the studies happening within our labs along with other advanced imaging techniques used for research and preservation.

Set-up for the RTI of the Jamestown Slate.

E. Keats Webb left, Melvin Wachowiak right; Photo: Charles Durfor



CHI’s National Park Service Workshop by cdschroer

By Carla Schroer

The National Park Service’s National Center For Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) workshop was a great opportunity for the instructors as well as the participants. First, Mark and I got to spend a couple of days with Tom Noble and Neffra Matthews (from the Bureau of Land Management) prior to the workshop.

Tom and Neffra are extremely knowledgeable photogrammetry experts with lots of field experience. They also keep up with what’s going on in that field in terms of new products, and new features in existing products. They are a tremendous resource, and happy to share their knowledge. CHI welcomes any future opportunities to work with them again.

The next opportunity for me as an instructor was to hear from folks that participated about their own experiences in the field. A few had tried reflectance transformation imaging (RTI), others photogrammetry, others laser scanning, and all had done photographs and drawings (or been part of projects that did that).

The workshop afforded opportunities to discuss practical issues in the field, as well as get an understanding of some of the challenges people face, and what they are willing to do to overcome the challenges. The group worked well together, shared ideas readily, and asked good questions. I think we all got a lot out of the interaction. It wasn’t just instructors passing knowledge to students, and I really appreciated that aspect of it.

It was also fantastic that we had a range of people with a wide variety of  experiences participating. Having Professor James Davis from the University of California, Santa Cruz attend the full workshop was really valuable, because he could hear directly the issues people face, and share his perspectives as a computer scientist.

James has worked with RTI for some years, and is also well versed in a range of computer graphics techniques, including laser scanning, structured light scanning, and other forms of capturing 3D geometry. He was really interested in the challenges in the field, and what takes the most time and is the most painful about the capture process, always thinking about ways he might be able to remove some of the time consuming parts.

Overall the experience was lively, interactive, open, and fun, but we made serious progress, too. I think it added a lot to have folks staying at the Presidio and getting to know each other in the evenings. Several people mentioned how the opportunity for them was in not only getting access to the technical information, but interacting with other participants.

I think that no matter how good we get at training people with web- based materials, there will always be a place for human interaction and sharing. It was a rich experience, and I truly thank everyone involved for participating fully.

NCPTT-Workshop-Grp-Photo



Cultural Heritage Imaging’s RTI Training at the Smithsonian Institution by cdschroer
July 17, 2009, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Technology, Workshops | Tags: , , ,

–Mark Christal, NMAI Multimedia Coordinator

Teachers have an old adage about the best way to learn something is to teach it. My colleague, Kevin Cartwright, and I had that concern about Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), because the National Museum of the American Indian had joined the NPCTT grant with the role of assisting with the production of educational materials on RTI and Photogrammetry techniques. Fortunately, we got the opportunity to learn RTI in a four-day workshop on June 8-11 at the Smithsonian Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland, under the tutelage of Carla Schoer and Mark Mudge. CHI photographer Marlin Lum came to document the training and lend his own expertise to the classes. Michael Ashley arrived on the on the third day to talk about the new techniques for managing metadata.

The CHI instructors and staff were brought to Washington, DC by Carolyn McClellan, who is a relatively new Assistant Director at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) heading up the Community and Constituent Services department. Carolyn first learned of CHI when she was working at the Bureau of Land Management. She participated in the digital documentation of rock art at Legend Rock in Montana. The project utilized close range photogrammerty techniques under the direction of BLM staffers Nefra Matthews and Tom Noble. Carla and Mark directed the RTI captures of some of the same features. These four experts will be teaming up again in the upcoming NPCTT training session at the Presidio in San Francisco on July 23-24.

We had contracted for a 12-seat class from CHI, and a variety of specialists at the Smithsonian attended. In addition to myself, Carolyn and Kevin, community liaisons Robert Alexander and Caleb Strickland and four photographers from the NMAI photo services department headed by Cynthia Frankenberg participated. Melvin Wachowiak, a conservator from the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institution, attended with great interest. A recent intern of Mel’s, Rebecca Mendelshon, joined the training, too. We had two attendees from Smithsonian Exhibits Central, Vince Rossi and Adam Metallo, who have a keen interest in digital modeling.

NMAI conservator Emily Kaplan proved to be a very important contributor to the class. Emily is qualified to handle NMAI collections, so she was able to bring in the museum RTI subjects that are a focus of current research or being prepared for upcoming exhibits. These included Mississippian copper pieces, Mayan jades, a decorative Mayan carved panel, an Aztec stone carving, and several Incan qeros (ceremonial goblets). Emily was very excited to utilize RTI imagery on the qeros, because they have been a research focus of hers for nearly 10 years.

The workshop went extremely well, and all participants received a through grounding in RTI concepts and techniques. The experience well informed Kevin and I for our Friday session of shooting an educational clip on RTI capture. We brainstormed the approach with Michael Ashley, and we decided to write up a shot list that closely followed the “Guide to Highlight RTI Image Capture” document developed by Carla and Mark. By doing so, the instructional video and document would reinforce each other. Mark and I became the “talent” for the shoot, with Mark moving the camera strobe to each hemispheric position while I played the role of string master who assures that each lighting is done from the correct distance and angle. Carla triggered each shot in the sequence from a laptop that communicated with the camera. Kevin was our videographer and Michael read out each shot on our shot list to provide a slate for the editing tasks. We hope that the experience of creating this short educational video clip will help CHI document other aspects of RTI creation.

ncptt_diy_video_MG_0818




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