My 3Ds Max experience began with the completion of a very basic straw in January which can be seen below. The time constraints of the masters programme have limited available time to practice, however, the major project began. The limited number of photographs available of the Whitworth monument and its incredible complexity led to a great number of challenges. However, the process of its completion resulted in a very enjoyable experience.
In the beginning, I decided to split the monument into layers, which included the base, middle support and top layer. The second step was to create a general look of the object using simple geometric shapes. This allowed me to critically think about the steps which needed to be taken. The base of the monument was the first call for action when I opened up 3Ds Max. My original research into the Whitworth monument was not as bountiful as first perceived. Using the only, slightly low-quality images, I began creating the base. I attempted to create a ratio using the best quality photograph and the monument generalised size across the town. 1/14th of 2 metres for every centimetre.
A simple box with small pillars surrounding it, I believed it would be the easiest step. I made a box shape which stretched out to a rectangle. The pillars surrounding the base began with a chamfer. The top of the cylinders were finished with a chamfer shape changed into an editable mesh, twisted using the twist modifier. A box was used again to create the next section of the monument. However, this part needed slightly more work to finish.
Originally, the next section of the monument was created using an upside down pyramid. However, I believed this might ruin the integrity of the object at a later date. As a result, I created a box shape to fit exactly at the top of the box, following on from that, I used a modifier to change the parameters slightly. I continued to work my way up the monument, attempting to define the monument shape. Fortunately, the main shapes of the monument proved reasonably simple to define. Further boxes, ranging in height and width were added to the monument before pyramids became a main shape. An addition of four thing pyramids surrounds the top square can be seen in the photograph below. A final pyramid at the top would complete the basic shape of the monument. However, there were a lot more hours put in to complete the project.
The attempt to add complexity now began. An attempt which proved to involve a lot of trial and error. Trial and error mixed with joy and a little bit of confusion. The first complicated section would now begin. Pillars and fountains. Marble like pillars can be seen at the side of the base. I realised These were completed using three shapes, a cylinder, torus and gegnon. The boolean operator was used to cut a square into each section, which can be seen below.
The important point here was to ensure the geometry of the original square was set before it was altered using the boolean compound object selection. The main parameters could not be changed easily after this process had been completed. The gegnon was used as the base and top of each pillar, angled properly and then copied for each pillar. The cylinders were completed in the same way with a smaller torus placed in the centre of each pillar.
The incredibly awkward drinking fountain would be next to complete. Unfortunately, I am still not happy with the overall view of the drinking fountain, but I believed it was still important to show on the monument. The main fountain trough was completed using a sphere. Another sphere was then made which could be used to subtract an area out of the first sphere. Using the boolean function, which I found very useful during my time using 3ds Max, however, I believe there may be a certain number of limitations using this function. This created a hole within the original sphere, a modifier, displace, then altered the shape of the trough. Bronze plates can be seen in some of the original photos of the monument. These were created using a simple cylinder shape and attaching them to the base. A complicated section completed.
The next section would prove to add difficulty, although there were some duplicates from the original base. I used small squares to add a sense of relief around the rectangle, this was to ensure a lifelike reconstruction. The boolean operator was used again at this point, although I was still not fully sure of its consequences.
Thankfully, I was able to copy my work on the pillars from the original base and use them for this section. However, a different type of intrusion had to be completed on the rectangular block. I yet again used a boolean operator, which seemed to be my saving grace during this project. Firstly, cutting in a rectangular block in the middle and afterwards a cylinder in an attempt to copy the picture correctly.
The smaller design which surrounded this rectangular block were very difficult. In the end, I had to suffice with using a bend modifier on a square block. I don’t believe this looks perfect, but I attempted a variety of different shapes and modifiers. The spires were an easy section to add detail. I started by adding spherical shapes to the smaller pyramids, which would later be seen during the full render. The main spire had a cross added to the top by simply attaching two rectangles to each other using the attached within the compound object list. Spheres were added to the top of the smaller pyramids, however, the proved very troublesome. I attempt to cut out a quarter of the faces and then bend each one to try and replicate the design. The result is similar to the photographs, however, it is difficult to be sure due to the low quality.
At the beginning of the Masters course in Digital Humanities, I enrolled in Digital Scholarly Editions. At that early stage I was unsure as to its full meaning, however as the year has continued, I have grown more comfortable with the term. The first semester focused primarily on the idea of Digital Scholarly Editions and their worth, as well as their contribution to academia and the technologies involved. Thankfully, defining Digital Scholarly Editions is an easier task than defining Digital Humanities as a whole. A technical description of Digital Scholarly Editions as hierarchy ordered down from a text, involving a number of digital apparatuses (http://www.academia.edu/214152/Theorizing_the_Digital_Scholarly_Edition). After I began the Digital Scholarly Edition, the above definition became clearer and more understandable. The most interesting part of the module began in the second semester. The class was arranged into a team involved in the creation of a Digital Scholarly Edition on the war diaries of Albert Woodman, a signaler in World War 1. The task seemed daunting at first; this blog post will briefly discuss the process over the last four month.
The team were fortunate to have an experienced team manager in Shane McGarry. At a very early stage, he ensured that we all knew our roles and objectives, constantly kept in touch and assisted in completing tasks using software management tools, which proved helpful. Meetings were held weekly which ensured that the whole team understood the project as a whole. The involvement of a good team manager is a must have when creating a DSE owing to the wide range of abilities needed for successful completion of the project. A team of researchers may all be able to delegate tasks successfully; and software developers would all have experience in their field. However, the production of this DSE brought together people from varying fields. Students of history, literature, computer science and design were brought together. The manager was able to delegate particular tasks to the team members that were suited to their individual strengths while also affording them opportunities for the acquisition of further knowledge. The module allowed for students previously inexperienced with XML encoding to encode a full month of the diary, in some cases even more.
The transformation of print material to a digital medium is one which takes an incredible amount of work. The diaries themselves had to be photographed to a high standard. Transcriptions had to be checked and edited to ensure that encoding could take place at a later date. This is another important point not mentioned as of yet, the system works in successive forms. An objective must be completed before the next stage can be tackled. The use of successive forms was retained throughout the encoding stages whereby transcriptions, named entities and annotations had to be completed before the encoding could be fully finished.
My main objectives, named entities, required a lot of work at the early stages of the project. At the beginning I had to decide upon the material to be included in named entities. The general rule is to include persons, places and organisations. However, certain projects include temporal settings such as times of the day. I deemed this to be unnecessary unless we want to map his travels very precisely, which ended up being overly ambitious for the scope of the project. The diary had been transcribed into two separate word documents, Wilson and Butterfly as per his own diaries. The original work took place on these documents. I devised my own work plan regarding the material. I read through the documents and inserted the tags, ‘place’, ‘name’ or ‘organisation’ after any key terms. A quick search in the document handler allowed me to quickly access the material. At this point I created a spreadsheet to ensure efficient storage of the relevant data.
The creation of a digital scholarly edition allows for a lot of extra material. It is this material which seems the most interesting and exciting at the beginning of any project. As a result, the need to set boundaries is important. The team would have liked to complete as much as possible although the timeframe did not allow for this. The use of digital mapping was a very interesting tool. Albert Woodman included maps of the areas in which he was stationed and we were able to map these onto modern day maps. It is this kind of material which is missing from print editions. The extra information surrounding the project allows for a greater context and offers a certain amount of personal enjoyment for a user. The idea of the Digital Scholarly Edition is to sufficiently captivate the user so that they will use the diary to the best of its potential. I believe supplementary material is one of the most important facets when stimulating user interest.
The description of the named entities began after compiling was complete. This was a process which varied in length between the different sections involved. Places and organisations proved to be the easier sections. Names offered up a lot of discussion during meetings and took time to fully research. The project needed a strong foundation, as it was to be placed online. Historians are often critical of online sources in relation to academia. As a result, assurances had to be made that a full bibliographical list was kept of the main sources which were used during the project.
In conclusion, although the project is not fully completed as of yet, it has the structure to be a very successful project. The team has worked together using knowledge from varying fields to ensure a well rounded Digital Scholarly Edition. As any project nears completion, it is usual to contemplate on improvements that might have been made. The Digital Scholarly Edition of Albert Woodman’s diaries will be completed within the time frame we set out, but I think everyone in the project would have approached the project differently if given more time. The additional material which has been mentioned previously in the blog post is one of these aspects. The opportunity to add even more material surrounding the diary would have been great. However, time constraints and workloads of the MA and PhD courses kept us from breaching the boundaries of safe optimism.
The capturing of the baptismal font proved to be the most difficult part of the project, but also held incredible worth. The font, an original part of an ancient church has been placed within this semi modern church. It is thought to be from a church oh John Street Drogheda and dates circa 1100 A.D. The Old Drogheda Historical Society held it in their collection until 2011. The design on the font is incredible, apart from its main shape, a stand and the bathing area itself. It has intricately designed and engraved representations of Jesus and his stories, specifically sacrament stories. I believed it would be of great worth to capture these images and allow Saint Mary’s Church access to the files.
Significant difficulties were found when trying to complete the capturing of the photos. One clear problem from the beginning was gaining access. Although Father Joe is a very forward thinking and pleasant priest, presenting no problems actually doing the model, the church is not always open. Between masses and other ceremonies the time to complete the capturing grew shorter and shorter. The lighting proved to be a greater problem, placed directly inside from a stained glass window, the recent good weather gave me certain problems.
When the actual capturing began the problems continued to grow. Originally behind a red rope, to stop vandalism, I had completed one set of photographs from behind it. The model I completed can be seen below, only representing the engravings. A strong lack of detail and presence, however it represented the engravings well which gave me hope for the remainder of the project. Father Joe informed me it would be fine to remove the rope and take my photographs, however issues remained with the non movable aspect of the font. Pews affected the capturing from one side and a marble wall the other. The changing materials on the font was another issue. The top of the font is wooden and proved to shine a lot, but the stone was fine in any light, perhaps slightly too dark at times. The font had been used the same day as the final capturing which meant the wooden top was not present. Underneath this top was a modern ceramic top with painted writing. This top was incredibly shiny and raised the difficulty even further. However, the capturing was complete using the same Photoscan techniques mentioned in a previous blog, with some differences. The magic wand could not be used because there was not a strongly uniform background to the images. This meant using primarily the rectangular selection to get rid of the larger panels of unneeded space and the intelligent scissors to remove the more fine details. The shiny nature of the top and the shadows found from underneath the main bowel ensured more masking.
The one advantage at this part of the project was experience. At the final stage of the model I had captured 215 images, a far stretch from the 100 which I had captured previously. This was to ensure that any results would not be affected by the capturing process. A process which could not be improved at a later date. The final model can be seen below. Problems occurred with the top of the font which has been mentioned previously. Although, the image is photorealistic the only problem was computer power. My laptop could not operate the processes at full power. In future, the use of a more powerful machine, possibly the An Foras Feasa computers, could have produced a better model overall.
The idea of authenticity and truth is an important on in cultural heritage. The question becomes even more integral when discussing the production and representation of three dimensional models.
The megalithic stones in Louth County Museum Dundalk have already been altered in their lifetime. Firstly, been used as regular standing stones and then taken and used in souterrains in Newtownbalregan and Tateetra. The stones have a history of their own. A history which will be adapted once again through the representation of the stones as 3D models.
Many questions arise when discussing truth and recreations of the past. To the point where even the phrases used are constantly debated. The idea of recreation and representation are linked directly adaption and access. All key phrases in the cultural heritage and museum industries. Museums are becoming more modern, including greater digital techniques and promoting projects such as the virtual presenter in Dundalk County Museum. This adaptation allows for greater access to the public. Public interest and access are two of the most important aspects for a modern museum. Projects such as the three dimensional recording of these megalithic stones attempt to increase access and as a result increase interest for museums. The stones will be presented online for users to discover, critique and evaluate using the presented models and surrounding tools.
It is this discovery which is a huge step forward for museums. Instead of pondering ideas for advertisements and waiting for see the next visitor, museums can undertake digital projects with institutions. It is these projects which enhance the reputation of a museum for free, an important factor for fringe museums who receive less funding than larger institutions.
The post processing of the images has been a success. This involved ensuring the brightness levels were accurate and the shadows on the stones were OK. To increase accuracy I have kept a spreadsheet of the information. Left column designating the image, further columns mentioning and image alterations, which masks used etc. I plan to keep these in versions to keep a progress of my workings.
I have begun to process the images within Agisoft Photoscan. I have used the intelligent scissors to cut out unneeded section from the images. This includes areas of increased shade and non model related backgrounds.
A problem has occurred with the power needed to produce the models. Instead of using my personal laptop I will have to use the An Foras Feasa computers to ensure a complete model. This represents problems of travel and cost. The general methodology of photogrammetry includes the aligning of photographs, the creation of wire meshes, models and adding texture.After completing the capturing of the images of the stones one major problem arose. Missing one side if the stones.
Reflectance transformation imagery will be a very challenging aspect of the practicum. Having no previous experience completing these steps it will be quite an intricate step in this practicum. The idea of authenticity and truth arises from these logical steps. A further truth may be found which can excel the history of these objects.
Reflectance transformation imagery will be a very challenging aspect of the practicum. Having no previous experience completing these steps it will be quite an intricate objective in this practicum. The idea of authenticity and truth arises from these logical steps. A further truth may be found which can excel the history of these objects. The physical material on the stones, which may not be visible, are a key element to their history.
In conclusion, the project has been an overall success. However, there are some changes I would make if encountering this task again. The quality of images could have been improved by using different settings on the camera during capturing. I believe the brightness and focus could have been altered in certain images. The set up of the workplace including the lightbox meant that the light didn’t have to be changed the majority of the time. However, after my experience in Louth County Museum I would have focused more on these settings. I lacked the necessary attention to the detail during the capturing stage.
The experience within St Mary’s church proved to be more useful. As a result of the previous experience in the Archaeological Museum I ensured further attention to detail. Instead of the maximum 91 images I used during the pot model I had a larger collection of 215 images. I captured more images at more angles which allowed for greater precision using the Photoscan software.
The experience was a very worthwhile one which gave me great knowledge of working alongside a museum. If opportunities arose in the future to do further work using Photogrammetry in museums, I would be keen to be involved in the process. St Mary’s church has also been a brilliant experience. It is great to see the interest and happiness the extension of a historical monument can give to an institution.
The process of using Agisoft Photoscan proved to be a reasonably difficult feat. Overall, I have completed a total of six different models. All of which had problems and issues to overcome.
The general workflow, after downloading the pictures, will now be discussed. After capturing around one hundred photographs I opened each to critique if any editing was needed before importing into Photoscan. The photos in terms of brightness and shadows seemed to be fine, however a few photographs had problems with focus. A mistake I would not be able to correct post processing. An important lesson was learned at this point, to ensure that photos are in focus during the capturing stage. Although we had the remote control of the Canon using Shane’s laptop, I had not ensured continual quality in a small amount of the photos.
The post processing complete, which became a time for reflection rather than editing, I transferred the images into Photoscan. Another problem occurred as I could not use RAW images, only JPEG’s were importing to the software. At this stage I had confidence that the model would still remain photorealistic. The photos are now placed in the gridview below the main Photoscan panel, as seen below.
The first time creating the model I focused on using the magic wand as a masking tool. Opening each image into the main window, a single click allowed the magic wand to remove any obscure parts of the image, in this case the white area surrounding the pot. The image below shows the area designated by the magic wand. Although it seems to cover most of the image problems still arose.
A severe problem was found here in the form of an assumption. The assumption that the magic wand would suffice for the production of the model. It proved false, as I will show in an image below. The assumption wasted valuable time, the mesh cloud and points take time to complete. Further work in masking parts of the image had begun. Use was made of the rectangular selection tool and intelligent scissors. This allowed for a more precise look at the model. The image below illustrates the rectangular section in use.
This tool proves useful when there are large chunks which need to be deleted from an image. However, when a more precise deletion is needed the intelligent scissors prove to be the best tool. This allows for a user to select points which map around the object, ensuring that the first and the last point match, as seen below.
After all these steps had been completed, the workflow was completed. Finishing the dense cloud and mesh was part of this process. My laptop power only allowed for medium settings to be completed at this point. But, the outcome would not change hugely. Importantly, an error occurred at this point with missing parts of the bowl and essentially some floating sections found outside the main shape. Although the sections on the outside of the model could easily be deleted using the Photoscan cutting tool, it could not fix the missing pot sections.
I attempted to rectify this by finding the images which had not been completed correctly. A simple zoom out function allowed for this to be possible. However after many attempts I concluded that the images used was the main problem.
The texture selections found within Photoscan are interesting, allowing for greater detail and different viewings. However, the generic setting is perhaps the easiest to complete and looks suitable.
The final product of the archaeological pot was a disappoint with regard to the original thoughts of the project. The conclusion to be found here was to be more precise during the early stages of the project. Mistakes had been made with the capturing of the images which could not be improved at a later stage.
The use of Autodesk 123d Catch proved to be an easier process. The software only allows for 70 images to be used. These images were automatically uploaded and rendered using the software. The software does allow for a series of post processing once the model has been completed, these include squares and line selects. These allow for deletion and further processing. The mesh can be changed after the original one has been completed. The choices range from mobile, standard and maximum depending on the power of a computer. Video functions are also available with uploads to youtube and the possibility to save to desktop.It has to be said that the user interface of this software is a lot more accessible than Agisoft Photoscan. The primary screen is shown below.
The result of the model can be seen below. Although the majority of the model can be seen and there are no holes present, like the first model there are still remaining problems. It shows that the inside of the pot was not captured properly, meaning there is a hole on the inside of the pot. Yet again the software used to complete photogrammetry has proven that mistakes were made during the capturing process which could not be rectified at a later date.
The Bronze Age pots found in the Irish archaeology museum hold a very interesting history. The process of photogrammetry used for the capturing of my own Bronze Age pot was a method specific practice.
The bronze pot was placed within a lightbox. LED lights were placed at three points surrounding the item. Photogrammetry needs equal light on all parts of the object to ensure no shadows or shininess. The box was placed on a table ensuring that height became a problem for the practice. The larger LED light, which used a larger tripod, looked down from the top of the object. Chairs had to be used on either side of the lightbox to ensure the surrounding light. Balance becomes quite important here because the lights cannot move during the process of photogrammetry, otherwise the data will be corrupted because the common points cannot be found.
The bronze pot was placed on a rotating table allowing for easy use of the Canon 60D on the tripod. Instead of moving around the object, like one would do with a larger object, the item could be spun using the table and photos then captured. The pot had to be turned each time, ever so slightly and the photo captured.
Importantly, the curator at the museum had to flip the pot to its other side. This was to ensure that the inside and bottom of the pot was captured evenly to ensure a full model.
The inside of the pot would prove to be the most difficult to capture. As the pot was rotating and the angles of capturing had changed it became clearer that the inside of the pot was being captured correctly.
The National Archaeology Museum was very accommodating of our work with the Bronze Age pots. We were given access to a large activity room for the photogrammetry and it proved to be very suitable. The curators ensured that we had all relevant information by providing books and short lectures. It was this surrounding information which helped the completion of the project as a whole. The 3D visualization in Cultural Heritage is a fast growing field. The adaption of cultural heritage institutions to these new digital techniques allows for greater visualizations of the past.
Working in cultural heritage institutions eludes to fountains of knowledge. Although a specialist topic was being completed in the museum. The extra information provided by the institution itself extends the knowledge of any person involved in the projects. The Bronze Age pots which were used during this project have a strong history. Originally found near Castlefinn, County Donegal, they are now found at the National Archaeological museum.The specific bowl used for myself was a simple bowl with an inverted rim. Comb impressions are found on the inside of the rim with a similar motif surrounding the outside of the bowl. The rest of the bowl is decorated with simple lines and triangles.
The experience gained while working with the museum will prove useful in future career paths. The completion of the MA in Digital Humanities opens up avenues of employment which cater greatly to cultural heritage. Inter and intra personal skills were improved. We also experienced important advancement of photography skills, including setting up a workspace and focusing clear capturing.
The fragile nature of the bronze pots meant that the only possible movement for the students was rotation using a turntable. When the bottom of the pot had to be captured a museum worker would help. The accommodating nature of the cultural heritage workers continued throughout the day with consistent support and frequent updates.