9.2 Reuse in animation software

As noted above, among the various digital formats prepared there is a fully textured, meshed OBJ form. The OBJ format is widely used in the visualisation and animation communities. The Hampson (and Amarna) OBJs were prepared with attention to object dimension, triangle count and structure and surface normals to facilitate future use. As a result it is quite straightforward to download one of these objects and immediately import it into various animation/visualisation software workflows. As an illustration we provide the workflow that is used to include the digital object in a pre-existing visualisation. In this case the visualisation was created using the Vue 9 commercial software (E-on Software). Similar workflows would apply to other animation/visualisation software (e.g. Blender, Studio 3DS, SoftImage, etc.).

Importing the Hampson or Amarna digital objects into Vue is a straightforward process because of the OBJ file format availability. No conversion software or special import plugins are necessary. In Vue the user only needs to navigate to File>Import Object and then browse to the OBJ file. Under Import Options, leave all options blank. For visualisation purposes, it is suggested the low-resolution object be imported. Differences in the appearance of the object are negligible between the two, which will save on file size in Vue. Objects imported from the Hampson Museum use the metric system. Under File>Options, select the Units and Coordinates tab, for the Default display unit select Metric and for each Vue unit select Millimeters then check Apply new settings to current scene. Vue can be used to manipulate, scale, and alter the object and render it with full colour and control of light, including reflection properties, source direction.

Figure 15a Figure 15b

Figure 15 (a and b): Visualisation showing digital object from the Hampson Museum used in context. Note vessel on mat in lower right in Figure 15b, absent in 15a.

Video 6: Digital object in animation (this video contains no sound)

Video 6 shows the same images in a fully rendered animation, providing a better sense of the object in its actual 3-D context. The wireframe screen capture (Figure 16) creates a setting that can provide the technical context in which an object citation/provenance system can be developed.

Figure 16

Figure 16: Wireframe showing the various digital objects used to create the final visualisation shown in Figure 15.

The wireframe shows clearly that the final high-quality image is composed of a number of primitive objects. Each of the objects in heritage visualisations should be linked to the prior digital object or the other source (e.g. text document) that provides the basis for the object's characteristics. In the case of Figure 16, the Hampson vessel is a digital object inserted in the wireframe. The other elements are original graphic elements that were derived from ethnographic sources and similar scholarly resources. For example, the creation of the ramada structure was based on descriptions available online and from early historic photographs. We argue here that in heritage visualisations each element should have such individual scholarly provenance. Unfortunately many commercial and open-source tools for visualisation do not, currently, readily permit the linkage of provenance data to each element. Increasingly, however, software developers are creating linkages between visualisation systems and databases for their own development purposes. It will be a relatively easy step to adapt these tools to scholarly purposes as well. As an excellent example we would note the Digital Pompeii Project developed by Fredrick and his associates (Cole et al. 2010). In this exciting project they have created detailed 3-D representations of structures in Pompeii and placed the recorded frescos, mosaics and other materials in their proper 3-D space. They then utilise the Unity game engine to provide an interactive navigation of this space. Of particular interest to this discussion, however, is that they have used tools in the Unity game engine to link the 3-D surfaces and objects dynamically to a comprehensive scholarly database. As a result it is possible to move about the villa and click on any object or surface and be provided with a full scholarly documentation of the object, its provenance and literature. The materials can be explored on the Digital Pompeii website.

More complete worked examples of scholarly provenance of digital visualisation

Beyond the scanning and dissemination of digital objects an additional component of the Hampson project was the development of a series of visualisations and extensive text describing the village and its surroundings in order to provide a context to the objects using the ideas discussed above. A number of the visualisations from the site area are available.

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