I was very fortunate to be given the chance to work on the pre-cursor to HeritageTogether while finishing off my PhD. My first bit of not-quite-post-doctoral research was for Jonathan Roberts at Bangor University, who had this wonderful project to find out whether the images contained in historical archives could be used to make 3D reconstructed models (AHRC-funded “Alternative Views of the Lost Heritage of Gwynedd”).
Using a rather awesome piece of off-the-shelf software called Agisoft Photoscan, the photographs go in one end, are statistically analysed for matching points, aligned and scaled with respect to each other, and are put out the other end as a sparse point cloud. Once you’ve got that point cloud, you follow Agisoft’s workflow to eventually produce a 3D model, textured by your original photos. Obviously the success is hugely dependent on the input, but thats what we were looking into. It turns out that most of the time, archives don’t have enough photos, and/or they’re not taken in the right way. The key part is overlap – if there isn’t enough of an overlap between your photos, they cannot be matched up, and the whole system falls at the first hurdle. More on this in the paper: Historical records, archives and photogrammetry.
HeritageTogether itself (AHRC-funded “Co-Production of Alternative Views of Lost Heritage of Gwynedd”) was a follow-on to this where we reached out to the general public for photos, rather than using existing ones. We set the crowd a challenge to source us photos to model some of the megalithic monuments of Wales, and frankly, they did not disappoint! We even ended up with models of different kinds of sites, some from outside of Wales.
By now, I was just about to finish my PhD, and because HeritageTogether was a big collaboration between Bangor, Aberystwyth, and Manchester Metropolitan Universities, I was able to take a proper PDRA position at Aberystwyth University. My role was to work closely with my counterpart in Bangor on developing the computer systems behind the project, in all shapes and forms, this meant I got to work on a variety of things. We set up a web server to host the project website, including a place to upload photographs, and a place to display the models. This time, we went for an open-source approach, using a behind-the-scenes workflow to process photos which had been uploaded (see this paper for more info). I worked on applications for a touch table, engagement activities, an android app, and many more things, some of which are in this paper about the project: Alternative Representations of 3D-Reconstructed Heritage Data.
See HeritageTogether here: http://heritagetogether.org
Helen C Miles, Andrew T Wilson, Frédéric Labrosse, Bernard Tiddeman, Jonathan C Roberts, “A Community-Built Virtual Heritage Collection.” In Transactions on Computational Science XXVI, pp. 91-110. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2016.
Andrew T Wilson, Helen C Miles, Frédéric Labrosse, Bernard Tiddeman, Jonathan C Roberts, “Historical records, archives and photogrammetry,” The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice 7 (1), 25-42, 2016.
Helen C Miles, Andrew T Wilson, Frédéric Labrosse, Bernard Tiddeman, Seren Griffiths, Ben Edwards, Panagiotis D Ritsos, Joseph W Mearman, Katharina Möller, Raimund Karl, Jonathan C Roberts, “Alternative Representations of 3D-Reconstructed Heritage Data,” Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH), 9(1), 2016.
Seren Griffiths, Ben Edwards, Andrew Wilson, Raimund Karl, Fred Labrosse, Emily LaTrobe-Bateman, Helen Miles, Katharina Moeller, Jonathan Roberts, Bernie Tiddeman, “Small Works, Big Stories. Methodological approaches to photogrammetry through crowd-sourcing experiences,” Internet Archaeology 40, 2015.
Seren Griffiths, Ben Edwards, Raimund Karl, Fred Labrosse, Helen Miles, Katharina Moeller, Jonathan Roberts, Bernie Tiddeman, Andrew Wilson, “Crowd-sourcing archaeological research: HeritageTogether digital public archaeology in practice,” Internet Archaeology 40, 2015.
Panagiotis D Ritsos, Andrew T Wilson, Helen C Miles, Lee F Williams, Bernard Tiddeman, Frédéric Labrosse, Seren Griffiths, Ben Edwards, Katharina Möller, Raimund Karl, Jonathan C Roberts. “Community-driven generation of 3D and augmented web content for archaeology,” Eurographics Workshop on Graphics and Cultural Heritage, 2014.
Helen C Miles, Andrew T Wilson, Frédéric Labrosse, Bernard Tiddeman, Seren Griffiths, Ben Edwards, Katharina Möller, Raimund Karl, Jonathan C Roberts, “Crowd-Sourced Digitisation of Cultural Heritage Assets,” IEEE International Conference on Cyberworlds (CW), 2014.
Helen C Miles, Andrew T Wilson, Frédéric Labrosse, Jonathan C Roberts, Bernard Tiddeman, “A Web Community for Digitising Cultural Heritage Assets,” Computer Graphics & Visual Computing (CGVC), 2014.
Raimund Karl, Jonathan Roberts, Andrew Wilson, Katharina Möller, Helen C Miles, Ben Edwards, Bernard Tiddeman, Frédéric Labrosse, Emily La Trobe-Bateman, “Picture This! Community-Led Production of Alternative Views of the Heritage of Gwynedd,” Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage, 1(1), pp. 23-36, 2014.