Developing Advanced Technologies for the Imaging of Cultural Heritage Objects
Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant Project
This project was funded in 2006 and completed in 2010.
In Fall 2006, Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) and researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) earned special recognition: a prestigious National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in the US. Only 37 of the 183 institutions submitting applications obtained grants.
In this project, USC, CHI, and Hewlett-Packard Labs have extended Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to provide three-dimensional (3D), multiple-view RTIs of cultural objects. Multiview RTI enables the creation of digital objects that can be interactively inspected using rotation and zooming and relighted from different viewpoints. New viewing software will make this technology readily accessible to museum professionals, scholars, and the interested public and enable interaction with the three-dimensional representations of cultural heritage objects.
One of the benefits of multiview RTI is the use of photographic technology and digital imaging processing, allowing museums to produce interactive images with powerful new information and without significant changes to personnel, skill levels, or professional working cultures.
- Developed working prototype multiview RTI capture software
- Developed RTI capture hardware, with integrated camera, lighting, and rotational stage for objects
- Developed new file formats for single-view and multi-view RTI that support this technology into the future
- Created a new mathematical algorithm for generating RTIs from an image sequence based on hemispherical harmonics that has greater accuracy than previous RTI methods and better represents shiny material
- Performed fundamental research on the use of “optical flow” to interpolate between RTI viewpoints
- Created a new RTI viewer with new enhancement functions, designed to distribute high-resolution RTIs over the web
- Defined process history documentation needed to meet scholarly and archive needs of generated representations
- Defined a semantic mapping of process history elements to the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) Conceptual Reference Model (CRM)
The project resulted in freely available tools and training materials for dissemination to the broader museum community.
Partners and Contributors
The project includes a USC team consisting of the Archaeological Research Collection (an active USC teaching museum), the West Semitic Research Project and the InscriptiFact internet image database. Dr. Bruce Zuckerman is the principal investigator for this project and leads the West Semitic Research Project.
CHI has enlisted experts around the world to make its vision a reality. By working with experts in different areas, we can deliver solutions that are low-cost and immediately effective for museum professionals and archaeologists.