I’ve just about recovered from what has been a crazy but exciting week. I’ve been off all over the place doing bits and pieces; this is the first of three blog posts about it.
The beginning of last week (25th June I think) myself and Sam Griffiths went over to Knole in Sevenoaks to run a mornings workshop on Digital Building Recording techniques. This was one of a series of workshops volunteers were attending over the week as part of the Knole Unwrapped volunteering project.
We were slotted in between James Wright a Buildings Archaeologist from MOLA giving an introduction to traditional building survey and Matt Champion, of the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey, on Graffiti. This meant we were perfectly placed. Our activities for the volunteers gave them a hands-on experience of using a Total Station to record an elevation and an RTI setup to record graffiti.
Our day started with a short talk about the work that has been undertaken as part of the Elite Landscapes in South Eastern England Project and introduced the two techniques. I introduced the team to the methodology Penny Copeland and I used at Bodiam Castle, this is a Total Station connected directly to a laptop during data capture running TheoLT which links to AutoCAD allowing the recording to be visualised in real time. The advantages of this setup means that you can correct mistakes as you go. It also means that you make decisions about what you are recording while you are on site.
Total Station setup at Bodiam Castle
RTI stands for Reflectance Transformation Imaging. It is a recording technique which creates an image with interactive lighting. They are constructed from multiple images taken from the same position but under changing direction of illumination. The creation of RTI’s is very simple and requires little specialist equipment and the processing and viewing software is freely available online (Cultural Heritage Imaging). The process is very successful at highlighting changes in the surface’s shape and colour i.e. highlighting any present graffiti.
Sam doing RTI at the Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham
It was then time to have a go! We went out the Stable Court where we divided the group into two, half working with me on the Total Station and the other half using RTI to record graffiti with Sam. Both groups seemed to really enjoy both activities. I found it really interesting engaging with them over the use of the techniques and how they might apply to other projects.
Volunteers working with the RTI kit
Everyone getting involved with the Total Station
James from Mola I think summed up the workshop by saying he felt how this was one of the best methods with engaging with groups. By introducing people with an interest to how we record, why we record and what we use it for it feels like we can get much closer to a collaborative engagement with the building.
Unlike at Ightham Mote ornamentation on the architecture at Bodiam is virtually none existent. Despite the scale of the building and its presence in the landscape there is just one piece of decorated stonework remaining: a leafy boss.
Again unlike at Ightham it is not on display in an obvious entrance or public room, it is concealed in the on the right side of the gatehouse on the second floor. It is not in a room, but more of a passageway which only remarkable feature (other than the boss) is one of the new style gun loops. It is so concealed that few visitors notice it (and even so called experts *myself* spent a good morning wandering around looking at ceilings before I found it!).
Size of Room
It is curious that it is found in this location. As I have already stated at Ightham the majority of the ornamentation is on the public areas of the building. This area of Bodiam is so concealed it is not a display of ostentation as it is in other buildings. It is so concealed and so small we have to question why it is there. The room is tiny it could even be considered a corridor, its only feature is that the gun loop lighting it overlooks the gatehouse: which have been suggested as some kind of porters lodge use. The room itself is very dark even during the day, there is no space to sit in the room, or anything to do there except look out the gun loop. It required such a trained eye to find it it seems wasted here in this part of the building.
This first blog post I will use to quickly fill in the gaps of what I’ve said I’m aiming to do and what I’ve actually done.
I have been playing around with starting a blog for a while and I must admit it is more for me to keep track of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it than for anyone else. I think my aim is to keep my digital ideas categorized separately so those with a lot more experience can quickly skip over the pain staking things and only read the (hopefully) interesting results or ideas of what I’m doing.
So to begin I am about to embark on my first project of modelling the private chambers at Bodiam Castle. These can be seen in this image (thanks to Prof. Matthew Johnson for the photo)
To start on this I took part in a two week field season in April 2011. I worked with Penny Copeland, James Miles, Pete Wheeler and the Arch2024 students to produce the east elevation of the castle using a total station connected to AutoCAD using TheoLT.
This completed elevation I proceeded to import into 3ds max. I will be using the survey data as a guide to shape my model of the rooms. I am currently exploring different methods of building up the shape of the rooms (the position of the walls and their heights). I have tried using lines to draw around the edges and am also experimenting using Standard primitives and using them to create Pro-Boolean objects. I am also trying to begin to cut holes into these completed walls as I think this will help determine which option is better suited.
I have also been thinking about the issues associated with the data. The survey data is incredibly detailed because of this I am having a hard time making decisions about how closely I should follow it and also how to interpret a number of the lines. This has led to lots of discussion with Alice Watterson (http://digitaldirtvirtualpasts.wordpress.com/) about the process of reconstruction and how we can bridge the gap between our observation of the site today in the present, and our visualisation of the past. It has also led to me questioning how I can fill in the gaps of my data (where walls no longer exist) and how I can build this uncertainty into my visualizations.