New site & blog at www.artasmedia.com!

Today the new site for ArtasMedia was launched. A while back I said that work was being done to bring more information about the projects I have been working on to the wider public and for a long time I was unsure about how to really go about doing this. I decided that rather than having a separate personal and work blog, I would create a platform that would allow me to both put forward a portfolio and then provide further information about the work at the same time. Because of the new site this blog will soon be closing down to consolidate everything in the same place, but fear not! There will be much more content on the new site and information will be posted at a frequent pace. I want all of the projects that have already been completed to be finished and available as soon as possible. So, if you are currently following this blog, please take a look at http://www.artasmedia.com and if you still wish to know about the work, continue following at the new location!

Sea Venture and QAM

It’s been a while since I have added anything to my blog, a lot of this is mostly down to my time being incredibly hectic, but hopefully by Christmas, things will all calm down to the point I can begin to think about revamping my site and blog. Anyone that has been watching will have been able to tell that I have been changing themes a lot over the last few weeks, this is in anticipation of a lot of work going into http://www.artasmedia.com and this wordpress over the next few months. So, what am I working on at the moment that is taking my time away from posting?

Firstly I have been working on getting both video content and reconstructive models ready for the release of the Sea Venture documentary, a promo of which can be seen here. This work is with Look Bermuda and Jon Adams.

Some of my progress on the ship modelling and detailing can be seen below.

Sea Venture WIP

I have also been out doing work in Abu Dhabi in association with Barker Langham, HQCreative and Spiral at the site of Qasr Al Muwaji. This is going to be work that will facilitate the interactive experience at the on site visitors center.

All things Vray

Just a small post today, whilst I play catch up with the many different things I need to get done over the next month or so, I have animations to finish, blogs to write and projects to round up before a wave of work.

Over the last 2-3 weeks I have been immersing myself into VRay and I am slowly getting more confident with it. I have been reading about it’s nuts and bolts and testing repeatedly. Hopefully within the next few weeks I should have some nice stills and animations to show for it.

The point of this post is to make anyone that isn’t aware already about a few of the more interesting things out there on the net that can make your VRay experience easier. The first of these is a wonderful article by Toni Bratincevic, which whilst confusing at first goes a long way to helping new users on their way to understanding exactly how the renderer operates.

The second is a very useful tool put together by Akin Bilgic, which allows people to see the maths of the above article in action, combining both of these tools really helps you to start getting your head around the way the sampling works, it definitely helped me test things.

And finally the last thing I think I should mention (For the moment anyway) Is the Embree plugin for VRay which can be found on this page. If you haven’t already included this into your workflow then please do, it sped my scenes up dramatically especially when using just the environment tab for HDRI lighting. You need to make sure you are setting up your geometry type to static though as it doesn’t work well with Depth of Field/Motion Blur etc, so if you want to be using those effects in work accelerated by Embree make sure you do it in post.

*You will need to make sure you have an Intel CPU (SSE & AVX) to make use of the advances in speed though, you will also need to check what type you have to make sure you select the correct Embree addition. You can find more information on that here. It is also worth mentioning that Embree is set up for the Monte Carlo Ray-tracing, so that is where you will see the most improvement (Which is great for moving animation anyway).

Well that’s all for today, I appreciate I have not held up my promise to blog more yet, but it is coming, I am simply trying to get the content ready to blog about first.

Protect Your Work

So, my post today isn’t necessarily about my work, it is more of a wider concern and something I think we need to make more visible. This is definitely a situation that needs to be remedied and a lot of his views line up with my own opinions. I was going to write a big blog post about something like this in relation to the current situation, but he said a lot of things better than I could through text.

ArtasMedia and the Urban Cloud

So, for those of you that don’t know, my company ArtasMedia has recently gone live. Over the next few months I will be working on developing contacts within the archaeological (and commercial) world to try and get some momentum going for the shift from contracted to self-employed work. I recently headed to Hawaii to attend the Society for American Archaeology conference and so hopefully lots of contacts I made out there will develop.

ArtasMediaLogo02

In other news, one of the reasons I have been quiet in the past few months has been because I have been super busy working on a viral video for a new up and coming website based company called Urban Cloud. I was tasked with creating the environment, motion tracking and box animations. You can catch the video below. The final animation was created for Quintessentially TV and the final breakdown of participants can be seen below.

Creative Director – Chris Charalambous. Music – Nick Byrne, Main camera tracking and Boxes – Grant Cox, Animation and Editing etc – myself. Film shoot production -Poppy Tullo. Model – Jordan Lee  

Rome Presentation and other thoughts

I have just finished my presentations at the British School of Rome and after talking about transparency and opening up the process to evaluation it has dawned on me that my blogging has been very few and far between over the last year. This will be changing and this post is a very open example of that. Very shortly my website will be finished for my company and to celebrate that release I will be analysing this blog and working on the areas that are currently under loved. I think that so far I have not been good enough at communicating my thought processes that influence my technical work.

Recently I had a friend from Turkey email me about 3D in archaeology and he asked me if working with archaeological material that you are not familliar with makes your work superficial. My opinion on this is that trying to achieve a very high level in graphics, let alone applying it to a theoretical series of sites/periods is a very difficult task and there is going to be a very steep learning curve. Becoming ‘proficient’ and then moving on from that and taking your work to the next level is also a big difference in time investment. Not everyone wishes to be a photorealistic visualiser, some only want to use 3D as a way of analysing space and as a research driven tool to aid in the discussion of theoretical approaches, so a complex spectrum of time investment and split focuses begins to appear when you consider what your ambitions are.

For me personally, I have chosen to aim for a very technical general level, which requires constant revison and learning of new software as well as keeping up to date with practices and techniques. It is very difficult to apply this to archaeology without the help of other people and I don’t think that there is any shame in being open with your work. Ironically I think that the issue with 3D in archaeology is that for too long people have viewed those that implement it as inherently scientific, or upon a pedastal of knowledge. For me that isn’t the case at all. I think it is necessary to make it very clear when your knowledge is lacking and to integrate into this process people who you can truly rely upon to provide you with up to date research and insights that you cannot shoulder on your own.

I have been working on a multitude of different sites, periods and artifacts and it is not feasible to be an expert on everything and I think that it isn’t efficient to be trying to expect to be if your goal is to produce very high quality imagery that requires intense time investment. Working alongside other people in a transparent process for me is very important and it is why this year I will be putting more and more time into not just documenting what I do, but also why and how. What I take from my background in archaeology isn’t the expectation that I should become controlling over the research that goes into my models, instead I look to apply the general analytical processes to each project I am involved in.

I think in conclusion it becomes much easier to work out where you should be theoretically and technically once you work out what it is you want from your use of any technical tool. Once you have established that and realize that not only can you be open about your questions, but that in fact the communication and the process is actually very important in itself, it becomes very liberating to be able to say “I don’t know”. Part of creating models in the first place is to visualise and develop intepretations in a new way and to think in different concepts and these are often uncertain.

The Staffordshire Hoard Helmet: Update 1

So, it’s already half way through January, which is pretty scary. I have made a resolution to clean up this blog, place much more information about my work and the content behind my models as well as making a lot more of my thought processes open and accessible to people who are interested.

One of the things I am going to be focusing on (Portus aside) in my spare time (HA!), is the Staffordshire Hoard Helmet. With all the new flying around regarding new finds it is heavily in the news at the moment and so the time seems right to go back, evaluate where it is at, look at some more of the findings/correspond with people and on top of producing some lovely stills get a nice animation finished.

One of my bugbears about the model up to date has been that it falls apart when you look too closely at it. I have therefore decided that it is about time I added a sculpting tool to my belt and have cracked open Mudbox to try and bring more depth into the model. So far here is my progress after a few days of playing around with it:

Cheekpiece

CheekPieceTest

Test2

I think it’s a promising start. The real advantages won’t be properly seen until the pieces are animated in the model. Then the difference that a program like Mudbox can make to a model can really be seen. I have also been revisiting the photo archive on the Staffordshire Hoard website to see if I can ascertain any new information about the existing pieces. One thing I will definitely be including in this update will be the ribbed wire objects that they have found as well as the tabs.

Rome’s Lost Empire

Image

(Recent render completed by me to accompany the program)

Just a reminder for anyone that hasn’t seen it yet, Rome’s Lost Empire is available on Iplayer until the 16th of December. It features the result of collaborative work between myself and the BBC team based in Wales. You can find the documentary here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01pc063/Romes_Lost_Empire/

As well as follow up information from by Graeme Earl of Southampton University here:

http://www.portusproject.org/