Longhouse 2.0 started as a joint project between Dr. Neal Ferris at Sustainable Archaeology (SA) and theskonkworks (SKW) to explore the possibilities of developing a mass scanning pipeline for 3D artifacts in the summer of 2012. Working with Namir Ahmed, a Master’s student in Archaeology at UWO and someone with previous animation and archaeology expertise, this project was one of the first MITACS granted research initiatives to combine industry and archaeological research needs. The project was two fold in its application; to work with animation students who understood the technology but not the content and to use existing Film & Television techniques to develop a mass scanning pipeline.
The project recruited 10 Loyalist College Animation Program Co-Op students to intern at Sustainable Archaeology for a 14 week period. The students were all in their last year of studies and as such had a good working knowledge of 3D animation techniques, tools and basic pipelines. SA provided the equipment which consisted of several variants of professional 3D scanners and SKW provide production management, pipeline expertise and 3D animation equipment and software.
The research team proved to be highly successful in not only being able to demonstrate that Archaeologists and Animators could effectively and quickly work together on very complex systems and data, but that the SA facility when properly provisioned, could easily scan over 100 artifacts per week. The pipeline itself consisted of developing protocols for tools specific to the artifacts sizes, complexity and surface quality as well a the practical application of data acquisition, lighting, mesh integration and texture mapping. 3D3 solutions, a technology supplier, produced a case study which outlined the process (case-study-SAAU-3D3Solutions-final).
This study proved to be quite valuable in understanding the scanning needs of artifacts and how to both manage the data and the expectations and limitations of the technology. Our research also spawned a paper for World Archaeology entitled Sustainable archaeology through progressive assembly 3D digitization. However, prior to starting our 3D scanning pipeline research, the students started warming up with an ancillary project in which they would apply standard Film & TV development techniques to replicated a longhouse in rendered 3D space, which became the start of the phenomenological gaming research into user engagement within extant archaeological landscapes. Thus Longhouse 2.1 began as an exercise to engage the students within the archaeological record.