“We do not do that anymore” The Future of the Graphics Profession in Archaeology

Posted on August 17, 2015

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Another great session from the CIfA conference:

Organiser(s): Steve Allen, York Archaeological Trust & CIfA Graphic Archaeology Group

In the (not so) recent past, it was fairly easy to divide graphics professionals into ‘Illustrators’ or ‘Surveyors’- with a degree of overlap when it came to preparing the final images for publication!

The way that the graphics field of our profession has changed in the last 20 years means that this is no longer the case. It is no longer possible for any individual practitioner to be fully proficient in each and every aspect of archaeological graphics. Yet far from de-skilling individual practitioners, this ought to mean that individual skills should be gaining in value and recognised as a specialist contribution to the project team and the eventual project goal. This is where our future as part of the profession should be heading.

This session aims to explore this collaboration and showcase good practice and teamwork from the point of view of the graphics specialist. It will highlight recent developments in technology, the interaction with traditional skills, the training we are likely to require -and the attitudes we need to change to get there. Case studies will show how this has been put into practice elsewhere and point towards how we can apply this within our own working environment.

“We Do Not Do That Any More”: The future of the graphics profession in Archaeology- Introduction

The interpreters digital toolbox

Drew Smith, Freelance Archaeologica Illustrator and Mikko Kriek, ‎Archaeological illustrator/designer at VUhbs archeologie and Owner, BCL Archaeological Support

Drew and Mikko have been preparing reconstruction images together for the past three years.
Our talk will explain how a given brief is translated into an accessible photo-realistic image using computers and a variety of software. Sourcing images from our portfolio, we will show how the final images are researched, planned and created.

There are many advantages for the client in having a virtual 3D scene prepared. Amends and adjustments can be easily carried out, viewpoints changed and LoRes previews produced when required. Based on the data available, a high degree of accuracy is achievable and textures can be custom made to reflect, as closely as possible, the original materials used. Working digitally allows us to work together from remote locations, working to our strengths and blending our styles. Occasionally, discoveries are made when translating plans and surveys into a virtual model. A couple of examples will be discussed using illustrations to provide evidence!

Finally, a few thoughts on where interpretation might be heading. With the Occulus Rift head set providing an increasingly realistic immersive experience for a relatively low price point and augmented reality becoming popular, there will be new avenues to explore for virtual reconstruction artists.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

Garry Gibbons, PhD Candidate, University of Southampton

This paper sets out to provide a context to the current conditions in which graphics practitioners work post-2008 and how specialist graphics skills embedded in the proposed examples of collaborative best practice  as called for in this session’s abstract  might best be identified and evaluated.

Much has changed over the past 20 years or so, not least the concept of ‘archaeologist’ from one simply defining itself in-the-field to a recognition that archaeology is a process comprising an array of specialist activities. Historically, the AAI&S served to set standards within the graphics community, however, the notion of specialist graphics practitioners across the sector largely emerged from a programme of work undertaken to map roles within archaeology in order to ring-fence broad areas of specialist activity and codify the skill-sets required to undertake them. The resulting National Occupational Standards were explicitly designed to collate and measure the skills and competencies necessary to fulfil the role of any given specialist. Since when, such training on offer to specialist graphics practitioners was largely intended to address the acquisition and maintenance of digital-based skills.

While technology seemingly pulls us ever forward, is there evidence the specialist graphics arena is also maintaining and building on its traditional skill-sets, or is entry-level training and subsequent upskilling of staff simply meeting narrow technological demands? This paper draws on data collected from a detailed survey of eighty specialist graphics practitioners and nineteen senior graphics staff.

Interactive approaches to landscape modelling using Lidar data

Steve Malone, Project Manager, Trent & Peak Archaeology

The use of LiDAR derived Digital Elevation Models is becoming commonplace in the study of ancient landscapes. These DEMs offer the opportunity to study landscape, archaeology and topography at a high resolution which no other survey data source can deliver over such wide areas. However, in common with other 3D datasets they present a paradox, in that the dimensionality that makes them so powerful has to be discarded in the production and dissemination of 2D (or 2½D) derived products and final figures. The utility of such output depends in large degree on the skills of the processor/illustrator (and toolkits for the production of such imagery will be discussed), but increasing availability of 3D functionality within such as the PDF format and the development of interactive WebGL approaches are allowing the potential of these datasets to be realised in greater degree. This paper will study some methods of presentation/visualisation of surface models and explore the potential for interactive modelling.

If you have any critiques please leave a comment. To see more videos like these please go to the YouTube channel Recording Archaeology- http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC08QKQO1qs6OPQs9l1kMQPg

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