Since 2002, CHI has been dedicated to fostering the scientific digital capture and documentation of the world’s cultural, historic, and artistic treasures. Focusing on methods of computational photography, CHI offers technologies, tools, hands-on training, consulting and imaging services to those who care for the objects and sites of our shared human legacy. CHI’s vision is to democratize scientific imaging technology, empowering people all over the world to document their own cultural heritage in a way that preserves and protects it for future generations.
CHI Training and Workshops
- More than 500 people representing more than 130 institutions have participated in 4-day training classes in Reflectance Transformation Imaging and photogrammetry since 2008.
- The training sessions employ a combination of lectures, demonstrations, and lots of hands-on practice for participants. The practice sessions are performed in small groups with an instructor present. The hands-on work is key to the participants’ successful mastering of the techniques.
- CHI staff have delivered computational photography workshops and tutorials at numerous international conferences, including: Imaging Science & Technology Archiving; Society for American Archaeology; American Institute for Conservation of Artistic and Historical Works; Computer Applications in Archaeology; International Federation of Rock Art Organizations; and Eurographics.
Scientific Imaging With a Focus on Data Preservation and Archiving
CHI’s approach is to apply measurable, quantifiable, and reproducible methods of image capture along with workflows designed to aid in data reuse and archiving. Using only standard digital photography equipment, this produces transparent 3D data and information about how that data was captured and processed to create remarkably robust “digital surrogates” of artifacts and sites that can be used by others.
Recent advances in software for the 3D technology photogrammetry have resulted in rapid adoption. Unfortunately, along with this quick uptake has been the proliferation of advice for image capture best suited for computer games, but not for historic documentation. While haphazardly collected photos can produce a “good-looking” 3D model, that model will have significant and non-quantifiable error. CHI teaches a rule-based image capture method, which is independent of any specific software and is designed to minimize error and support data reuse. Whenever possible, CHI employs open source tools and methods. All CHI developed software is open source.
“There are other groups doing 3D imaging, but CHI’s project is unique in the way that they advance and improve open-source and publically available technologies and methods.”
— Andrew G. Vaughn, Executive Director, The American Schools of Oriental Research
Expanded Workshops for International Heritage Workers
For international caretakers of cultural heritage, CHI proposes to expand its current 4-day workshop format to 8 days. This will support adding good documentary photography skills, as well as including more practice in the techniques with audiences who do not have formal photography skills. This added time also allows for translators to work with the CHI team on lectures and demonstrations when needed.
“We are impressed with CHI’s pedagogical philosophy and strong track record of training heritage professionals to deploy photogrammetry both in America and around the world.
Photogrammetry in particular holds great promise for rapid, high-fidelity documentation of heritage sites and museum objects under threat, and recent developments in both hardware and software are making this technique more accessible to non-specialist users.”
— Susan Kane, Director, American Archaeological Mission to Libya
Cultural Heritage Imaging focuses on developing broadly useful digital technology, training and consulting. We believe that getting the tools in the hands of local heritage stewards is the best way to leverage the power of documentary technologies and build capacity for the future. It also follows one of CHI’s core principles: to democratize technology, Democratization of these technologies enables a broad range of people to produce scientific documentation. Widespread scientific sourcing of the cultural heritage knowledge base has the potential to enrich the lives of everyone.
“Most Egyptian museums are on a limited budget, and they cannot afford expensive 3D scanning equipment. Instead, inexpensive photography-based techniques taught by CHI such as RTI and photogrammetry will be the main tools to digitize these collections.”
— Mohammed Elfaragy, Head of Virtual Immersive Scientific and Technological Applications (VISTA) Unit, Bibliotheca Alexandrina