Colloquium on digital visualisation for education and academia – 16th May, University of Reading. All welcome!

Here's the draft programme for an exciting colloquium event I am running jointly with English Heritage. Speakers include illustrators, researchers into ancient history and VR, and specialist from English Heritage. Tuesday 16th May, 10-4.30pm, Meadow Suite, Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading. All welcome; if you're interested in attending please contact the organisers: Matthew Nicholls (Reading) and Andrew Roberts (English Heritage) - digitalvisualisationcolloquium@gmail.com Supported by the British Academy Rising Star Engagement Awards Digital Visualisation in Education and Heritage - draft programme...
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Virtual St Paul’s Cross project

One of the projects I was able to visit as part of my British Academy funded project on digital visualisation was the Virtual St Paul's Cross project at North Caroline State University. Their work includes a detailed visual reconstruction of the outdoor preaching cross by the medieval cathedral, and an acoustic model of the churchyard as it may have sounded when John Donne preached there in 1622. Here is Reading's Dr Mary Morrissey, who helped advise the project, with their poster at our recent Digital Visualisation colloquium. It's been a pleasure to make contact with this project and I look forward to seeing their next developments.  ...
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Digital Visualisation Colloquium – University of Reading, UK, 31st March 2016

We are hosting a colloquium on digital visualisation in the humanities at the University of Reading, UK on March 31st, funded by the British Academy's Rising Star Engagement Award scheme. Final programme here. Speakers include: Prof James Packer - creator with Gil Gorski of a new digital model of the Roman Forum Tayfun Oner - creator of digital models of Byzantium and Babylon Patrick Gibbs of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, York Luke Lavan, of Kent's Visualising Late Antiquity project ... and a range of speakers from the UK, Sweden, Italy, and Cyprus, discussing a variety of academic and commercial reconstruction and visualisation projects. We will leave time for plenary discussion, and for demonstrations/displays of visualisation projects. If you are a researcher, student, professional, or aficionado of digital visualisation in any humanities context we would love to see you there. Lunch provided. Please click the link for  the Final programme (and NB that this may be subject to a change or two). All welcome: please contact Elisabeth Meijer (e.h.meijer@pgr.reading.ac.uk) if...
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British Academy Digital Modelling Workshop, Dec. 2015.

Reading recently hosted a digital modelling workshop, run by Matthew Nicholls and funded by the British Academy’s Rising Star Engagement Award (BARSEA) scheme. The aim of the day was to introduce participants to digital modelling in SketchUp, accessible free software that provides an ideal entry into digital visualisation. Dr Nicholls, a Roman historian, has used this software to create his own large digital model of ancient Rome, and teaches undergraduates how to make their own models in a module on Roman Silchester which won the Guardian/HEA’s Teaching Excellence award in 2014.   Having adopted digital modelling in his own research and teaching work, Dr Nicholls is keen to share its benefits with others. He has spoken about it in many contexts, including talks to fellow academics and schoolteachers, in presentations at SketchUp’s Basecamp conferences in Colorado and London, and in lectures and YouTube videos. The British Academy’s BARSEA scheme offered a chance to share expertise with scholars in other humanities disciplines, through...
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Free Digital Modelling Workshop – 14th Dec.

Digital modelling workshop for humanities researchers and educators   Day workshop on digital modelling for beginners. Monday 14th Dec, University of Reading, 10.00-17.00.     The day will introduce humanities researchers and teachers to the basics of 3D modelling in SketchUp, and show some of the uses to which these techniques can be put. The day is led by Dr Matthew Nicholls, whose work on digital modelling of Roman sites won the 2014 Guardian/HEA Teaching Excellence Award. The workshop is generously funded by the British Academy’s ‘Rising Star Engagement Award’ grant scheme.   Free of charge; all welcome. Some financial assistance with travel costs may be available to students wishing to attend. For booking or further details please contact Elisabeth Meijer: e.h.meijer@pgr.reading.ac.uk   ...
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Apple Photos – good, bad, and ugly.

I recently upgraded my OS on my desktop and iDevices, largely to enable me to shift from iPhoto to Photos. I have had a distinctly mixed experience. There’s enough about Photos that I really like to make me want to stick with it, but there have also been some pretty worrying problems and frustrations. I have seen some of these mentioned in user forums and reviews, but not all in one place; so I thought that for what it was worth, I would jot down my thoughts. I have already sent as much of this to Apple as I could fit into their feedback form. I should probably state that the views here are my personal opinions, not those of my University; this is mostly a blog for my research work but since I use this photo library all the time for those purposes it seemed like a reasonable place to put it.   My iPhoto library has about 22,000 photos, all labelled with titles. There...
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Digital modelling – technical notes

When I give a talk or lecture using my digital model of Rome, I am usually asked about the technicalities of how I made it. Time and differing levels of interest in the audience tend to preclude a really detailed answer, so here are some facts and figures. I think this is going to be quite a geeky post, and I am an ancient historian, not a computer specialist, so please bear with me. A lot of my initial modelling work is done in SketchUp. This is the first piece of digital modelling software I taught myself to use, and it has many virtues (and several limitations). It's free in its basic version and relatively easy to pick up. When you reach the limits of the built-in feature set there are thousands of plug-ins that expand its capacity enormously. My favourites include a dome-maker, a tool for extruding a shape along edges (more easily than SU's own FollowMe tool for some...
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Ancient Libraries

My interest in digital reconstruction started with making models of Roman public libraries to illustrate my DPhil thesis. Since then I have used these models and others like them to illustrate various talks and papers, and some of them have found their way into print in academic and popular publications. I use them in my Classics research and teaching at Reading and in my classes at the London Rare Book School. One of the best preserved libraries of the Classical world is the handsome library of Celsus at Ephesus. Its ebullient baroque facade fell down in an earthquake and was painstakingly re-erected by Austrian archaeologists in the twentieth century, but the facade statues are missing, the doors are gone, and the remains of the book room behind are less well preserved. A digital reconstruction seemed like a good way of filling in some of these elements. Here is a still image and fly-in movie:   Celsus library flyin - movie Other libraries in the Roman world...
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