Alexis and Sam, hacking away!
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, I knew the basic outlines of what a “Jam” should be in the tech/gaming world–everyone comes together to hack on a project together to see what kind of results you can get with very intense focus for a short amount of time–but how would that play out in the world of interpretation and heritage? I just knew that I was excited to finally have a chance to work on something with other visualizers, some of whom I’d known for years. We started out bright and early at 9:00, went through introductions, got an outline of a plan together, then went to York Cemetery to gather primary data…
(Read the rest of the post written by me and Stu Eve at the Day of Archaeology website)
Over the weekend I finished up the series of short videos for the upcoming Heritage Jam and I’m fairly pleased with them. I have a much larger video project coming up for EUROTAST, featuring the incredible work of the research fellows, and so it was a good way to get back into the video-making groove again.
Each of the videos is a challenge to the participants of the Heritage Jam, as outlined by Dr. Julie Rugg.
Challenge One: Dynamism
Challenge Two: Visibility
Challenge Three: Class
In each video Dr. Rugg identifies some interesting challenges for visual interpretation in cemeteries. I enjoyed learning about cemeteries from her as I edited the videos.
I’m never quite 100% satisfied with the videos that I make either, as there’s always more that can be done. When I teach filmmaking to archaeology students, I tell them that you can pretty much spend an infinite amount of time editing a video, making it as perfect as possible…but I have other projects, so finding “good enough” is not wholly satisfying, but does get the video out there for other people to view. If anything, all of this just makes me appreciate the professionals that much more!
Even if you aren’t participating in the Heritage Jam, the videos may make you look at cemeteries in a different way–they certainly did for me!
(PS: Try to watch them in HD if you have the bandwidth!)
Title: The Aegean
Length: 7 minutes
Made by: Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Authors: Tourism Promoters
The Aegean. A place close to my heart. Opens with twangy “traditional music” that fades into newage, but at least there’s a female narrator who betrays a faint Turkish accent around her proper English. Yes, it’s a gorgeous landscape and climate, and, we are informed, a “land of kingdoms.” Begin the dervish-like spinning shots in the middle of sites!
It was actually very difficult to get this blurry screenshot as it was zooming by.
Pano pano pano, fast pano, cut to a nice pot showing “King Midas of the Golden Touch.” GOD the spinning again. Does this make the ruins look more lively? No real explanation, but lots of gorgeous ruins moving rapidly.
Bonus hot bath scene!
A little discussion of Ephesus, then we move on to a quick touristy overview of each spot, with minimal, Lonely Planet explanation. Sorry Turkey–I love you, I love your archaeology, but this video is a twitchy tour through ruins with a litany of famous names of people who may or may not have visited or lived there. And night clubs.
Why is this on The Archaeology Channel?
The QIAH has been conducting work at Freiha since 2009, revealing dense, complex occupation. This video is a time lapse of my good friend (and coworker) Ruth Hatfield excavating a series of intercutting firepits. Photo and Video Credit: Qatar Museums Authority – QMA.
We built a small structure over a fraction of the firepits to provide shade and then Ruth did her thing, digging all of the firepits under the shade in two hours. This time lapse demonstrates the principles of single context recording on a microscale–Ruth would dig and record the fills and cuts, all in stratigraphic sequence, showing which of the pits were dug last and working back in time. The last little bits were dug (and burned) first and truncated by later firepits. In some ways it is too bad that the camera was on a timer–you only see Ruth measuring or taking photos a couple of times. I’d like to do a time lapse that shows the entire recording process for each feature–but that might be just too tedious. Sadly I had to use iMovie to edit–my old Final Cut Pro license expired and the new FCP is appalling.
Incidentally, the font for the video is one of my favorites, Lavanderia, inspired by the writing in the windows of the San Francisco Mission:
The music is licensed under Creative Commons and is available on Soundcloud:
Kitab el 3omr by Yussof El Marr
Please comment and let me know if you show the video in your classroom so that I can report back to the QIAH and the QMA and show them that making these things is time well spent!
Back in 2009 David Cohen and I made a video for the Afghanistan exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. This video was meant to accompany the mostly interpretation-free display of gold and human remains; we wanted to give faces to archaeologists and convey what it is that we do. The museum provided us a list of guiding questions and we filmed responses from UC Berkeley archaeologists. Anyway, I finally had a moment to upload some of the videos to Youtube, and here they are for your viewing/teaching pleasure.
The infamous …and I’m an archaeologist video.
What is the best thing about being an archaeologist?
What is the worst thing about being an archaeologist?
What do archaeologists do?
What are some common misconceptions about archaeology? (Show this to your friends and family who keep asking about dinosaurs and gold)
And my favorite: What type of artifacts do you find?
I was delighted to find this video of a time-lapse excavation performed by the Tromsø Museum of a turf and stone structure from the 1700s. What really makes this video is the graphic in the corner of where the camera is located and the overall plan of the structure, highlighting what is being excavated. It transforms what looks like a bunch of workers shuffling around rocks in the mud into something inteligible. This is the translation of the video description I got in Google Translate from the original Norwegian:
Time-lapse of the excavations on the structure of S5 in the period 9.6. -21.7.2010. The structure is constructed dwellings of turf and stone. The shape of the structure implies a dichotomy where one part may have been a timber construction and the other part a hut construction. On the inside of the thick sod walls were found neverlag in different levels (see eg.Context 102). Remains of buildings is mainly dated to the 1700s, but can extend down to 1600 – the number and up to 1800’s. Time-lapse footage shows the last part of the excavation, where the scroll. chimney, walls, entrances and some luck are being put excavated / removed. Towards the end of the grave none appeared a rock pit in one wall of the house, where the fill, context 118 and 128, were removed.
Video from the archaeological excavations in Cut Vika and Vika Mountains, Hammerfest, performed by the Tromsø Museum, University Museum.
Excellent video and a fairly easy way to help the audience see the archaeology.
A quick, unrelated note:
Thanks again for everyone who commented on the previous entry about health and safety. I’ve long wanted to make a series of videos or comics to make boring topics such as OSHA compliance easy to understand, but when to find the time?
I uploaded the above test clip for the longer machinima that I posted about a little while ago. It took an immense amount of work to get this far, and this is only a tiny clip of a somewhat awkward avatar doing a single animation. I used Jing for the video capture and downloaded Soundflower for the system audio redirect.
I think I’ve complained before about having a hard time finding a variety of avatars on Second Life. Well, this lady is definitely in a different mode than my usual avatar. “Wearing” an identity like this one is deeply uncanny, and the reactions and perceptions of other people you meet in Second Life are absolutely different. I decided to follow a fairly popular strain of visual interpretation at Çatalhöyük in dressing her as a goddess figurine in the bandeau that I made for a decidedly younger character.
Once again, the exercise of recreating this small scene raised more questions than it answered:
She’s weaving reeds, so it must be summer. Were there cicadas? Yes. Why would she be doing this inside by firelight during the summer? It would be excruciatingly hot and smoky. What about her vision? I’ve put her in a less than optimal situation for weaving, that’s for sure. Why isn’t there anyone with her? Could she hear other people? Maybe sheep! We’ll add some sheep sounds. I think she’d be humming to herself. But what sounds?
It’s a lot of interpretive responsibility, wearing these second skins.
I’m not sure I’d title the project the same way, but I love what London Squared did with this film. I wonder if the filmmakers showed the result to the people they interviewed for the project and how the people felt about seeing themselves as objects in the landscape. The filmmakers call themselves urban anthropologists, but their webpage doesn’t mention any formal training.
Still, I’m always looking for inspiration. Even if I don’t have that kind of animation skills.
This Wednesday after the scheduled brown bag lecture, there will be a
showing of “So You’re an Archaeologist?!”, a 20 minute long film made for
the Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul exhibit,
currently running at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
This film was made by UC Berkeley PhD Candidates David Cohen and Colleen
Morgan and features interviews by many of their colleagues.
The film will start at approximately 1pm, after the scheduled lecture from
Alexei Vranich, and will be located in the Archaeological Research
Facility, 2251 College Building, Room 101.