Time to say goodbye

I can't really believe my three-month adventure in Canada is coming to an end. I found it hard to summarize everything happened to me during my stay, but I had so much fun with people here and the days I spent in Lethbridge will be in my memory forever.   Part 1 My Research Work  I  felt so lucky that I had the chance to come to University of Lethbridge and joined the Visionary Cross Project to work as Mitacs Global Link Fellow, under the supervision of Daniel O’Donnell in July. My work was to map a point from Unreal to 3DHOP or vice-versa, which was not my area of expertise but it turned out to be interesting and I could really work something out in the end. Here's what I've done following the timeline:
  1. Looked into the difference of left-hand (Unreal) and right-hand (3DHOP) referencing system and found out the matrix to convert one to another. An object has world, local, camera coordinate system to display its position from a different perspective. To map the point from one to another, we need to know what kind of referencing system they're using and how to convert it.
  2. Converted .ply (3DHOP) to .fbx (Unreal) or vice-versa by 3D tools. I got two models and used 3D graphics softwares like 3DX MAX, MeshLab and Blender to easily convert the  models. Blender could import both .ply and .fbx file format, while MeshLab supports .ply and 3DS MAX supports .fbx only.
  3. Built a basic scene based on the third person template in Unreal, displayed the cursor and printed the coordinates of the point which the camera was looking at. I didn't use the whole gaming environment the team had already done because I just wanted it to be a simple demo, so I made a scene by my own according to the Unreal documentation and community.
  4. Built a simple 3DHOP viewer based on the hot spot example following the how-to tutorial. I improved the hot spot function so that it was not preset but dynamically changed according to the coordinates passed by URL. It was also useful to set up the initial angle by a function called presenter.animateToTrackballPosition(), which could somehow duplicate the view from Unreal to 3DHOP.
  5. Put two models in Blender, measured the length, width, height of the models and calculated the ratio. I found that .fbx model is scaled down approximately 20 times compared with .ply, and the origins of two models were not at the same position, which led us to find out how to reset the origin, where to put the origin and what kind of tool is better to do it.
  6. Integrated what I've done so far, made a summary and wrote a documentation so that people could catch up to continue the project. Based on the problems encountered in the project, I also wrote a standardization with some advice to improve the process.
Here're some issues we still need to figure out:
  1. Find out the camera information in Unreal.
  2. Solve the problem that the size of the exported model will be bigger than expected in Blender, which couldn't be loaded in 3DHOP.
  3. Decide where to put the origin.
  4. Write a converter to duplicate the view from Unreal to 3DHOP.
Looking back my research work in University of Lethbridge, I really want to thank everyone who helped me from the bottom of my heart: Thank you for making this three months so meaningful and worthwhile!   Part 2 My Colorful Life I have to say, this is the best summer I have ever had! I had many firsts: first time on the trail, first time camping, first time shooting... These are all my precious memories! I love mountains, lakes, all those beautiful landscapes in Canada: Maligne Canyon in Jasper, Peyto Lake in Banff, Bear's Hump in Waterton... I had seen the pictures of these famous scenic spots in Canadian nation parks , but I didn't believe those because I thought they were photoshoped. Only when I was really in the beautiful scenery then I realized that the photos were real. It was just amazing!!! I also went to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Frank Slide, which really got me into the history and culture of Canada. I also did a lot of outdoor activities with Mitacs friends and some Chinese friends I met here. We went to play mini golf and go karts, which was really exciting! Then my friend drove me to the Park Lake at midnight to watch meteors, and I even got a picture of it! A couple of weeks ago, we decided to go camping in Waterton and go hiking to the Crypt Lake the next day. That hike was fantastic! In 2014 National Geographic, it was rated as one of the World's 20 Most Thrilling Trails! Another exciting thing I did was shooting. My supervisor Dan took me and Gurpreet there yesterday and it felt so good when you really hit that target paper, so cool! Another thing needs to be mentioned that, although I came to Canada alone three months ago, I wasn't really lonely because I had so many friends here! Especially for the last month, I moved to a new place, staying with a family who treated me like a family member. They invited me to dinner, taught me how to play the piano, baked a cake with me... I was afraid of dogs because I was bitten by a dog when I was young. But because of the dog in their house, Kala, which is such a friendly dog, I no longer feel afraid anymore! They even took me to a Canadian citizenship ceremony to let me feel the culture deeply, and I really wanna say thank you to them. IMG_4736 I love this beautiful country and I love these friendly people living here. Hope one day I will be back!

A meeting with Marco about the work we’ve done so far

Last Friday, we had a meeting with Marco about the work done so far and the future work of mapping the point from one to another. Three important questions which need to be answered are:
  • How to find the point of interest?
  • How to duplicate the view?
  • How to map the point from one to another?
The difference between how Unreal and 3DHOP works matters a lot to the first question. Because Unreal works with the principle "camera in hand", which is different from "object in hand" in 3DHOP, the camera is not always focused on the object (the Cross) and it makes us think what is a good way to find the point of interest when the camera travels around the whole scene. For duplicating the view, the key is to find the information about camera position used in Unreal to describe the viewing point. Knowing what parameters Unreal will give us about the camera position, we will be able to write a converter in 3DHOP to duplicate the view from one to another. The answers to those two questions above are the first - phase preparations of the work, what should we do to really map the point of interest from Unreal to 3DHOP? First, two models use different coordinate system, which is easy to solve. We're also facing the problem that the models are not the same size because people who work with Unreal need to resize the Cross to cooperate with gaming environment. We put two models in Blender and it turned out that the model used in Unreal is scaled down by the one in 3DHOP, which is good for us. The main issue, however, is that the origins of models are not the same. The origin of the model in Unreal is at the top right corner of the bottom, while the one in 3DHOP is at the center of the bottom. If the (0,0,0) is not at the same position in two models, it would be much more difficult to deal with the coordinates. Picture2 Picture1   So now the question is, which position would be better to put the origin on and how do we fix it? We can't take an arbitrary point as the origin, and there has to be a protocol/standard that is convenient as well as useful. We can either fix the origin of the Cross or rebuild one to make sure the origins of two models are at the same point. We were all pleased to see this project is really on the right track and we will continue to work on it. Here is the link to presentation by me in google drive: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4-K1GZHwphnN0x3TXYxUTU0dlE/view

A simple demo using Unreal Engine

Thanks to the people who have been working on Unreal Engine, we got the cross model and created a very basic scene using  the 3rd person template in Unreal. Users can rotate the scene by keyboard and mouse inputs, which would change the angle and the distance from which the users are looking at, in order to see other sides of the cross model and more details. It is a very basic simple demo but we're trying to get the coords of the model itself when users double-click on a point they're interested in, which would be the first step to map the point from Unreal to 3DHOP. Capture          Capture2

Meshlab is a fantastic tool!

After talking to both sides working on Unreal and 3DHOP, we found out that they were not using the same model. We wanted to see if convert a model from .obj (the file format used in Unreal) to .ply (the file format used in  3DHOP) would be easy to do. With a lot of methods on the Internet, we chose the easiest way to get the file converted, which is the Meshlab. You simply import a mesh of .obj file format and export it as .ply file format, and it's done! Thanks to Meshlab, making it easy for us to use the same model in both Unreal and 3DHOP. For more information about Mashlab, click here.  

The Visionary Cross Project announces a free beta test of its viewer for the Ruthwell Cross

You can access the test viewer at the following URL: http://vcg.isti.cnr.it/cross/

About the test

We are using this test to gain initial feedback on usability and use cases for the viewer including corrections, and advice for further development, treatment and discussion of potential uses. As a result we are particularly interested in:

  • Suggestions for improvement and additional features that you would like to be added for it being a useful product for all the intended users.
  • Comments on shortcomings or problems with the viewer quality.
  • General feedback and comments on the viewer

We will be collecting comments via a simple feedback questionnaire at the end of your session. The data we collect will be used to assist us refactoring the interface for future official release. Nothing will be shared with third parties or used for other purposes.

Potential use cases

We anticipate that this edition of the cross will be useful for teaching, popularisation activities and self-study. The edition provides a moderately detailed 3D representation of the Ruthwell Cross (optimised for use over the web) that can be rotated and manipulated by the user in various ways (zoom in, turn on and off colour, rotate horizontally and vertically, and examine with a “light source” that can be used to throw features into relief). Annotation aimed at the lay person is associated with each face of the cross and its panels.

Licence and copyright

The material in this viewer is being released under a Creative Commons Attribution Only 3.0 licence (CC-BY). This means that you can Share (copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format) and/or Adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially) provided you give appropriate credit (as indicated on the beta test site), provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. Use of the Beta test is free of charge.


About the project

The Visionary Cross project is an international, multidisciplinary research project whose principal objective is the development of a new kind of digital archive and edition of texts and objects associated with the Visionary Cross tradition in Anglo-Saxon England. The material this project represents includes some of the most studied and most popular artefacts from the Anglo-Saxon period: the Ruthwell Cross, Bewcastle Cross, Brussels Cross and Vercelli Book Dream of the Rood and Elene poems.

Taking its cue from recent developments in digital editorial theory and practice, the project takes a data-centric, distributed, and generalisable approach to the representation of cultural heritage texts, objects, and contexts in order to encourage broad scholarly and popular engagement with its material.

This is a collaborative project between University of Lethbridge, University of Leeds, Università degli Studi di Torino, University of Pennsylvania Libraries, ISTI-CNR, Pisa.

We are now collecting and publishing these digital representations as part of a thematically organised, Open Access, and extensible, multimedia digital library. We will also develop two other forms of mediated access: a research/educational edition aimed at researchers and students and a more popular interpretative portal designed to work with tourism and cultural heritage outreach activities. We intend to release the final version aimed at:

  • General public/ tourists
  • Scholars working with the artifacts involved
  • Lecturers/Teachers for pedagogical usage
The project has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (O’Donnell, PI), the University of Lethbridge CREDO (O’Donnell, PI), the University of Leeds (Karkov, PI), and the Università degli Studi di Torino (Rosselli Del Turco, PI).  
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