Archives Inspire Video

Last year I was very fortunate to be invited to The National Archives (TNA) in Kew to feature in their Archives Inspire video (above), filmed by the wonderful Magneto Films.

It was a privilege to be filmed alongside the other cast who are all brilliant professionals and it was lovely to revisit TNA after spending a year as one of their Transforming Archives Trainee‘s. The Magneto team were very professional, especially as it was my 1st attempt at being in front of a rather large camera!

Archives Inspire is a four year campaign looking at new ways audiences can experience and use archives- have a look at TNA’s Chief Executive Jeff James’ blog post and the Archives Inspire pages on TNA’s website for more.

Digital is an interesting challenge for the archives sector, where records being produced are increasingly in the digital format (think from large organisation’s records to personal photographs). Over the past decade Archivists have been thinking about how to preserve digital media for accountability, evidential, cultural and research purposes. At present, digital is now becoming central to the archival profession as we hope to preserve these records and facilitate access.

I am particularly interested in the creative uses of archives, especially heritage engagement using 3D models, websites, online exhibitions and videogames. I was very honoured to be able to showcase some of my 3D work in TNA’s Archives Inspire video- you can see my North Bar (Beverley) model in the video showcased using the software Blender 3D. Very grateful that something I’ve been doing for over 5 years is being featured in such an important video.

 

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3D Model: St Michael’s Chapel, Roche Rock

Cornwall is my 2nd home from home and in between archive visits and surfing last summer I visited the Chapel of St Michael, at Roche Rock, located near Bodmin and St Austell. Alongside Tintagel and St Michael’s Mount, the chapel is now on my list of top favourite locations.

Hannah Rice at St Michael's Chapel, Roche Rock, Cornwall
Me standing at the chapel entrance, 2016.

The romantic ruin of St Michael’s Chapel is perched on top of the rock and there have been many speculations as to why the chapel was built in its high-up location, including a lookout point, a place of worship for pilgrims travelling south and a hermitage.
The medieval chapel, constucted of granite, was licensed in 1409 and appears built into the schorl rock formation consisting of a 3-tiered structure with the flooring removed. It is a listed building, see Historic England’s listing.

Model created in Blender (personal project) using polygon modelling and my own photographs as reference.

St Michael's Chapel, Roche Rock, Cornwall 3D model by Hannah Rice
View of St Michael’s Chapel, Roche Rock. Image copyright: Hannah Rice

Visualising Hull’s Beverley Gate- Part 1

Beverley Gate (Hull), 3D work in progress by Hannah Rice
Beverley Gate (Hull), 3D work in progress by Hannah Rice

With Hull’s UK City of Culture celebrations nearing in 2017 I thought it would be fitting to digitally recreate one of the city’s most historic landmarks- Beverley Gate.

Beverley Gate Remains
Beverley Gate Remains in 2010 (Photo by Chris Coulson, Creative Commons Atribution-Share Alike 3.0 )

At present, the gate’s structural remains can be seen at the west end of Whitefriargate, Hull. For years the remains have been a much overlooked heritage asset, however thanks to a public opinion campaign and talks of regeneration the structural remains are now a designated National Monument (see Beverley Gate listing on Historic England) .

Beverley Gate has a fascinating story and is one of high historical significance. On the 23rd April 1642, the gate was the location where Hull’s Governor, John Hotham, and his son (also named John Hotham) refused Charles I entry into the city- as a result being one of the catalystic moments of the English Civil War (and the subsequent executions of the Hotham father and son). It is a well-known story and gives the site national importance.

Using Blender, my latest visualisation of Beverley Gate will be based on both artist impressions, archival and secondary source material, held at the Hull History Centre, Hull Museums and the East Riding Archives. I’m aiming to digitally model the gate as it was in 1642- this means it will be a complete architectural structure and not the romanticised version which you can see in George Arnald’s lovely painting “Charles I Demanding Entrance at the Beverley Gate, Hull“, c1819- though I’d love to model this version too!

So far I have modelled the main gate structure, drawbridge and surrounding landscape. The next step will be texturing, finishing touches and hopefully being able to upload the model onto my Sketchfab account- more posts to follow!

Immersive Digital Environments & Gaming Potentials

Just spent a couple of hours in the “3Sixty” which is a room in the Ron Cooke Hub at the University of York (see photo below).

3sixtypagebanner

photo source:  http://www.york.ac.uk/ctc/3sixty/

The 3Sixty consists of four walls in which digital images are projected onto from a computer. In my session today myself and peers were immersed actually inside a 3D visualisation of a French Cistercian monastery in Greece (created by Dr Anthony Masinton, University of York) which was based on archaeological data.

Although the room is named the 3Sixty, we actually got a 180-degree view and we could look around us as though we were actually standing inside the monastery. I found this exciting as I could get a real sense of scale of the monastery’s interior though it would have been nice to have had an additional screen on the ceiling to further enhance the immersion. We also listened to some   chant music and found that the use of auralisation in a 3D model enhanced the sense of place compared to being just a representation in “cyberspace”.

This got me thinking- can technologies used in the 3Sixty be utilised for gaming?   Before experiencing immersion in a computer generated environment I would have said “definitely yes”, but with hindsight I left the 3Sixty feeling amazed at what I had just experienced but also very disorientated and a bit nauseous, so now I’m thinking yes but it will need a lot of work into making it more user-friendly. I only spent around two hours in the room, sat down looking at the static image of the monastery that surrounded me.That was fine, until we started “walking” through the monastery like on a computer game, and that’s when the dizziness hit.

It would be amazing if the computer games industry could utilise these technologies so you, as the character, could navigate actually inside another world and fully interact with other players (perhaps in a World of Warcraft style) in a more unencumbered manner, so no peripherals such as a headset, or mouse, keyboard or controller. It may be the future of gaming, or it may not due to motion-sensitive people like me…

Visualisation of Ecclesiastic Architecture- Appropriate in Gaming?

It’s been a very busy few months on my masters degree so haven’t had chance to post on here since October, but it has got to the important thinking-about-dissertation-topic stage and it has got me wondering about the benefits and downfalls of representing and exploring heritage locations through computer gaming.

In gaming we encounter many real-life locations, still standing today, lost or even mythologised – when else will we get to free run inside the Santa Maria del Fiore (Assassin’s Creed II), go tomb-raiding at the lost city of Vilcabamba (Tomb Raider (both original and Anniversary) or traverse up Mount Olympus to battle the gods? (God of War III)

It is when we start depicting locations or buildings in games which people today regard as sacred when controversy arises, for example in the depiction of ecclesiastical architecture.

For a seminar I had to select an example of 3D visualisation, contemporary or dated, which I considered to be “iconic” in related to heritage.  I decided to incorporate this with my love for computer gaming environments and I chose the representation of Manchester Cathedral in the 2007 Sci-fi game Resistance: Fall of Man. The representation of the cathedral itself would be considered dated in terms of today’s computer graphics, however to me it was the controversy it caused that made it “iconic.”

The Church of England made a series of legal accusations against Sony (the game’s publishers) that the game desecrated the Cathedral by promoting violence, particularly gun violence, in a city that was trying to lower it’s high gun crime statistics. Sony reacted by stating that the game was a work of fictional entertainment, making comparisons the television series Doctor Who which often incorporated real locations into its story lines. It was defended by one of the game’s designers, Ian Bogost, that the use of an accurate depiction of the monument instead of an anonymous location encourages players to pay attention to it as a structure that “demands respect.”

“Resistance adds a fictional homage to the church’s resolve, this time in an alternate history fraught by an enemy that neither understands nor cares for human practices like religion. And it survives this as well. The Church of England sees their cathedral’s presence in Resistance only as a sordid juxtaposition, the sanctity of worship set against the profanity of violence. But when viewed in the context of the game’s fiction, the cathedral serves a purpose in the game consonant with its role in the world: that of reprieve for the weary and steadfastness in the face of devastation.”                                                    Ian Bogost

The Church of England wanted from Sony an apology, a substantial donation, complete withdrawal of the game or modifying the segment featuring the interior of the cathedral, and financial support of Manchester groups trying to reduce gun crime in the city. Sony pledged to not include the Cathedral in another game.

Despite the Church of England’s reaction to the representation of the Cathedral in the game, the controversy has resulted in a significant increase in its visitor numbers according to David Marshall, director of communications for the Diocese of Manchester. Teachers tell him that teenagers in particular are interested to see a building which they thought was fictional and that tourism has increased since the broadcast of pictures taken inside the Cathedral.

All of this had me wondering whether it is appropriate to depict authentic sacred locations in gaming when placed into a context that would not be acceptable in the real-world? Does the depiction of genuine ecclesiastical heritage have a place in the gaming world? Just some questions to consider…

For more architecture in gaming click here!

Resistancechurch

Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man