Our Cultural Heritage Round Tables began as small, one-off gatherings between Digital Transitions and our clients, as a formal way for us to gather the community’s collective feedback on their experience with our equipment and how we could work to improve it. Since its inception, the event has grown from a single day at our office to three annual conferences in key regions across the United States. Attendees come from a variety of disciplines and institutions to demo new digitization technology, learn best practices, discuss workflow tips, and network with other cultural heritage professionals.
This year, we held our first ever Virtual Round Table, which gave cultural heritage professionals from around the world the opportunity to connect and learn about the latest advancements in digital imaging technology from leading experts! We have made our Virtual Round Table presentations available for replay in an effort to share this invaluable knowledge with the rest of the cultural heritage community. We hope you enjoy the following presentations found in this playlist.
Demystifying Grant Writing Part 1: Creating Compelling Narratives That Funders are Excited to Support
The heart of every grant proposal is the narrative questions that ask you to explain why you need money and why you deserve the funding more than another organization and project. This is where novice grant writers struggle and seasoned writers can fall into a trap. While writing does take practice and a lot of editing, it is actually not that difficult if you know where to begin and how to follow through. This presentation provides insight into what a funder wants and how you, as the grant writer, can provide it in a way that is inspiring. Learn how to present your case professionally, while also compelling the funder to care and become invested in your success. You will come away from this presentation feeling energized, excited, and more determined than ever to share your story in a way that creates financing for the projects you believe in.
Demystifying Grant Writing Part 2: Finding Opportunities, Breaking Down Requirements, and Winning
Sometimes making a project successful or ramping up the next big idea is limited by a lack of funding. Winning a grant is a great way to give your project or idea the financial boost it needs… but where are they and how do we win? In this presentation, Grant Writer and Digitization Consultant, Brady Wilks, will cover some of the basics in finding grant opportunities, variations in grant writing processes, and understanding the differences in grantor’s requests. Participants will learn about methods on how to approach the process of writing a grant, knowing what approach to select, and how to fulfill requirements while still telling a good story.
An EPICC Project: Partnership with the National Museum of Natural History’s Paleo-Biology Department
Pixel Acuity has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) Department of Paleobiology and the Smithsonian Institution Digitization Project Office (DPO) on a mass digitization project in support of the Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Communities of the Cenozoic (EPICC) Thematic Collections Network. These specimens serve as digital records of the collection and diagnostic tools, enabling scientists to better understand how marine ecosystems have responded to events such as the transition to the modern icehouse climate, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), and more. The EPICC project began with a pilot project in 2017, followed by two production phases in 2017-2018 and 2019-2020, which together resulted in the digitization of over 500,000 marine invertebrates and their specimen labels. As this project has progressed, Pixel Acuity has found ways to increase efficiency and optimize workflows while maintaining museum standards and best practices.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Archival Digitization Project and the Sobibor Perpetrator Collection
Since 2015, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s (USHMM) Archival Digitization Project has generated over 1 million images, helping to preserve and provide access to our personal paper collections. This year the imaging operation moved into a custom-built digitization suite, which will allow not only increased image output but also a wider variety of document types. The project’s workflow involves staff from multiple departments who arrange, describe and provide conservation treatment for documents before they go in front of the camera. The USHMM’s team close collaboration made it possible to rapidly digitize a recent important acquisition, the Sobibor Perpetrator collection. The collection includes newfound photographs documenting the layout and staffing of the Sobibor killing center and the implementation of the Holocaust. Digitizing this collection proved to be a unique challenge, but the USHMM’s teamwork enabled them to publish the collection online just before the pandemic upended regular routines.
The New Phase One iXH 150MP and 72mm MkII lens
Last year the Cultural Heritage portfolio of products from Phase One was moved to their Industrial Division so that it could receive more dedicated and specialized allocation of R&D, sales, and marketing resources. The first major result of this has been the release of the Phase One iXH 150MP and the Phase One 72mm MkII reprographic lens. Yair will discuss both of these solutions in detail, including their design intentions and test images. He will also provide some insight into Phase One’s CH product roadmap.
DT and Pixel Acuity New Products and R+D Preview
It’s cliche at this point to say that 2020 has accelerated previous trends, but at DT and Pixel Acuity, this could not be more true. We were already investing in custom coding for workflow improvements, artificial intelligence for enriching collections, and higher image quality in our capture systems, but the Remote Renaissance spurred by COVID-19 has pushed us to move even faster on those projects. During this presentation, we’ll discuss three such projects. First, a new next-generation OCR engine that better handles handwritten materials, faded historical documents, and poor condition materials. Second, an online platform for remote QC of OCR, which allows CH personnel working from home to remotely contribute to the correction and approval process. And third, Pixel Flow 2.0, that our Pixel Acuity team is using to streamline post-processing – vital as we’ve ramped digitization services more than 300% over the past year.
Reproducing the Negative — Rendering Considerations and Solutions
Best practices for digitizing film and other transmissive media have been well established through FADGI, Metamorfoze, and (upcoming) ISO guidelines. While they are technically demanding at the highest level, the capture process is relatively straightforward procedurally. However, there are certain variables in both capture and processing negatives that can greatly impact image rendering, even if these guidelines are met. We discuss two such variables and approaches to control them. First, we explore appropriate lighting considerations for the proper rendering of film as a 3-dimensional physical object and then examine appropriate processing considerations for the rendering of film as a container of image content.
Ed Ruscha’s Streets of Los Angeles, Reel to Reel
This project digitizes a pioneering collection generated by one of the world’s most recognized artists. Ruscha’s collection includes several hundred thousand images, hundreds of contact sheets, and the complete production archive for the artist’s canonical book Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). These materials have been previously unavailable for research, scholarship, or exhibition and are a unique record of Los Angeles’s built environment’s gradual evolution. Ruscha’s street shoots are stored on motion picture film rolls and presented unique digitization challenges, which is discussed in this presentation.
Early Color Photography at National Geographic
The National Geographic Society Archives holds the largest collection of early color photography in the United States: over 15,000 glass plate autochromes, Agfachromes, Dufaycolor, Finlaycolor photographs. The collection includes not only natural color photographs from Greenland to Japan, but also several notable color photographic “firsts.” The majority of the collection is currently undigitized and unpublished. This presentation discusses the process of taking the National Geographic Society’s ideas for digitizing these unique cultural heritage objects from “what-if?” to creating a fully-funded federal grant project to conserve and digitize the entire collection in partnership with DTCH and the Center for Conservation of Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA).
The San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and SFO Museum present a case study on a special collaboration for the exhibition Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope, located in Harvey Milk Terminal 1. They share their use of SFPL’s Digital Transitions Cultural Heritage system in digitizing archives and original photography from the Harvey Milk Archives-Scott Smith Collection, Hormel LGBTQIA Center for exhibition at the Airport. They also highlight the subsequent exhibitions, projects, and opportunities that arose from this initial partnership.
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