Trial and Error

The scanning project at VCU is an exciting, but complex procedure that involves far more than simply copying artifacts onto a computer.  After we have scanned the objects we have to take the files we have created back to the lab and process them, which involves trimming the excess data, aligning the models if an object was scanned twice, fusing the model, and creating an STL file that we can then work with and publish.  For the past couple of weeks I have been dealing with a series of rather frustrating software issues, which have kept me from successfully processing any of the scan files I have been working on.  I had a bit of success when I finally got the Acheulean Hand Axe model fused, but I was still not able to work with the STL file that I created from it.

3D Model of the Graham Village Pipe

On Monday, Courtney Bowles came into the lab to help me find a solution to some of the issues we’ve been having.  We tried several models, and after failing to fuse a couple and losing one file completely, I was just about ready to give up.  I decided to go back to one of the first artifacts that I edited this semester and give it one more shot.  This model was fully trimmed and aligned, but had never successfully fused.  The artifact was a beautiful American Indian pipe from the Graham Village site in Pennsylvania, which was loaned to the lab a while back by Bob Oshnock of the Westmoreland Archaeological Society, Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology.

Courtney and I first tried rebooting the computer and then simplifying the file, in an attempt to make easier for the software to fuse it.  Both attempts were unsuccessful, but before calling it a day I remembered that there was an alternative form of fusing called the “Volume Merge” option.  I tried this, and within minutes the model was successfully fused!  From there I was able to create an STL file from it, and completely process the model without issue.  I was quite satisfied with this success, and I can not wait to try it on some of the other files I have had trouble with!

A quick animation of the Graham Village pipe. Click to see the rotating image!

I hope to report back to you with even more good news from the lab very soon, but before then I’ll be returning to an old familiar place- Ferry Farm!  I’m heading up there tomorrow to scan some prehistoric artifacts for a paper I am writing, and I am extremely excited to see the site again!  I’ll be writing about my experience there later this week, so stay tuned!


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