Hello!  My name is Catherine Cooper; I am a new Research Scientist working in the Technical Services program at NCPTT.  I have dual BSc degrees in Anthropology and Chemistry from Beloit College, and a PhD in Anthropology/Archaeological Science from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.  I have segued into conservation and had the pleasure of training with conservators at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum in Providence, RI, and the Arizona State Museum in Tucson, AZ before moving to Natchitoches and joining the team here at NCPTT.  My role at NCPTT is to assist with providing technical preservation consulting and services as well as assist with the research being conducted here at the National Center.

One of the projects that I am currently working on with my colleagues across the NCPTT programs is to record short videos introducing all of our analytical instruments and techniques.  The goal for each video is to show (in a nutshell) how the instrument (or technique) works, why we use it in conservation, and what questions it can help us answer.  A few of us are taking turns introducing the instruments (we want our audience to have a bit of variety!); this past week, Research Associates Marissa Bartz and Elizabeth Salmon were in front of the camera.

As with every new endeavor, these first videos were experimental in nature: How does one move or stand in front of the camera so all the action is clearly visible? (Strategically angle toward the camera and slightly exaggerate all movements)  How should one open and close the monologue? (“Hello”…and give a plug for the NCPTT website at the end)  What lighting works or doesn’t work? (Lights are good!)  How close does the camera need to be for any particular shot?  (Not too close, apparently).

Lighting the scene. Elizabeth Salmon demonstrating how to start the Posi-Test AT-A pull-test, with Jason Church focusing the camera on her hands.

Lighting the scene. Elizabeth Salmon demonstrating how to start the Posi-Test AT-A pull-test, with Jason Church focusing the camera on her hands.

We probably had too much fun during this figure-it-out portion of the filming, but we now have a structure.

For this particular project, we are using a DJI Osmo camera to record the video, and a Rode lavalier mic plugged into a ZOOM H2 to capture clear vocals.  The lavalier mic is relatively easy to hide, with the ZOOM going into a lab coat pocket with the wire threading through the pocket slit and up the inside of the coat to clip to the lapel.  The separate sound recording is useful due to the amount of background noise that is produced by the Osmo’s gyroscope and picked up by the onboard mic.

Our first two videos were filmed as part of research-in-progress.  Elizabeth has picked up a project-in-process that is focused on how paint-primer systems on historic wood weather over time.  Our first video features Elizabeth testing the adhesion strength of these paint-primer systems using the PosiTest AT-A pull-test.

Elizabeth Salmon introducing the Posi-Test AT-A, with Jason Church behind the camera

Elizabeth Salmon introducing the Posi-Test AT-A, with Jason Church behind the camera.

One of the challenges for filming this instrument was determining the optimal distance from which to film the instrument pieces at work.

Jason Church getting a close up of the Posi-Test AT-A handle attached to a dolly adhered to a painted wood sample.

Jason Church getting a close up of the Posi-Test AT-A handle attached to a dolly adhered to a painted wood sample.

Filming the second video was also opportunistic: we filmed Marissa introducing the Rilem test for water absorption, which she is using as part of her research on salt efflorescence now that the rain cycles have ended (see her blog posts here).

Marissa Bartz demonstrating how she is using the Rilem Test on her test walls; Jason Church behind the camera

Marissa Bartz demonstrating how she is using the Rilem Test on her test walls; Jason Church behind the camera.

This particular video was interesting to shoot because Jason Church (Materials Conservator, and man behind the camera this week) had to follow her around to film different steps of the process.  This tested the Osmo’s ability to focus and follow the main subject.  We decided to film in segments so that we could also move our light source.

Marissa Bartz showing how to prepare the Rilem tubes at the bench, Jason Church filming, and Amy Broussard checking the lighting.

Marissa Bartz showing how to prepare the Rilem tubes at the bench, Jason Church filming, and Amy Broussard checking the lighting.

Though it will take time to edit the videos, strip out the Osmo’s sound and add in the recordings from the ZOOM H2, we hope to start posting them on our website soon.  We will be continuing to film these instrument introductions (at the moment we have 43 videos planned) and uploading them as they are completed.  I will post again once the videos begin to go live!  We hope you enjoy!

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119