INSIGHT believes in visualization

INSIGHT seeks out scientists with questions that can benefit from visualization.  INSIGHT has spent a decade collaborating on diverse projects worldwide, often crossing discipline boundaries.  We work with museums, universities, foundations, and fellow non-profit organizations.  We build web sites for data dissemination, present at peer-reviewed conferences, and support technology transfer and training.


INSIGHT is a California non-profit organization dedicated to documenting the human record for the benefit of researchers and the general public.  We currently focus on bringing computer vision techniques to the work of archaeologists and other researchers in the disciplines that comprise the world heritage field. INSIGHT provides a practical framework for the intelligent application of visualization for sciences and the humanities.  While INSIGHT’s foremost responsibility is to researchers, educational and museum work also an area of interest.

Cultural Heritage Visualization

Recording the past with the tools of the future, INSIGHT was founded to extend the visualization capabilities of scientists and foster education in visualization, with an emphasis on digital cultural heritage.  INSIGHT provides advanced visualization and documentation tools for established scientific fieldwork.  Staffed with specialists in both archaeology and visual computing, the INSIGHT team fills the useful role of “translator” between the normally exclusive worlds of technology and heritage.  INSIGHT provides relevant digital tools to researchers and work with specialists to develop visualizations.  Since current technologies are often too expensive for research budgets, INSIGHT believes it is crucial to provide free access to equipment and techniques on a 'pilot' basis.  INSIGHT also provides a research lens through which these digital tools can be profitably viewed.

In a world where time is running out for many heritage sites, INSIGHT is working to speed the process of site documentation.  INSIGHT both develops new tools and adapts digital documentation methods for archaeological use.  Innovative use of space sampling is at the core of all INSIGHT project work, including the use of digital photography, computer modeling, and laser scanning.

INSIGHT Core Principles

1. INSIGHT exists to extend the range of visualization tools currently available to archaeologists and related researchers. INSIGHT offers: access to technical and archaeological expertise, training in digital techniques to speed the documentation of endangered sites, and peer advocacy in the development of new technologies.

2. INSIGHT is chartered to provide a lasting repository for research data, including its own.  Through comprehensive web publication, the INSIGHT Permanent Archive is open to both research and general consumption. INSIGHT supports documentation work free of the "editorial" context generated by hand drawings.  The following uses are specifically enabled, using the Permanent Archive as a means to:

  • Create physical duplicates where desired
  • Assist in inspection of loaned artifacts
  • Create a visual database for large fragment collections
  • Allow researchers to study a virtual surrogate whose detail fidelity is comparable to the original

3. INSIGHT works to foster new opportunities for museum presentation, including reconstruction and animation, where appropriate.  INSIGHT supports the use of computers to present complex information directly to the general public.  The use of imaginative animation is specifically favored as a means to pass lively views of ancient life to modern viewers.

4. INSIGHT places an emphasis on presentation of data for education.

5. INSIGHT strives to employ technology only where it is fit for use.  INSIGHT work is open to and reliant upon peer review.

Biographical Information

Kevin Cain, Director


Aiming to cross-pollinate computer graphics with traditional archaeological techniques, Kevin Cain heads INSIGHT. Mr. Cain has organized digital cultural heritage projects in collaboration with an extremely diverse group of organizations. Past, present and future INSIGHT projects include work for:  the American Research Center in Egypt Egyptian Antiquities Project (Cairo), the Institute for Nautical Archaeology (Alexandria), the Egyptian Antiquities Dept. of the British Museum (London), the Metropolitan Museum’s Egyptian Art Dept. (New York), and the American Museum of Natural History (New York).

Mr. Cain’s extensive background in the field of Computer Graphics includes work for Sony America, the DeYoung Museum, and many years of pioneering visual computing work during the 1990s.  During this period, Mr. Cain Directed and/or Produced several CGI film projects, including The Age of Convergence, juried at SIGGRAPH 1998, and the multiple award winning short film Freeware.  Concurrent live performance projects include computer-based designs for Tony-award winning Directors Sharon Ott (ACT), Dan Chumley (SFMT), and more than 40 other works of theater, gallery art, and opera. Mr. Cain is the Founding Designer for California Contemporary Opera and has designed extensively for the company.

Through the sponsorship of Silicon Graphics Inc., Mr. Cain began to apply computer modeling and animation techniques to cross-disciplinary projects at CCO, including landmark productions of Antigona Furiosa and The Lighthouse. Mr. Cain first approached the discipline of cultural heritage with a 1996 project in Massa Marittima, Italy.  Over the years, Mr. Cain expanded his collaboration with archaeologists and architects.  These efforts include: joining with UC Berkeley's Center for Design Visualization to host the Grand Event of the 1996 Internet World Fair, winning the AIA-SF’s 1999 Judge’s Choice award for Digital Architecture, and giving papers at conferences related to digital cultural heritage.

Academic Experience

For five years (1995-2000), Mr. Cain served as full-time Faculty for, and subsequently Director of the Computer Arts Program at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco.  Under Mr. Cain’s Direction, the program grew into the largest visual computing program in the United States, comprising more than 1500 students.  Mr. Cain was responsible for developing the curriculum for both BFA (Undergraduate) and MFA (Graduate) students, and has shared in numerous prestigious awards granted to the students he assisted directly. Mr. Cain has also served as Founder and Chair for yearly New Media Colloquia (1995 – 2000) where lecturers have included:  Brenda Laurel, Joseph Lambert, Nick Philip, Chris Landreth, Charles Ostman, Jon Tojek, and Paul Debevec.  He has also served on numerous panels, including the Academy Advisory Board and SF-SIGGRAPH Education Committee.  Mr. Cain contributed a chapter to the book “Maya 2:  Character Animation”, published in 2000. Additionally, Mr. Cain has written many papers in the area of computer graphics on topics ranging from particle dynamics to digital lighting and rendering.


Mr. Cain graduated with Highest Distinction from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991, where he was inducted into the national honor society Phi Beta Kappa.  While at UC Berkeley, Mr. Cain was awarded, among others, the Mask and Dagger award for Design Excellence.

Dr. Philippe Martinez, Lead Archaeologist


Philippe Martinez was born in 1963. After Art History and Archaeology studies, he obtained a Ph.D. in Egyptology and a research degree from Ecoledu Louvre in 1989. He joined the staff of the Franco-Egyptian Center in Karnak and worked there as researcch assistant until 1992. During this period, he was in charge of on site documentation, specializing in the epigraphical survey and study of the dismantled limestone monuments of the Middle Kingdom and beginning of the 18th dynasty. He also took ative participation in the thorough documentation of the monuments of Thutmes III.  His interest in the use of computer science in archaeeology goes back to the 1980's, when he encoded the decoration of 12000 blocks dating to the time of Amenhotep IV - Akhenaten, discovered reused in the 9th pylon at Karnak. The database was then used under artificial intelligence techniques with the output of hundreds of virtual reconstructions belonging to the first temple dedicated to the god Aten.

In 1989, Philippe Martinez joined for two years a team of computer engineers working at Electricity of France's R&D department, working on a 3D reconstruction of the ancient egyptian temples of Karnak and Luxor. The result of this work was published in a book to which Philippe Martinez specifically contributed a chapter on the use of 3D modelling in archaeological hypothesis testing. He was also at the time able to test different remote sensing technologies, trying to encompass them in the multimedia documentation toolbox he is trying to put together for archaeologists.  While remaining an archaeologist at heart Philippe Martinez began to work on different methodological topics such as the use of relational databases and of digital graphical tools, such as digital phography and video, vector drawing nd imaging tools, from site data-gathering and sampling to fit to print publication, through the different stages of archaeological and historical studies.

In 1995, Philippe Martinez joined for the second time Electricity of France R&D department, working on cultural heritage projects in France, Greece and Jordan. He was then able to be one of the first archaeologist to use 3D scanning in the digital documentation and 3D reconstruction of the Cosquer Cave, the famous Tholos in the greek sanctuary at Delphi, and the temple of Zeus at the roman site of Jerash.  Philippe Martinez was also among the first to experiment the use of multimedia documentation in this field in the CD-Rom he published ( "Aux Sources de l'Egypte Ancienne") and is still exploring these possibilities in the field of comunication to a wider audience. After different scientific articles published in jourrnals, he published in 1999 a general presentation of the ancient egyptian civilization.

Philippe Martinez joined the staff of the Laboratoire d'Archeologie in Ecole normale superieure in Paris where, in charge of the computer division, he tries to move forward in his methodological quest. Using 3D reconstruction in the field of monumental archaeology since ten years, he is also trying to work on the very idea of digital epigraphy in the hope of applying fast, reliable, robust and cost effective documentation techniques to the thousands of monuments actually disappearing in Egypt as well as in the rest of the world. His currennt mission takes him around the mediterranean, in Italy, Tunisia and Egypt.

Since 1999, Philippe Martinez has joined the ECHO Project (Egyptian Cultural Heritage Operation) as lead archaeologist and taken active participation in the different projects led under the banner of Insight.


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News & Events

The Smithsonian Museum's work in 3D Digitization. INSIGHT Board member Kelly Roberson brought the Smithsonian's recent 3D work to our attention, including publicly accessible data for 3D printing similar to INSIGHT's Maya Skies Archive (  To read more about the Smithsonian's plans, please see this news story:


Current Questions in Authenticity. This day-long symposium at UC Berkeley will be held February 3, 2012, as is open to the public.  Several people on the INSIGHT team will be participating.  The event is free and open to the public; RSVP to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


INSIGHT's Kevin Cain is serving on the International Scientific Committee for VAST 2011. The International Symposium of Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Culture Heritage (VAST) conference will be held October 18-21, 2011, in Prato, Tuscany, Italy.  Kevin previously co-chaired VAST 2004, gave the keynote for VAST 2003 and has presented papers in other years.

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Contact Info

the Institute for Study and Integration of Heritage Techniques

P.O. Box 1166, Berkeley CA  94701-2166

Mission statement

INSIGHT works to document and visualize the human record.

For cultural heritage specialists, INSIGHT acts as a bridge between the disciplines of archaeology, art history, computer graphics, and computer vision.  For the general public, INSIGHT fosters interest in archaeology through the lively digital media we create.