Articles

CR hub: CyArk preserving cultural heritage


CyArk is a non-profit organization based in Oakland, California and our mission is to capture, archive and share the world’s cultural heritage. Lot of the sites are hard to access and the greatest majority of people will never get to see them in person, so being able to access a digital version of the sites, which we strive to make available. It’s very important to us that people can play with it, get inspired, perhaps one day travel to these places. Since 2003, since the inception of CyArk, we’ve been using laser scanning, or lidar, as our primary capture technology. So, while laser scanning is great for capturing the underlying geometry of a site, photogrammetry is fantastic at capturing surface-level details. So imagine the painting of a fresco or like the cracks and everything that, you know, is visible to naked eye. And through photogrammetry we can produce super accurate 3D models that can then be quickly and easily shared with community on the web. So RealityCapture is the first software of its kind that is allowing the users to combine laser scanning with photogrammetry and so we can leverage the power and accuracy of the laser and then create meshes from it and on the top of that, create super high resolution textures using photogrammetry. We’ve been working with RealityCapture for about 2 years now. We were recently in Australia, in Melbourne, documenting the Royal exhibition building, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Some of the main feature of the Royal exhibition building are the frescos that are inside the dome and they are really high, about 30 meters from the ground. We’ve captured them using Phase One camera, as well as drone images. The lack of GPS data made it hard to fly the drone, so we had to go manual, which took 2-3 people, you know watching the drone closely, making sure we wouldn’t hit the wall. So the capture team came back from the field with roughly 2TB worth of raw data, about 10,000 images and 433 scans, which went together into one RC project. Prior to RC, we’d do a lot of organization, given the high number of inputs we had to deal with and that comes down to lots of naming, grouping images together by file type, drone versus cameras, but also different features of the building go together. And we do that ‘cause we know RC works with components and so we pre-group all these inputs, knowing that they will align together into a single component, and then we go from smaller components into bigger, larger ones until we have all the inputs we need into one RC project file. Our collaboration with Capturing Reality is allowing us to accomplish our core mission of supplying conservation drawings to the site where we work, but also creating the immersive experiences of the places to share with the world.

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