Tat­jana Dzam­bazova, Au­todesk

Tat­jana Dzam­bazova, Tech­nol­ogy Whis­perer, Au­todesk

HWM (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - By Koh Wanzi

What are some of the tech­nolo­gies be­ing used in your preser­va­tion work?

To­day, you can just place a cou­ple of laser sen­sors in po­si­tion and let them go to work. The end re­sult looks like it was mod­eled, even though it’s re­ally just a point cloud, or a col­lec­tion of points in space. And be­cause the soft­ware is able to make sense of these data, you can be­gin rec­og­niz­ing de­tails from the scan like the num­ber of doors and the lo­ca­tion of but­tons on an ob­ject.

An­other ex­cit­ing tech­nique is some­thing called pho­togram­me­try, which is the process of con­vert­ing sim­ple 2D im­ages into 3D mod­els. The con­cept it­self is noth­ing new, but what’s changed now is that it can fi­nally be ap­plied prop­erly be­cause the cam­era sen­sors to­day are so good.

We have al­go­rithms that con­vert mul­ti­ple 2D im­ages into a 3D model, and the main ben­e­fit of this is that you get an ac­cu­rate snap­shot in time of the real ob­ject. Ex­perts in 3D mod­el­ing will def­i­nitely be able to repli­cate this ef­fort, but it would also be quite time-con­sum­ing. It would also never be an ex­act dig­i­tal copy of the ob­ject, and would re­ally just be an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of it.

How are these tech­niques be­ing put to use in the real world?

The Leakey fam­ily, best known for their ar­chae­o­log­i­cal work in Kenya and Tan­za­nia on hu­man an­ces­try, has un­cov­ered thou­sands of skulls and fos­sils that are vi­tal to our un­der­stand­ing of our ori­gins. How­ever, these are in the mu­seum of Nairobi, which as you can imag­ine, isn’t the most ac­ces­si­ble. That said, they are now us­ing pho­togram­me­try and tak­ing pho­tos of these fos­sils and then dig­i­tiz­ing them in­di­vid­u­ally. This has en­abled the cre­ation of beau­ti­ful 3D repli­cas, which peo­ple can study and in­ter­act with on­line. Best of all, the mod­els can be down­loaded and 3D-printed, a great help for teach­ers and stu­dents.

On a larger scale, we’ve even been able to cre­ate a com­plete 3D model of the city of Volterra, an an­cient Ital­ian city that has been in­hab­ited since 800 BC. It’s not dif­fi­cult to see how this might come in handy when plan­ning your trip, or sim­ply help you ex­pe­ri­ence a place if you’re un­able to make a trip down.

In ad­di­tion, we’ve been able to do more than just cre­ate repli­cas. The Tal­iban de­stroyed the Bamiyan Bud­dhas in 2001, but we used tourist pho­tos to recre­ate a 3D dig­i­tal model of the mon­u­ments. This is not per­fect, but it is a col­lec­tive mem­ory of sorts that pre­serves a slice of the past for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Will the abil­ity to dig­i­tize ar­ti­facts un­der­mine the value of the real thing?

Hardly. Peo­ple will not lose sight of the real thing. Few peo­ple are ac­tu­ally able or will­ing to head to these mu­se­ums or mon­u­ments, and ex­plor­ing these dig­i­tal mod­els may in­spire peo­ple to visit, so it re­ally helps with aware­ness. I ab­so­lutely be­lieve it will im­prove the way we learn about our world and the past be­cause ev­ery­thing can be ex­pe­ri­enced with a greater de­gree of in­ti­macy and ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

It also pro­motes shar­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion as re­searchers can now pool what they have. There will no longer be hoard­ing of dif­fer­ent parts of re­lated ar­ti­facts, and peo­ple can share dig­i­tal mod­els with each other to get the com­plete pic­ture.

“I ab­so­lutely be­lieve it will im­prove the way we learn about our world and the past be­cause ev­ery­thing can be ex­pe­ri­enced with a greater de­gree of in­ti­macy and ac­ces­si­bil­ity.” Tat­jana Dzam­bazova

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