Creating digital archives of 3D artworks
Recent improvements in laser rangefinder technology, together with algorithms for combining multiple range and color images, allow us to accurately digitize the external shape and surface characteristics of many physical objects. This capability makes it possible for the first time to digitize and archive substantial bodies of three-dimensional artistic and cultural artifacts, such as statues, buildings, and archeological remains.
Although the methodologies needed to create and manage digital archives of two-dimensional artifacts have matured substantially in the last ten years, the jump from two to three dimensions poses new problems. These are problems of both scale and substance, and they touch on every aspect of digital archiving: storage, indexing, searching, distribution, viewing, and piracy protection. In this pilot project, we are focusing on selected aspects of the following subproblems of this new domain:
As of Summer, 2003, this pilot project has ended. One concrete outcome of the project is ScanView: a secure client / server rendering system that permits unlicensed users to examine 3D models, but not extract the underlying data. If you want to fly around our models of Michelangelo's statues but you don't qualify for a license, try this viewer. The other goals of the pilot project have been folded into our Digital Forma Urbis Project, recently funded by the NSF under the name, Solving the Puzzle of the Forma Urbis Romae.