Emergency Documentation Kits for At-Risk Heritage
Using Photogrammetry to Rapidly Capture At-Risk Heritage in the Middle East
About the Project:
- Role: Digital Production Manager, Video Producer, CyArk
- Technology: Photogrammetry
- Partners: UNESCO, ICOMOS, National Center for Preservation, Technology, and Training (NCPTT)
In 2015, I led a project with a team to create inexpensive photogrammetry kits for the rapid documentation of at-risk heritage in the Middle East. The emergency kits contained photographic hardware and software as well as a basic "How-To" guide with informational videos on how to setup, capture, and process photogrammetric data (videos below). Through this project we had the opportunity to partner with UNESCO and ICOMOS and conduct several documentation trainings with heritage professionals in Beirut Lebanon. These heritage professionals have important access to at-risk World Heritage sites in Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Northern Africa. The goal of this project is to have an accurate 3D archive of each heritage site to ensure risk preparedness, as well as serve as a recovery/reconstruction tool once the much anticipated peace returns to the region. Thus far the teams have been able to capture 5 sites in Damascus Syria and is looking to continue documentation of sites in the years to come.
How-to Videos: Setup, Capture, Post-processing
What is Photogrammetry and How Did We Create the Emergency Kits?
Photogrammetry is the science of making accurate measurements of surface geometry from stereo-images. By taking multiple photos of an object or building with at least a 60% overlap, photogrammetry software (we use agisoft) can detect X, Y, and Z or depth information and use this to build an exact 3D model with the data. In the R+D phase of the project, we wanted to figure out how to make photogrammetry both accessible while making sure that teams could accurately capture and process complex 3D data (some of the buildings are enormous!). We started with a "How-To" guide with text information but quickly realized that for many of our teams, English was a second or third language. We decided that easy to read directions through images would be our best bet (IKEA was our model). Once the guide was complete we started to storyboard quick videos for the set-up, capture, and processing of the photogrammetic data. By taking a step-by-step approach for each process, we hoped that our testers, who had never done photogrammetry capture before, would find it easy (and they did). As for the kit itself we included: a DSLR camera, 24mm lens (best to use for buildings or larger structures/objects), 50mm lens (best to use for objects or smaller structures/architectural details), an extra battery, a 64 SD card, compact tripod, GPS receiver, shutter remote, 3-meter scale, color chart, a disto (this helps to calculate scale of the object or building and keep our distance away from the object/building consistent), USB stick with informational videos, a SD card reader (in case your computer does not have one-it plugs into any USB port), rugged hard drive to store data from the field (we tested a drop from 10 feet with no data loss), and finally a notebook for site notes and pen all fit within a pelican protective case. The total cost of the kit came to around $2,000 and through the generous support of UNESCO and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT)