Crowdsourcing a Virtual Duke Chapel


This is Duke University. Duke Chapel is no stranger to visitors with
cameras, but on May 17th, a week after its grand reopening, the chapel welcomed a unique group
of photographers. Led by Edward Triplett, a CLIR postdoctoral
fellow in the Wired! Lab, the group was there to document the chapel’s newly restored interior
using photogrammetry, a technique for creating virtual three-dimensional models from two-dimensional
photographs. “Photogrammetry– the way I always describe
it is, it’s a reversal of the photographic process. In photography, we are trying to
take the three-dimensional world and we capture it in two dimensions. Photogrammetry uses overlapping
photos and triangulates where you had to be standing and with what particular lens, et
cetera, in order to take a particular two- dimensional photo and by overlapping these
photos and putting them through an algorithm, we get some version of the three-dimensional
world back. Photogrammetry has been around a long time, but as I think I kind of talked
about, they used to do this by hand. Now we are very fortunate– we don’t. It used to
be a little bit more labor intensive. Some of these new algorithms and the graphics processors
that are just really, really spiking in terms of power right now. Some of these things are
making it so much easier to work. Now we have every nuance, every fold, every mould of the
surface of a building. It was kind of an interesting moment where all the restoration had been
completed and we’re actually trying to get a nice three-dimensional snapshot of all of
the work that had been done and so that potentially we can use this as a document for whenever
there are changes to the building, if there needs to be some kind of moulding that is
maybe deteriorated down at some time in the future, we actually have a three-dimensional
idea of what that piece of stone really potentially looked like.” Produced by Duke University.

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