Photogrammetry & 3D Models

So, this week I learned a new word, Photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is a process of achieving measurements from photographs. These measurements can be used to determine points of overlap which can then be used to make a 3D model of an object.

I played a bit with a tool that uses photogrammetry to build 3D models called 123dCatch. For this tool, one is required to take photographs every 5 degrees or so around and above the object. In some cases, the more photographs the better. I built a model of my Dalek salt and pepper shaker, and you can check out my model right here. It is not perfect, and there are some gaps in the imaging. This was probably because I did not take enough good photographs (I couldn’t really get a good angle on some areas), and as a result, the program could not find enough points of overlap which produced the gaps and the garbled-look of parts of the model.

123dCatch is the tool that we will be using to make the 3D models for our augmented reality coffee table book based on the Air Canada collection at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology. This week in class, we tested the tool on a number of different kind of objects; like a soup can, a toy car, different kinds of bottles, etc. We did this so we could see what kind of objects make good models and which ones do not. What we found is that objects that are solid colours or reflective (i.e. clear plastic or glass) do not work well. Good models are also dependent on enough background noise to find points of overlap that will knit the photographs together.

When the models are done well they are awesome! However, I am left feeling that our printed book must not focus too much on the models, but on the objects themselves. So, I will end this post with a quote from Robert Warden’s article, “Towards a New Era of Cultural-Heritage Recording and Documentation”

As our focus is shifted from our heritage to our tools, we can become separated from our heritage, and our understanding of it can become diluted. As we anticipate the next round of technology, we should be mindful that it is our concern for cultural heritage and its documentation that should drive our embrace of new tools and not the tools themselves. (10) 

It is something to mull over while we are considering our narrative layouts and where to include the augmented sections with 3D models.

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