Digitisation of the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

2020 – ongoing

ARCHiVe started the large-scale digital recording of the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Intended as the starting point for research, educational, and preservation projects, this ambitious challenge has already proven valuable for the development of accessibility tools and academic research.

Tonal map image of the Island © Factum Foundation for ARCHiVe
Point-cloud render of the Island © Factum Foundation for ARCHiVe
3D render of the façade of San Giorgio Maggiore Church © Factum Foundation for ARCHiVe
Point-cloud render of the Longhena staircase © Factum Foundation for ARCHiVe
Render of the Longhena staircase © Factum Foundation for ARCHiVe
3D render of the Longhena staircase © Factum Foundation for ARCHiVe
Point-cloud of the cloister of San Giorgio Maggiore © Factum Foundation for ARCHiVe
Tonal map image of the Island © Factum Foundation for ARCHiVe

the project

ARCHiVe has collaborated since the beginning with Cini’s Research Institutes and Centres, providing working tools and know-how for proper digital acquisition and documents management.

From July 2020, a team from Factum Foundation spent twelve days in Venice recording the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, focusing especially on the monumental areas, and documenting the conservation state of the buildings. After the acqua alta of November 2019 reached the highest recorded level in fifty years, ARCHiVe’s aim of efficiently and effectively aiding the preservation of Venice’s fragile cultural heritage acquired a new note of urgency.

This ARCHiVe project, linked with EPFL’s Venice Time Machine, involved the collaboration of the three partners.

During January 2022 the team from Factum Foundation continued with the large-scale digitisation of the Island recording the Teatro Verde and the Vatican Chapels in the woods of Fondazione Giorgio Cini.

objectives

The aim of the project is to demonstrate that technologies such as aerial and ground-based photogrammetry and LiDAR recording could eventually be employed to digitally acquire the whole of Venice or other cities, both for preservation and enhancement purposes.

 

Methodologies

1. Recording the monumental area of San Giorgio Maggiore in 2020

The first day saw the recording of the interior of the Palladian church, the apse and the inside of the bell tower, while the following days were dedicated to the exterior of the church and the crypt.

The island was then recorded from more than 600 different recording spots, from which a massive 60,000 million-point cloud was generated.

2. LiDAR recording in 2020

Buildings and spaces recorded with LiDAR 3D scanning in 2020:

Main docks, Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore (interior and crypt), Conclave, Campanile, Chiostro Palladiano, Scala di Longhena, Presidenza of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Cenacolo Palladiano, Sala delle Fotografie, Chiostro Cipressi, Sala Carnelutti, Manica Lunga, Sale Convitto (exterior), Sala Arazzi, Padiglione Capriate, Piscina, ARCHiVe (first floor), Auditorium Lo Squero.

3. Photogrammetry recording in 2020

Architecture, sculptures and art pieces recorded with photogrammetry in 2020:

Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore (facade elements as niche sculptures, shield, text, and interiors elements as altar, choir seating, lectern), Chiostro Palladiano (North and West wall), Scalone Monumentale del Longhena (including the niche sculptures and the ground floor ling), the Well of the Chiostro dei Cipressi, Majolica vases in the Secretary General’s offices, sculptures in the gardens (including Ezra Pound’s head sculpted by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska), Il sogno di Giacobbe by Valentin Lefèvre, Manica Lunga, Sala del Soffitto.

4. Recording the Vatican Chapels and Teatro Verde in 2022

The team spent two days recording the Vatican Chapels, inside, outside and from above.
After the first 3D recording carried out in January 2022 (using LiDAR and aerial drone-based photogrammetry), a second 3D recording of the Teatro Verde was carried out in June 2022 to fill in missing data and to enable a better integration of the LiDAR and photogrammetry, but with the main intent of including the Vatican Chapels into the recording of the entire island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Factum Foundation team digitised not only the entire area of the open-air amphitheatre (1,400 square metres with a seating capacity of 1,500 people), but also part of the understage area (12 individual dressing rooms, 8 rooms for minor actors or choirs, deposits and storerooms for equipment).

5. Post-processing and results

The majority of the post processing is completed and a 3D model of the whole Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice is being prepared.

The creation of virtual tours or interactive viewers based on this data will improve remote accessibility and prove valuable for didactic purposes.

Technologies

The technologies used were: LiDAR scanning (using a Leica RTC360), Ground-based photogrammetry (using a Sony A7Riv camera), Drone DJI Air 2S.

LiDAR 3D Scanning

LiDAR is a 3D recording method that uses laser pulses to measure distance. It produces a 'point cloud' of xyz coordinates, which can be turned into a 3D model. LiDAR complements other recording method[...]

Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry is a 3D recording technique that uses 2D images to create a digital 3D model of an object or surface. It involves taking hundreds of overlapping photographs and processing them using sp[...]

Replica Project: building ARCHiVe

Replica table © Noemi La Pera
Replica flashes © Francesca Occhi
Replica aluminium structure © Francesca Occhi
ARCHiVe team using Replica © Joan Porcel

2015 – 2018

This project gave rise to ARCHiVe, marking the first collaborative effort among the three partner organizations (Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Factum Foundation, and EPFL DHLAB). It tested the synergy of these entities for the first time, setting an ambitious goal achievable only through the collective effort of all involved. 

The Project

The Fondazione Giorgio Cini preserves an extremely rich iconographic photo library, encompassing local and international art history, architecture, urbanism, and culture. It comprises approximately 730,000 photographic positives stored in the photo libraries of the Institute of Art History. 

The Replica project addresses two crucial issues: 

  • How to rapidly digitise this vast number of documents while preserving the original heritage and ensuring optimal technological accuracy. 
  • How to make the resulting database quickly searchable without the necessity of relying solely on textual search methods. 

To meet the first of these needs, Factum has specifically designed a circular scanner (Replica 360 recto/verso) for digitising the Historic Photo Library in the most efficient way possible. Additionally, Factum has equipped Replica with software that allows for the storage of data and metadata (such as the file and its archival position, ID number, and other essential details) during the digitisation process. In this manner, Fondazione Giorgio Cini has initiated the creation of an extensive database of images and information. This substantial volume of data is being stored and analysed by the Digital Humanities Lab at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. 

 In order to develop a geometrically-based search engine for this database, DHLAB team conducted their research focusing on recognising patterns of similarities in the pictures of the Historic Photo Library. DHLAB incorporated one of the most advanced technologies in artificial intelligence, known as ‘deep learning,’ into the process. By leveraging a vast network of artificial neurons, a capability only recently achievable in image processing, various forms of visual entities can be simultaneously analysed in a unified approach. 

In the realm of machine learning experimentation, DHLAB also devised an automatic segmentation process that separates text and images, subsequently annotating them. 

In fact, the Historic Photo Library comprises thousands of photographic positives dating from the beginning of the 20th century until the 90s, affixed to cardboards, with each displaying additional information such as the subject, location, date, and the artist of the depicted artwork. 

objectives

The aim of the project is the digitisation and enhancement of Fondazione Giorgio Cini Photo Libraries through innovative mass recording and analysis techniques.

The overarching objective is to enable the online availability of exceptionally large archives. The enhanced computational capacity, tailored to handle specific data, facilitates user searches at various, increasingly refined levels.

Methodologies

1. PRELIMINARY PHASE

The Fondazione Cini conducted a comprehensive check and reordering of the documents stored in the photo libraries. The team subsequently created inventories and tools for metadata collection (thanks to an XML file system associated with the documents), and ID numbers were applied to the back of the positives or their supports.

2. DEVELOPMENT OF THE RECORDING SYSTEM

The team at Factum developed the Scanner Replica 360 Recto/Verso, a unique recording system specifically designed for this project. The prototype of the system was conceived and constructed in Madrid, encompassing both hardware and software components, before being transported to and installed in Venice.

3. RECORDING PHASE

Fondazione Giorgio Cini formulated a dedicated digitisation workflow for the mass recording and storage project.

Within two years from the project’s initiation, the Cini team successfully accomplished the digital acquisition of the Historic Photo Library (671,564 images), the Bruno Alfieri Photo Library (2,073 images), and the Bernard Berenson Photo Library (30,275 images).

4. POST-PROCESSING AND DATA ANALYSIS

EPFL’s research led to the post-processing of the documents, which encompassed segmentation (utilising dhSegment, a segmentation library for complex documents developed at the DHLAB) and the storage of information present on each piece. Simultaneously, the team developed a geometrically based search engine for the established database.

Results

The aim of Fondazione Giorgio Cini is to proceed with the project by digitising the additional photo libraries stored in the Biblioteca Manica Lunga and to make this heritage accessible online.

Technologies

Replica

The Replica 360 Recto/Verso is a cutting edge recording system designed and realised by Factum Foundation. Its first prototype was conceived for Fondazione Cini back in 2015 for the Replica Project wh[...]

Digitisation of Palazzo Cini Gallery

The Lucida 3D Scanner recording the surface of one of the Polittico Griffoni panels © Joan Porcel
Palazzo Cini during the digitisation process © Joan Porcel
Gabriel Scarpa recording the colour with composite photography © Joan Porcel
Unframing one of the Polittico Griffoni panels before recording © Joan Porcel
The Lucida 3D Scanner recording Pontormo's Portrait of Two Friends © Joan Porcel
Unframing paintings before recording © Joan Porcel
Unframing panels before recording © Joan Porcel
Palazzo Cini during the digitisation process © Joan Porcel

2023 – Ongoing

Thanks to the collaboration between the Fondazione Giorgio Cini’s Istituto di Storia dell’Arte and Factum Foundation, this unique group of artworks that formed the core of Vittorio Cini’s art collection are being digitised in high-resolution.

ÉQUIPE

  • Luca Massimo Barbero | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Carlos Bayod Lucini | Factum Foundation
  • Costanza Blaskovic | Factum Foundation
  • Chiara Casarin | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Carolina Gris | Factum Foundation
  • Marina Luchetti | Factum Foundation
  • Gabriel Scarpa | Factum Foundation

THE PROJECT

This project is part of the three- and two-dimensional recording plan of the collections of Fondazione Giorgio Cini in high resolution for preservation, dissemination and study purposes, increasing at the same time the knowledge of the heritage. Moreover, the outputs are intended to improve the accessibility of the heritage both for schools’ students and scholars and for a greater public.

In February 2023 Factum Foundation completed the recording of the paintings collection of Palazzo Cini Gallery (47 paintings), coordinating with the staff of the Technical Department of Fondazione Cini and the Institute of Art History, and based on the information provided by the director of the Institute, responsible for the Cini art collection. All used systems are non-contact, high resolution methods especially developed or adapted for the field of art documentation, completely safe for the original artworks. The recording systems include the following: Lucida 3D Scanner (for capturing the surface texture of paintings and other low-relief objects); panoramic composite photography (for capturing the colour).

When possible, paintings have been recorded unframed, placing the canvas or panels on an easel with the surface plane perpendicular to the floor (as both the Lucida 3D scanning and the panoramic photography processes require to operate). When it was not possible to remove the frames or to unhang a painting from the wall, the team recorded the painting and frame in their usual location, adapting as much as possible the system to the requirements of each piece. In all cases, it was necessary to remove any protective glass for high resolution recording.

In June 2023, factum experts completed the post-processing of the data, giving as first result a multilayer viewer to inspect in depth both the colour surface and the 3D for each painting. The work provides an accurate database that will help monitor the conservation state of the paintings, study the works in detail both as images and physical objects and disseminate their artistic and historic value.

This will then lead to the creation of online virtual tours and didactic contents for people who are unable to come to Venice and for all scholars with disabilities. A ministerial grant application has been submitted to receive fundings to cover part of the costs of this project and to allow for further documentation.

Detail of Madonna con il Bambino, Lorenzo Costa, 1505 circa
Detail of La zuffa, Dosso Dossi, 1521-1522 circa
Colour, 3D rendering and colour+3D of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, Ercole de' Roberti, 1470-1473
Colour, 3D rendering and colour+3D of San Girolamo, Ercole de' Roberti, 1470-1473

OBJECTIVES

The 3D and colour recording of the paintings in the collection of Palazzo Cini Gallery (47 paintings), the post-processing and creation of dissemination tools for preservation and study purposes.

DEVELOPMENTS

1. Preparation

Start of the project, handling of the works for the removal of frames and protective glass from the paintings, inspection and installation of photographic equipment. 

2. Recording

Recording of the surface of paintings with Lucida scanner 3D e recording the colour of the painting with panoramic composite photography. 

3. Collecting data

Saving, optimization and post-processing of data for the creation of the multilayered viewer. 

viewer

Technologies

Lucida 3D Scanner

The Lucida 3D Scanner is a non-contact laser recording system that captures high-resolution surface texture data for low-relief surfaces. It records 3D data in 48 cm x 48 cm ’tiles’ by projecting [...]

Panoramic Composite Photography

Panoramic Composite Photography is a 2D non-contact method for capturing the color surface of objects such as works of art. A specialist version of the technique can capture accurate and high-resoluti[...]

Large Scale Digitisation Recording the Cini Collection: Tapestries

Detail of the Lucida 3D Scanner recording © Oscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation
Detail of the tapestry © Oscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation
The ARCHiVe team unrolling the tapestry © Oscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation
The Lucida 3D Scanner recording the surface of the tapestry © Oscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation
The Lucida 3D Scanner recording the surface of the tapestry © Oscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation
Detail of the Lucida 3D Scanner custom software creating a shaded render of the 3D data © Oscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation
Detail of the tapestry © Oscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation

2022

ARCHiVe has successfully concluded the first high-resolution digital recording of a significant tapestry from the Fondazione Giorgio Cini collection: The Entry into Palestine of the Army of Vespasian.

Current équipe

  • Luca Massimo Barbero | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Carlos Bayod Lucini | Factum Foundation
  • Costanza Blaskovic | Factum Foundation
  • Teresa Casado | Factum Foundation
  • Chiara Casarin | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Osama Dawod | Factum Foundation
  • Carolina Gris | Factum Foundation
  • Eduardo Lopez | Factum Foundation
  • Ilenia Maschietto | Fondazione Giorgio Cini

the project

Dated between 1470 and 1480, this Franco-Flemish tapestry, crafted from cartoons by the Master of Coëtivy, stands as one of the earliest and most pivotal pieces in the entire collection. It is part of a series depicting the destruction of Jerusalem.

Recently recognized as the right half of another textile work housed in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Lyon, the tapestry’s recording, preservation, and restoration have become top priorities for the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. The digital documentation of the tapestry’s surface marks a crucial stride in comprehending its material structure. ARCHiVe undertook a comprehensive documentation process, capturing the tapestry’s shape, texture, and color through a blend of 3D and 2D non-contact scanning technology.

objectives

The project’s objective is to facilitate the preservation, study, and dissemination of the collection’s tapestries through the utilization of digital technologies.

Developments

1. PRELIMINARY PHASE

Following a preliminary assessment and careful selection of the tapestries based on their preservation status, the chosen piece has been relocated to ARCHiVe in anticipation of the recording process. A training session was conducted for the team to adeptly handle the manipulation and unrolling of the tapestry. The tapestry was strategically positioned in a horizontal orientation on the floor, placed atop a protective cloth.

The scanner structure was then configured horizontally, facing downward to capture the surface of the tapestry consistently from a fixed distance of approximately 10 cm. This scanning apparatus was securely mounted on a bridge-like structure spanning about 4 m.

2. recording

The Factum Foundation team conducted a high-resolution 3D and colour recording of the tapestry using advanced non-contact digital technology, specifically tailored for the preservation of art and heritage. Lucida is designed to digitise the surface of low-relief objects with high precision. Composite photography produces a single colour image through the integration of multiple photographs in high resolution. The combination of these individual photographs ensures accuracy up to an average error of less than 1 pixel. It’s noteworthy that the colour recording took place separately from the 3D scanning, encompassing both the front and back of the tapestry. The camera was securely affixed to the bridge-like frame at a distance of approximately 50-70 cm. 

3. image processing

The final phase involves image processing and the development of a visualisation browser to explore the tapestry (both its color and texture) at a high resolution.

The digital acquisition of the object is crucial for accurately documenting its current state of preservation, monitoring changes over time and assessing possible restoration processes. But it is also fundamental for art historical research, as browser-based visualisation allows analysis in a completely new and enhanced way compared to the past.

Results

The recording of the tapestries constitutes a component of ARCHiVe’s initiative to digitise the entire island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. This comprehensive effort spans from the architectural level to the precise sub-millimetre scanning of particular artworks and documents within the Fondazione Giorgio Cini collections.

The result is available for online viewing through a multi-layered browser developed by Factum.

viewer

Technologies

Lucida 3D Scanner

The Lucida 3D Scanner is a non-contact laser recording system that captures high-resolution surface texture data for low-relief surfaces. It records 3D data in 48 cm x 48 cm ’tiles’ by projecting [...]

Panoramic Composite Photography

Panoramic Composite Photography is a 2D non-contact method for capturing the color surface of objects such as works of art. A specialist version of the technique can capture accurate and high-resoluti[...]