Digitizing the Objects

In order to develop this digital collection, the students of the program were divided into groups of 2-3. Each group digitized one object and familiarized themselves with the history and background of the object they chose. During this process, students learned 3D digitisation and modelling. They learned how to use the tools and methods needed to digitise the collection, which included photogrammetry (explained more in depth below), processing software like Agisoft Metashape and online 3D repositories like Sketchfab.

Students got to work with computational imaging, a field in computer science that studies the computational extraction of information from digital photographs that has democratized the preservation and dissemination of heritage. Using these newly learned skills engaged in practice sessions of photogrammetry to prepare for the actual sessions at Centre Céramique with their heritage objects. After these sessions, the students used the photogrammetry software, Agisoft Metashape, to process their photographs and create a 3D model. These models were then uploaded to Sketchfab, to display the entire digitized collection.

The Creation Process

After taking photos of the object from all angles, Agisoft Metashape converts them into 3D models (Agisoft Metashape, 2023). The process of creating a 3D model can be divided into seven steps.

  1. Photos are imported to the software.
  2. The user has to assign masks to the areas of the picture, removing things that are irrelevant to the object. 
  3. The software aligns the pictures by estimating the position and the orientation of the pictures in relation to the object. 
  4. A ‘dense point cloud’ is created by matching the features shown in the aligned images.
  5. These points get converted into a continuous mesh, which can then be refined and optimized until it accurately represents the surface of the object.
  6. In the texturing phase, the original photos are projected into the mesh to create a photorealistic texture on the final model. 
  7. The 3D model can be exported in various formats such as .OBJ, .FBX or it can be directly uploaded to Sketchfab.

One of the objects in the final (texturing) phase of modelling,
displayed on Agisoft Metashape

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Claudia adjusting camera settings
Sjoerd Aarts and Astrid Smeets preparing to showcase objects
Bertia and Hannariin handling the stamp
Bertia rotating the object to get all angles
Costas explaining how to improve the 3D model on Sketchfab
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This is the process of creating digital 3D models from photographs. To create a 3D model, the object needs to be photographed from all angles. To maintain consistent lighting, it is recommended to use a turntable in a light box. With enough overlap between the photos, the software is able to align them and derive a 3D model. The accuracy of the resulting models depends on the quality of the photographs, the resolution of the camera and also the processing methods applied at a later stage in the software (Linder, 2018).

It is an online platform for publishing, sharing, and exploring 3D models as well as VR and AR content (Jacobs, 2022). After uploading a model to the platform, its appearance can be optimized and customized by adjusting lighting and background settings, and adding annotations and animations. The 3D models are organized in different categories like architecture, cultural heritage & history or science & technology. The website gives museums the chance to display their entire collection. In our collaboration with CC, we digitized a selection of their exhibits and displayed them.

Agisoft Metashape is a software application for photogrammetry and 3D modelling that we used to derive 3D models from the photos we took of the objects. It is particularly used in the field of archaeology and cultural heritage documentation (Kingsland, 2020). To create a 3D model, several steps need to be followed such as assigning masks to the images, creating a dense point cloud and texturing the final model (Agisoft Metashape, 2023). The whole creation process and the usage of Agisoft Metashape is described here.