Group makes 3-D backups of world landmarks (Update)

October 21, 2013 by Raphael Satter
In this photo provided by CyArk, on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, an image generated by 3D laser scan data, shows a perspective of Chichen Itza, in Mexico. We all know to back up our files and photos, but what about our castles and churches? A nonprofit named CyArk has created digital copies of more than 100 of the world's best-known monuments, mapping Roman ruins, ancient statues, and even an entire island. Now it plans 400 more, with the goal of preserving the world's most important sites against war, wear, and the impact of climate change. (AP Photo/CyArk)

We all know to back up our files and photos, but what about our castles and churches?

A nonprofit named CyArk has created digital copies of more than 100 of the world's best-known monuments, mapping Roman ruins, ancient statues, and even an entire island.

Now it plans 400 more, with the goal of digitally preserving the world's most important sites against war, wear, and the impact of climate change.

"There is never going to be enough time or money to preserve everything," CyArk co-founder Barbara Kacyra said Monday at a launch event at the Tower of London.

"If you can't physically save something, your next best thing is to digitally preserve it."

Oakland, California-based CyArk works by using 3-D laser scanners, radar, and a host of other technologies to create detailed maps of famous monuments—from Mayan pyramids in Chichen Itza to the Leaning Tower of Pisa—measuring nooks and nicks with millimeter precision.

Not only do the lasers capture minute damage invisible to most cameras, the 3-D data can be used to create hyper-realistic models and flyover programs used by tourists and educators.

Master copies of the measurements are kept by Iron Mountain Inc., which stores some 2 petabytes' worth of data on magnetic tape in its secure underground archive at the bottom of a former limestone mine in Pennsylvania.

Kacyra said the project was born out of the heartbreak of seeing the Taliban pulverize the Afghan Buddha statues in 2001, but Gustavo Araoz, a senior preservationist who's helping CyArk draw up a list of its next 400 sites, says similar destruction is playing out in slow motion across the globe.

"This happens every day at a smaller and much less dramatic scale," he said.

There's already some evidence that the preservation project is paying dividends. Ugandan diplomat Sam Muhwezi told The Associated Press that a 3-D model drawn up by CyArk was being used to help restore the country's fire-damaged royal tomb complex.

"It's the perfect example of why this kind of project is important," he said.

Explore further: Mapping Dino Footprints in 3-D

More information: CyArk: archive.cyark.org/

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cly3d
1 / 5 (1) Oct 22, 2013
A couple of years ago, I'd written about how Hollywood is wasting a golden opportunity when they "fudge" pixels by doing 2D to 3D conversions in films, when they should be capturing in stereoscopic 3d (Laser scans, Stereoscopic principal photography).

They would be doing a service to humanity by such background documentation of historic architecture when they film at such locations.
I eventually included it as a chapter in the book "Think in 3D", but the chapter is accessible online in it's entirety as idea seeding.
realvision (dot) ae/blog/2011/11/laser-scanning-and-digital-assets-in-your-next-3d-movie/

-Spam filter won't let me post the url

Good to see an organization like CyArk doing such projects.

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