“Recent improvements in laser rangefinder technology, together with algorithms developed at Stanford for combining multiple range and color images, allow us to reliably and accurately digitize the external shape and surface characteristics of many physical objects. Examples include machine parts, cultural artifacts, and design models for the manufacturing, moviemaking, and video game industries.
As an application of this technology, a team of 30 faculty, staff, and students from Stanford University and the University of Washington spent the 1998-99 academic year in Italy scanning the sculptures and architecture of Michelangelo. As a side project, we also scanned 1,163 fragments of the Forma Urbis Romae, a giant marble map of ancient Rome…Our goal is to produce a set of 3D computer models - one for each statue, architectural setting, and map fragment we scanned - and to make these models available to scholars worldwide.”
“The motivations behind this project are to advance the technology of 3D scanning, to place this technology in the service of the humanities, and to create a long-term digital archive of some important cultural artifacts.”
“On the left is a photograph of Michelangelo's David. On the right is a computer rendering made from a geometric model. Constructed in December, 1999 at a resolution of 1.0 mm, the model is watertight and contains 4 million polygons. For a brief overview of the steps required to build this model, click here.”