Hardware and Set up


Method One:

Photogrammetry: Photogrammetry finds the three-dimensional structure of a subject by analysing the sequential change of position of the camera sensor relative to the subject.

Equipment List:

  • Canon DSLR D60
  • Canon DSLR D70
  • Spare Battery packs for cameras
  • Tripod
  • Light Box x 2
  • Lighting
  • Turntable
  • Photogrammetric Scale Bars
  • SD Cards
  • Lenses
  • Black drop cloth
  • Chalk Powder
  • Latex Gloves
  • Floral foam
  • Multi-socket Extension leads
  • Wooden plinths

Objects Captured

  • Cecilia Statuette
  • IHS Altar Stone
  • The Empress of Austria Vestments
  • Votive Offering One
  • Votive Offering Two
  • Votive Offering Three
  • Egyptian Statuette
  • Penal Cross
  • “Power” Ciborium
  • Ceremonial Chalice (And Patten)



  • Prepare turntable.
  • Prepare additional support.
  • Change backdrop.
  • Test shots and adjust lighting if required

Number and angle of images:

  • Isolated interior object:
  • Shoot at a hemisphere around object
  • Overlap 60% or more
  • Photograph image at three separate elevations
  • 20-30 images per elevation.
  • Additional images for the more detailed areas of the statuette including the hands and back of the neck.

Method Two:

Close Range 3D Laser Scanning

Equipment List

  • NextEngine 3D Laser Scanner
  • Auto Drive (turn table)
  • Part Gripper

Objects Captured

  • Old Altar Stone
  • Ivory Statuette



  • The object was placed on the auto drive – it did not need to be secured using the part gripper.
  • Align the object on the turntable using the viewing window to ensure that the object is visible within the scanning field.

General Comments

The equipment was transported and set up on the morning of the data capturing. The initial set-up of the 3D laser scanner and two photo stations took approximately one hour, including testing: the museum lighting posed challenges and lighting was adjusted and a number test captures were carried performed.  When considering where to set up the work stations access to power points was a key consideration. Once started, data capture continued at a good pace.  The team had a high degree of practicality and initiative, those who were capturing applied themselves to the task, those who were not assisted.

The equipment set-up was adjusted throughout the day, in line with the requirements of the individual items. For example, many of the small items required additional supports. This support was provided by floral foam (oasis). Wooden blocks were also used as plinths for smaller objects.  There were several objects with degrees of reflection, particularly the Chalice, Ciborium, and several wooden crosses.  In these cases, lighting was adjusted where possible.

The background was also altered for individual items. This was carried out with the next step of data processing in mind.  Lighter objects such as the ivory ciborium required a black backdrop to facilitate masking.

The largest piece captured using photogrammetry was a full set of Vestments. This was captured by moving a large floor exhibit, with kind permission from the curator, temporarily placing the mannequin holding the Vestments into a well lit area. The vestments continued to be problematic due to the surrounding exhibits causing light pollution. A large heavy black cloth was used to provide backdrop.

There were no weights brought to counter balance the studio lights, which are top heavy. Personal backpacks were required to support the base.  Latex gloves were brought on the day.  However, the curator provided the team with cotton gloves which were worn when handling the items as he was worried that the latex gloves may leave powder residue on the objects.  The curator handled the more fragile items, such as the ivory ciborium.

Prior to data capture, the team selected ten objects of interest and included a number suggested by Dr. McKeith.  The project manager set out a schedule for all ten objects to be scanned or photographed. One the day, the team captured data for fourteen objects.  However, not all the previously selected were captured.  This was due to practical issues. For example, the team had hoped to capture the museum’s amputee Jesus statue. However, it was not possible to move the statue on the day and there was not sufficient space around the object to create a reliable dataset.

The initial intention was to use the 3D laser scanner to capture four objects. However, scanning took significantly longer than originally anticipated and two objects were captured using the scanner.

Working in a Cultural Heritage Institute

Source: http://maynoothcollege.ie/national-museum-maynooth/
Source: http://maynoothcollege.ie/national-museum-maynooth/

To follow our progress go to Twitter: @Ecclesiology3D

This post is the first of a series of posts detailing my experience of working with the ecclesiological material in St. Patrick’s College Museum.  The primary goal of this research was to enable students participating in AFF622: Digital Heritage: Theories, Methods and Challenges as part of the MA in Digital Humanities, An Foras Feasa, National University Maynooth, to develop the practical skills required for working with photogrammetry and 3D scanning to explore a cultural heritage scenario.

The research deliverables included selecting and capturing appropriate ecclesiastical artefacts.  Furthermore, students were expected to design and carry out an effective workflow for 3D recording cultural heritage projects including: Capturing, processing, online publishing, 3D printing, and writing a report

The research was carried out in cooperation with the National Science and Ecclesiology Museum, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth.  Working alongside the curator, Dr. Niall McKeith, and under the guidance of the course coordinator, Dr. Konstantinos Papadopoulos, the project team captured data for fourteen objects from the Museum’s collection of ecclesiastical artefacts in November 2016.

Many of the observations made here can be applied to other similar digitisation projects.  It should be noted that the hardware and the software used by the team were prespecified by the course coordinator and therefore, discussions surrounding their use did not include resource acquisition.  Details will be provided in later posts.  A list of factors that may need to be addressed by other projects is included at the end of the section.

Much of what follows will highlight the importance of thorough project planning in advance of data capture.

Digitisation is above all an access strategy.  Like many smaller cultural heritage museums, the opening hours of The Museum of Ecclesiology are very restricted.  At present, the institution does not provide access to the collection in digital forms.  Considering the limited opening hours of the museum at St Patrick’s College, digitisation will open new modes of access to the collection.

Public access to artefacts is an important factor when considering which objects to digitise and when to digitise.  In a cultural heritage institution with regular public access the project should aim to minimise its impact to the institution’s other activities.  Coordination between project members and museum staff is essential.

A further consideration in this regard in the amount of time assigned to data capturing.  Quality control throughout the data capturing process is essential.  Repeated digitisation should be avoided and is often not an option.

Most museums will not have the appropriate physical environment and hardware and software systems in place.  In relation to St. Patrick’s College Museum the lighting was poor and the physical environment was uncomfortable due to the temperature.  The hardware and the necessary software had to be transported to the museum for the data capturing.

Source: https://maynoothcollegemuseum.wordpress.com/history-of-the-museum/
Source: https://maynoothcollegemuseum.wordpress.com/history-of-the-museum/

Ideally, original items should be handled as little as possible.  Where necessary, appropriate precautions were taken when handling original items: team members wore cotton gloves and the curator handled the very fragile objects such as the Ivory Ciborium.  When working with the Laser Scanner, the user manual recommends using powder for shiny or metallic surfaces.  Similar recommendations are made for these items when using photogrammetry.  It is unlikely that you will be permitted to use powder on original artefacts.  The same can be said for the use of alignment markers.

The metadata models implemented by the project were restricted by the prespecified online publishing platforms (for further detail see Online Publishing).  The historical and contextual information for many of the ecclesiological materials at St. Patrick’s Museum is extremely limited, in many cases the provenance is unknown.  Digitisation in the absence of annotation lacks context and meaning.  A project should consider the digitisation process as a unified whole, focusing on those objects which are best suited to the technology being employed may limit the overall results if there is insufficient data on the object itself.  The approach taken by the current project was to research the individual items.  However, this may not be in the scope of similar digitisation projects and it should be taken into consideration when deciding which items to digitise.