Lucida scanner

Designed and developped by Manuel Franquelo
Built by Factum Arte

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A 30 minute video following the origin and development of Lucida scanner.

Manuel Franquelo, the artist and engineer who is behind the conception of the scanner.

From the general conception to the smallest detail, everything in this system has been purpose-built and programmed by Manuel Franquelo to provide solutions to the specific problems we have faced in ten years we have been scanning paintings and other surfaces that require the highest accuracy and resolution.

The fundamental principle of the Lucida scanner, fairly well understood by anyone familiar with these systems, is based on a process of triangulation to obtain the data. A laser stripe similar to a bar code reader is projected onto the object and, as it travels over the surface, the deviations to the line of light, produced by the relief, are recorded by two USB video cameras. As our specific requirements directed the design and engineering process some beautiful solutions emerged with a poetry and elegence of their own.

The Lucida is seen here recording a three dimensional routed image of 'Head' by Henry Hudson.

The design process

The type of research and development carried out to bring this project into reality underpins all the work Factum Arte does. Patrick Blackett (1897-1974), the former head of Imperial College London, socialist and nuclear physicist wrote:

"The experimental physicist must be a jack-of-all-trades, a versatile but amateur craftsman. He must blow glass and turn metal, though he could never earn his living as a glass blower nor even be classed as a skilled mechanic; he must carpenter, photograph, wire electric circuits and be a master of gadgets of all kinds; he may find invaluable a training as an engineer and can profit always by utilizing his gifts as a mathematician. In such activities he will be engaged for three quarters of his working day. During the rest he must be a physicist, that is, he must cultivate an intimacy with the behaviour of the physical world."

Different details of the first prototypes.

Different details of the first prototypes.

This is a very good description of Manuel Franquelo, the artist and engineer who is behind the conception of the scanner. It could also be applied to the team at work with him in Factum Arte´s workshops, as we attempt to cultivate an intimacy with the parts of the physical world we are in contact with. Among the different people involved, we understand the theory, the mathematics, the engineering limitations, the problems caused by the expansion and contraction of the materials, the speckle noise, the tricks that help and the lateral jumps that are required to come up with new solutions. We are familiar with the approximations, mediation, transformations and limitations of each stage of the process.

The need for a new approach

The bases of a Laser scanner. First model for the future Lucida scanner.
(Lucida Scanner. Created and developed by the artist Manuel Franquelo, cofounder of Factum Arte Built and tested in Factum Arte under the supervision of Manuel Franquelo.)

Controlling circuit by Manuel Franquelo.

The recording of the world's heritage in two and three dimensions is costly and time consuming – but it doesn't need to be this way!. It has not been commercially targeted by most of the hardware and software companies as the profit margins are not sufficiently attractive. Also, the business models that are developed often depend on the control and exploitation of the copyright of the recorded data - an approach that presents significant problems and concerns to many institutions who are custodians of our cultural heritage.

Factum Arte is in the position of providing practical solutions to both of these issues:

On the one hand, we work closely with the institutions to ensure that the copyright stays under their control (in addition we help them format the data so it can be used for study and conservation purposes as well as in publications).

On the other, we have built up a team of designers, engineers and software developers working to overcome the technical challenges that result from the high-resolution recording of works of Art.

Scanning in two and a half dimensions: Museo del Prado, April 2011

Factum Arte's Lucida 3D laser scanner, though still at a prototype stage, was used in the Museo Del Prado to record paintings by Titian and Rubens. The results demonstrate that the scanner has overcome many of the limitations that have restricted the use of 3D scanners for the documentation and monitoring of cultural artifacts.

An extract of 3D and colour information from a Rubens in the Museo del Prado, merged in the third image to emphasize the registration between colour and relief.

Lucida Scanner recording Ruben´s El Triunfo de la Iglesia sobre la Idolatría in Museo Nacional del Prado.

A physical viewer of the above data was prepared for a meeting with Museo del Prado.

Important features

At present, Manuel Franquelo's Lucida scanner can capture an area of 48x48 cm in 50 minutes, recording the relief of a surface with a maximum depth of field of 2.5 cm at a true resolution of 100 microns. But its main strengths are these:

- Light-weight. Less than 20 kg
- Portable and ease to install
- Battery operated no power supply dependable
- Easy to use (basic training provided)
- Versatile (easy to assemble and dismantle and is operated directly from a standard laptop
- Unprocessed data storage. No Abstraction. The recorded data are written onto as raw video onto external hard drives
- Affordable 3D scanning system highly accurate 3D scanner
- Specifically designed for recording paintings and relief surfaces
- It does not require expensive 3D software and the processing of the information is carried out after the recording

An early version of Lucida scanning Factum Arte's standard scanning board.

The laser

A completely new low-speckle laser has been made from scratch by Manuel Franquelo.

New ultra-lightweight scanning sensor designed by Manuel Franquelo. Machined by Dwight Perry.

New ultra-lightweight scanning sensor designed by Manuel Franquelo. Machined by Dwight Perry.

Speckle noise is an artificial effect produced by the projection of the beam of light on certain surfaces. The 'true' resolution of the scanner is more limited by the speckle noise than by any other variable.

Clean laser Stripe projected onto a surface.

A wide range of tone and problems with reflectivity
The poetry of the process has been at its most abstract and synthetic in the development of new software that permits the recording of mat and gloss, light and dark surfaces at the same time – even gold can be successfully recorded. Most scanning systems have difficulties when recording varnished paintings because the reflectivity of the surface generates excessive noise in the data. The same is true, for different reasons when recording blacks and gold. Factum Arte's Lucida scanner designed by Manuel Franquelo has overcome these problems by using a double exposure and then selecting the best data from each exposure. For the recording of cultural heritage it is essential we understand the relationship between noise and information.

Standard scanning board with different problematic surfaces: dark, glossy etc.

3D data acquired with the Lucida Scanner

Archiving raw data - Condensation not abstraction

An important feature of this new scanner is that it separates the recording of the data from its processing.

Once recorded, each tile -an area of a quarter of square meter- is saved as raw video file (65 Gigabytes of unprocessed data). The recorded information can either be processed on site or sent to Factum Arte´s headquarter where it can be processed as required and supplied to the museum (client) in any standard 3D file format.

The advantage of this approach is that the data are archived in its raw, 'un-abstracted' form and can be reprocessed in the future at a higher resolution without the need of re-scanning.

In any process of abstraction important aspects of the data are lost – we like to think of our approach as a form of condensation – put simply – Abstraction is a form of theft while Condensation is a gift.

The digital is normally associated with the virtual. The work we undertake in Factum Arte keeps the digital in the physical domain. Data from this scanner can be output both in virtual or physical form.

The Calibration process

Due to the fact that the data is being processed after the recording the calibration problems differ from other scanners. The calibration system is simple and quick. there is as well a software application to re-align data from the two cameras that improves the quality of the image recorded.

Dwight Perry, Manuel Franquelo and Carlos Bayod Lucini working on the new design.

A photographic update of Lucida Scanner in the summer of 2012

The software has been programmed by Manuel Franquelo. Jorge Cano has developed the graphic user interface.

The new graphic user interface is extremely intuitive and easy to use.

This animation represents a single object scanned at different distances thanks to the recently added Z axis. Then, the successive data can be integrated using another program. The result is as if the depth of field of the scanner had been increased, allowing us to record objects with deeper relief.

Lucida scanner
Created and developed by the artist Manuel Franquelo, cofounder of Factum Arte
Manuel Franquelo: general concept and development in the areas of electronics, mechanics, optics, and software.
Built and tested in Factum Arte by Carlos Bayod, Jorge Cano, Dwight Perry, Nicolás Díez and Manuel Franquelo Jr. under the supervision of Manuel Franquelo.

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