Replica 360 Recto/Verso Scanner


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Left: Technical drawing of Recto/Verso scanner; Right: Birds-eye view of the scanner and disposition of the operators

The scanner in testing at Factum in Madrid

In February 2016, Factum Arte’s Replica 360 Recto/Verso Scanner was installed at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice. The Replica Scanner, built with the support of Fondazione Cini, is a rapid capture system for single-paged documents conceived as a rotary table that moves continuously whilst recording both sides of an object. It was specifically designed by Factum engineers to answer the need for rapid digitisation of the Cini’s photo-archive, which contains roughly 1 million annotated photographs of paintings from the Veneto region. This is the most complete and important photographic record of the history of art and architecture of the city of Venice.

The Replica project, coordinated by Isabella di Lenardo, is also part of a partnership connected with the Venice Time Machine project, supported by Fondazione Lombard Odier.

In the period July 2016-August 2017, operators at the Cini recorded over 490,000 items, resulting in more than 940,000 image files – or 52TB of RAW data. The data is being collected and processed by the DHLAB at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to build a detailed database of images. Using the powerful visual search engine also developed by DHLAB, the images will be organised and categorised to facilitate the study of genealogical affinities between the works of art shown in the photographs.

The project continues.

What makes the Recto/Verso Scanner unique?

The Replica scanner is a rapid photographic capture system designed as a rotary table that moves continuously and records both sides of a single-page document in one. It needs two operators to work together: one places the objects on the table for digitisation, the other removes them after the cycle has ended. This system reduces manipulation time per document and the circular set-up saves space. More importantly, however, the operators work side-by-side and are able to discuss and correct problems together as they occur – we think social interaction must be involved, and play an important role, in any cultural heritage digitisation effort, where people are often required to perform repetitive tasks for many hours at a time.

The controlled-speed rotation of the table is driven by a motor. A sensor system detects the moment when a document is placed on the glass surface and detects its position for the cameras. Images are captured with two identical high-resolution cameras. The documents are lit using custom-designed flash-units electrically engineered, 3D printed and assembled at Factum Arte. The units provide low-level light that allows the cameras to obtain high-quality, focused images whilst keeping glares or shines to a minimum.

In real-time, the images are automatically downloaded onto a computer; the recto and verso images of each document are matched together; and an md5 signature for the files is generated to ensure integrity. Basic metadata tags link the files to the existing Cini catalogue and the images are placed into an easy-to-access shared-folder, enabling easy data backup and later processing at EPFL.

Features of the Recto/Verso Scanner

Technical Specifications

  • Maximum document scanning rate: 4 seconds per document (rear and front sides)
  • Maximum document size: A2 format 594 x 420 mm
  • Resolution: 400 ppi at 5424 x 3616 pixels


  • 2 Cameras: Canon Full Frame 50 MegaPixels 5DSR
  • Lenses: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Lighting system: Custom built xenon tube flashes
  • Total Dimensions: Table Diameter: 2000mm, Column Height: 2300mm

A computer network made up of the following equipment:

  • Camera controlllers (x2): NUC Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM memory, USB 3.0, Gigabyte network interface
  • Server: Lenovo TSTATION P300, 16Gb RAM Memory, 2 Terabytes hard disk, double network interface
  • Switch: Netgear Smart 8 ports gigabyte


  • Remote camera view and control
  • Download and indexation of raw images. MD5 signature generation
  • Automatic exif metadata tagging (geolocation, copyright and document name tags)
  • Images can be accessed in a shared folder using a local area network

Find the the press release here.
How can digital tools assist researchers in the study of works of art?

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