TopoFly and Structure from Motion

Research in Visualisation
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Kieran Baxter on the use of aerial photography for digital production, survey, contextual interpretation and visual storytelling at the Centre for Stewardship in Falkland. This topic has a lot of potential touch points with Linknode’s HistoryLens project for reconstructive augmented reality and geospatial visualisation for landscape narratives.

White and Brown Caterthun Hillforts

Kieran is a PhD student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. His work to date has been in the use of high- and low-altitude aerial photography for data capture and image interpretation (human) and analysis (computational). Specifically he uses kites and cameras for low-level oblique images allows for cost-effective and high-resolution data capture. Using fixed camera settings and timer-based continuous shooting allows for a lightweight, transportable kit to be used on almost any site (albeit weather permitting!). Pictures can be post-processed for landscape context and also for 3D terrain modelling.

Linknode’s GIality applications use digital terrain models (DTMs) from the Ordnance Survey (we have cloud-based databases containing national coverage of Terrain 50) and can incorporate other datasets and resolutions as required. Site specific DTMs are usually expensive to commission via techniques such as total station or GPS topographic survey, photogrammetry or LiDAR. For cultural and heritage sites Kieran described and demonstrated how multiple kite-captures images could be combined in Structure from Motion to create a point cloud and 3D model. In collaboration with Susie Green at UCL this approach has been used to create DTMs that can be visualised by other 3D systems.

Maiden Castle 3D Model

There is future potential in further reconstructive 3D modelling and visualisation from the real-world data for interpretation and narratives. We hope to stay in touch with Kieran to explore how geospatial AR could provide new mobile access and in-field visualisation for the models.

More information on this project and Kieran’s work can be seen at TopoFly (supported by the AHRC and Historic Scotland). Susie Green’s ArchaeologySFM has technical information and further examples of her work.