The Notre Dame Cathedral Fire and Cultural Heritage Preservation

The fire at Notre Dame Cathedral is just another reminder of the need to digitize our cultural heritage to preserve artifacts, buildings, documents, and landscapes so people in the future can appreciate human history. Luckily, the building has been laser scanned, and as it is a famous building important to the Parisian skyline it has also been photographed from dozens of angles, there is enough out there to restore the building to its glory. I did have the chance

While the fire was raging yesterday, I aggregated a sources of digital information regarding Notre Dame on my Facebook page, this page will serve as a public facing aggregation of all the articles and resources.

Laser Scanning of the Cathedral

National Geographic and ExtremeTech both have articles regarding the scanning of the Cathedral by the late historian Andrew Tallon of Vassar College. The articles show visualizations of the point clouds, discusses the structural findings, and they explain what laser scanning is. It is mentioned in the National Geographic article that Dr. Tallon’s laser scan survey of the cathedral had more than 45 individual scans, for such a large building that seems like a small number of scans, especially for how complex it is inside and outside. Perhaps when it is reconstructed, or very soon, a more dense laser scan survey can be conducted for digital preservation.

Photographs of the Cathedral

National Geographic, again, and Google Arts and Culture have photographic collections of Notre Dame available on their websites. Flickr search and map make their geotagged photo collection easily accessible for users to find images of the cathedral, I have presorted both the map and search for images of the cathedral.

3D Models of the Cathedral

3D model sharing website Sketchfab has many models of the cathedral, some of the entire cathedral, some of the surrounding area, and some of just individual features of the Cathedral. Below I have an embed of my favorite model so far looking through the models available as of me writing this post, it is by a user named Steve Colmer, and looks to be a photogrammetric point cloud of the area surrounding the cathedral. There is no description of the model on the Sketchfab page, but looking at the points it is probably not aerial laser scan data and most likely photogrammetry. Again with the lack of a description, we’re not sure whether he sourced the imagery for the model on his own, or he used data from publicly accessible websites.

Photogrammetric model of Notre Dame Cathedral by Steve Colmer.

Another user, Miguel Bandera, has created a model and disclosed in the brief title and description that it was created from crowdsourced imagery of Notre Dame, if only he described how he crowdsourced it.

Update: I found Miguel in a Facebook group, and he is using Reality Capture to process the photos, but still don’t know where they’re from.