Digitizing Your Collection: Who’s Got the Time?

Posted on Posted in Technology

You’ve been tasked with digitizing your collection of artwork, antiquities or scientific specimens – and that could number in the thousands or even tens of thousands. Now what? Digitizing even a fraction of a collection can be time-consuming and resource-intensive when you look at the three stages of:

  1. Specimen preparation
  2. Image capture
  3. Post processing

Fortunately, we’ve automated two of these stages so you can significantly increase the speed at which you archive your collections, by manual labour (and costs) to a minimum. Speaking of time…

To record this beautiful timepiece – a 1.27 gigapixel image of the innards of a Hamilton Railroad Watch (provided by the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute) – in extreme resolution (27,268 pixels per inch) took less than 1/2 hour of operator time total.

Step 1 – Specimen Preparation

Unfortunately there is not much we can do here; you still need to do the work of arranging, cleaning and preparing your images to be photographed. However, because we’ve automated the rest of the process, your staff do this work while the Magnify2 system is busy capturing and processing other specimens.

Step 2 – Image Capture

In order to get ultra-high resolution images of your collection (we’re talking 32,000 dpi or more) we need to take many images of your valuable collection, thousands in fact (check out this WWII pilot’s wings captured at 34,163 pixels per inch using 14,859 images stitched together into a 1.34 gigapixel image).  This is how we create gigapixel images that will be useful and relevant 10-20 years from now.  While it can take hours to capture the thousands of images, this process is mostly automated and is almost completely hands-free.

The operator simply has to create a project in our capture software program (see right), define a three-dimensional box that identifies where the specimen to be imaged is located, and set the exposure settings.

Then, with one click, the system captures as many pictures as necessary.  The operator can go on to prepare the next specimen for imaging, or go home for the night while the system works around the clock!

Multiple specimens can be imaged in the same automated fashion.  With our large 29 inch x 29 inch stage, you can image as many specimens as will fit, at the same time reducing costs by minimizing labour. A large number of objects could be digitized in one large image like this example of micro fossils or the system can be configured to record each item individually – it just depends on how you will be using the data.  For larger objects , we remove the stage (platform) so there is really no limit to the size of objects we can digitize.

Step 3 – Post Processing

The process of analyzing and combining pieces of thousands of images is time-consuming even for the quickest computers. It can take hours for the computer to do the back end work to turn your pictures into one beautiful image. But we’ve also automated most of this process so you and your staff can be doing other work or at home with your family.

Simply load the appropriate script for the project you are working on and let the computer do the work. You’ll still have to do the final stage of uploading the files to the server, but altogether each project should take only about 15 minutes of your time for post processing.

Time is of the essence – in the digitization of your collections of artifacts or specimens – as it is with so much of life.