Tools for Cultural Heritage applications?

(Bart) #1

Continuing the discussion from Cultural heritage applications for 3D scans:

I just had a great conversation with Anthony from the @discoveryprogramme during which we touched on features that would make Sketchfab even more useful for Cultural Heritage work. While I can't make any promises, it would be very useful for us to understand this field better. So if there's anything you think we should add, please let us know below and try to explain or illustrate your scenario.



New feature proposal: Geolocation of 3d models in a map
Cultural heritage applications for 3D scans
(Joerigby) #2

@bartv Our approach to utilize the 3D models from SKETCH FAB is to import them into a MMO type virtual environment as in the video
We have imported some models from the British Museum
In the next few days we hope to import a range of models generated from photogrammetry to exhibit in the virtual museum at such as:

Swiss Fire Hydrant by Jeffrey Tuhtan on Sketchfab

(Bart) #3

Hi @joerigby,

thanks for the info, but I was looking for things that you think we could add to the Sketchfab website to make it more useful for your type of application. Any ideas?

(Getinsitu) #4

Hi Bart,
here are just quick ideas:

  • more room for the general description (for example, I would like to add article references, which is not possible with 256 characters!)
  • having a description section for a whole folder (since I have multiple models for the same site or object, I would appreciate to describe the main archaeological project once, instead of copying it through model descriptions)
  • being able of adding graphic elements such as a scale bar or a north arrow (we deal with those things using our 3D apps — but that would be a huge time saver)
  • distinguishing 3D scans from photogrammetry in categories (or adding the term 'photogrammetry' to the existing category). At first, I never checked the '3D scans' category because I use photogrammetry, not lasergrammetry, before realizing that most archaeological sketchfab models were built with photos (forgive me if it's just a french/english translation issue)

Finally, a lot of virtual conservatoires for Cultural Heritage exists on the web. Some are cool, relevant, free. Some aren't. Sketchfab is so easy to use… We now regularly upload our models and give our partners of the French Ministry of Culture the sketchfab links (instead of directly providing .obj files — they don't know what to do with these!). Anyway, here's my thought: how can we work together (Cultural Heritage pros and Sketchfab developers) to make Sketchfab a solid and professional exchange platform.


(Abby Crawford) #5

I wholeheartedly agree with all of your suggestions, @getinsitu. I also suggest:

  • The ability to display a map (either a static map, or something like Google maps) of artifact or site location. While not entirely necessary, a map capability would enhance the educational and interactivity value of scans. It could be that this sort of feature would be desirable even for non-heritage scans, and serve to build a greater sense of community.
  • The ability to hyperlink text would make the 256 character count go a bit further.

That's all for now - if I think of anything else, I'll be sure to add it.


(Bart) #6

Good points, thanks!

I'm not entirely sure I follow this one - could you give me an example of how that would look?

Would that be to display a map of a scan along the model, or to show multiple models on a map? Would you prefer entering coordinates, or selecting an area on a map?

Regarding the hyperlinks, do you feel it's also important to be able to format those links? Like instead of displaying the original link in the text, provide a title for it?

(Getinsitu) #7

I've just re-uploaded the 'Les Pradelles 2013' model and added the two questioned elements

Les Pradelles 2013 by Get in Situ on Sketchfab

(Bart) #8

Thanks! And would you insert those manually, like with annotations, or do you expect it to happen automatically somehow?

(Abby Crawford) #9

Hi Bart,

With the map idea, I think it would be enough to have a map alongside the model. Something like this:

For my purposes, it would be enough to select an area on a map, but I can see how some might prefer to be able to enter coordinates. Coordinates might be useful particularly for people who are making models of things underwater or in the middle of nowhere.

I think that it is important to be able to format links. The look is much cleaner.

New feature proposal: Geolocation of 3d models in a map
(Getinsitu) #10

Scale bar
Well, most of our models are geometrically controlled. It means that they are at least at the right scale.
So I guess that in that case the ability of adding an automatically generated bare scale wont' be a problem for sketchfab developers.
In the case of unscaled models, the solution will be : click two points on the sketchfab model and enter a value for the distance between them.
So my answer is : both.

North arrow
Some site models are geolocated according to a national projection coordinates system or GPS. In theory, the north will then automatically align with the Y axis. But of course many models aren't, especially objects. I think that the ability of manually add and orientate an arrow will be a good solution for everybody (we don't need Sketchfab to become a 3D GIS system!). Still dealing with the 'orientation' subject, an improvement would be great however : now we can orientate our models with steps of 90° around each axis. Decreasing this angular step (let's say 10°) would be a really time saving refining tool.

(Getinsitu) #11

Hi Abby,

the map idea is just great! May I take a part in your discussion?
Having a map alongside each model is really needful. But I also like the idea of displaying a global map gathering all model locations of a given user. We would then have a quick summary of everyone's interest work areas.

(Matthewbrennan) #12

I second the requests for the more-than-256-character limit!
It's often quite hard to distill all the information down to that little amount of characters.

Going along with what @getinsitu said, adding calipers would be great too. For example, if a model has a defined scale by the uploader, the ability to click two points on the model and take a measurement. That's really wishful thinking though!

(Corentin) #13

@abbyec @getinsitu please have a look at

I built a prototype to share cultural 3D scans on a map. It's not collaborative yet but I hope it will evolve soon smile

(Jtuhtan) #14

As mentioned, I think a scale bar and north arrow would be great.

Also the ability to show a grid and axes would also be useful for architectural models.

(Jtuhtan) #15

The map feature would also be very useful to search. It adds another layer of meta data which can be queried to filter out country, state, city, etc.

(Berriers) #16


My work is in computer graphics but we have recently become connected to some local museums that have begun to use light field techniques for preservation of their art and historical artifacts. They have used the tools available from the Cultural Heritage Institute (CHI), building polynomial texture maps of many of their flat works. This is a long shot in terms of 'features' for SketchFab but at present there is no obvious way to share these in a browser as you do with 3d models. I know from my experience in graphics that the engine you have already built would be well suited for this and I think there would be a big market if you could provide a viewer for this sort of data.

Even further out there, our research group has recognized that the data captured for photogrammetry (thinking specifically of Agisoft PhotoScan) is identical to the type of data used to render an unstructured lumigraph. PhotoScan (and similar software) analyzes the input photos to back out the intrinsic and extrinsic properties of the camera and all the individual views and then uses multi-view stereo techniques to reconstruct a polygonal mesh and a detailed albedo texture. For a lumigraph, you keep the polygonal mesh but instead of a single texture you retain all the input photographs and re-project them back onto the mesh intelligently (blending together the pixels from the images that are as close as possible to the view you are presently trying to render). It is a long-term project of ours to make this happen in a browser through some means of either cloud rendering or via a representation that is somewhere between a textured polygonal mesh and a full lumigraph. A lumigraph is too GPU intensive for the average consumer to render on their device.

Towards the lumigraph technique, it is very important that the original photographs are still available in some fashion and this is something that would be a more immediate suggestion that SketchFab could consider providing. Allow important complimentary data to be stored along with the more traditional polygonal model (like a spreadsheet or XML file of camera positions and the original photographs). Decisions to accommodate this meta data now would help prepare you for what I think will be the future in cultural heritage scanning!

Just my 10 cents! Big ideas but this is a BIG area with lots of exciting things happening right now. Get on this train! It's going places.

Seth Berrier

(Vida Bitenc) #17

For me, the scale bar has much higher priority than north arrow or location map. It is useable for indicating the size of any re-construction of existing object (movable or immovable) or plan of an object if relevant.
It could be implemented by adding a uniform (downloadable) model of the bar to the model of the object.
The north arrow could be implemented in a similar way.
Adding kml of a point representing the location on the Earth would enable displaying the location of the model.
Displaying geo-referenced models would require completely different approach. In short, personally I
would leave this functionality to services/communities focused on GIS, mapping etc.

(Bart) #18

Hey guys,

what is a reasonable description length for you? 1,000 characters? 2,000? Please let us know smile

(Abby Crawford) #19

@corentin That looks great!

(Andy lewis) #20

500 would be fine, far as I'm concerned.