Presentations about Rapid Capture Digitization
16 April 2015 885
During the first day of the 2D and 3D conference at the Rijksmuseum (April 15th 2015) digitizing large collections and providing these digitized objects of metadata were hot topics. In the morning programme of the conference among others Günter Waibel of the Smithsonian spoke about digitization projects. In the afternoon workshop sessions Stephanie Schnörr, coordinator digital collections Naturalis, told the attendees about digitizing a huge collection in a digital street.
Rapid Capture Digitization
Günter Waibel of the Smithsonian showed several case studies of digitization project in which the Smithsonian is currently involved during his presentation ‘From pilots to production’ at the 2D and 3D conference at the Rijksmuseum. One of the projects he mentioned is the project with Picturae.
The Smithsonian Institution in the United States and Picturae have signed, in September, a contract for a digitization project for an amount of $1,6 million. Picturae will digitize approximately 590,000 objects for the world's largest museum and research complex. For this project Picturae is digitizing the National Numismatic Collection housed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History along with other legal tender such as bank notes, tax stamps and war bonds. The ca. 250,000 pieces of paper will become the Institution’s first full-production “rapid capture” digitization project. Smithsonian Magazine published the article ‘Museums Are Now Able to Digitize Thousands of Artifacts in Just Hours’ about the digitization project Picturae is performing on location in the United States at the Smithsonian Institution.
The Smithsonian's Digitization Program Office published a YouTube video: the first run of the Picturae Digitization Conveyor system at the National Museum of American History's National Numismatic Collection department where almost 260,000 historic currency proof sheets will be digitized in the less the 4 months.
Picturae has developed a digitization set especially for the Smithsonian based on a conveyor belt that makes the work process as efficient as possible and digitizes the objects at high speed. The efficient working method is made possible due to the combination of the conveyor belt and innovative software allowing not just rapid digitization but, more importantly, guaranteeing high quality as well. Picturae uses a custom-designed 80 megapixel imaging system, making details available to the world that had only ever been seen by a select few.
“Such equipment has never before been used in the United States,” Max Kutner of Smithsonian Magazine stated in his article. Picturae developed a similar method for digitizing herbarium sheets for Naturalis Biodiversity Center in The Netherlands. For this project more than 40,000 Herbarium sheets per day could be digitized. Kutner also explains the term “rapid capture”. He wrote that the term refers to the speed of the workflow. Before this process was in place, digitizing a single sheet could take as much as 15 minutes, at a cost of $10 per sheet. Now, the team works through 3,500 sheets a day, at less than $1 per sheet.
In the afternoon workshop sessions Stephanie Schnörr, coordinator digital collections Naturalis, told the attendees about the 10 digistreets of Naturalis Biodiversity Center. With the Digitization Project Naturalis is making a wealth of information available about biological, paleontological, and geological diversity to scientists, amateurs, and the public throughout the world. Digitized data are made available online, for example through the worldwide network for biodiversity data. The project started in 2010 and is being funded by the Economic Structure Enhancing Fund (FES). Naturalis manages a collection of 37 million biological and geological objects for the purpose of scientific research into past and present biodiversity. From this collection, seven million objects are being digitized. These objects have priority due to their economic and public importance. This has been translated into current research questions from the Netherlands and other countries. The collection to be digitized is highly diverse, ranging from insects to whales and from minerals to meteorites.
The last digistreet that has become operational digitizes the Herbarium sheets. Picturae has developed a digitization set especially for Naturalis based on a conveyor belt that makes the work process as efficient as possible and digitizes the Herbarium sheets at high speed. More than 40,000 Herbarium sheets per day are currently being digitized. The efficient working method is possible because the combination of the conveyor belt and innovative software allow not just a rapid digitization but, more importantly, guarantee a high quality as well. The software ensures that the digitized Herbarium sheets are automatically provided with color profiles and are checked for sharpness. If these aspects are correct, the image is automatically cropping and stored and then it is ready for use.
At the click of a mouse, the results from the Herbarium digistreet give the entire world access to the most important and most consulted data from the Herbarium collections of Naturalis. Researchers who make use of label data from these collections, for example for the development of new medicines or to study the relationships between plant species, can now access the basic information online at any time and place. Previously this could only be done by visiting the Herbarium.
With the Crystal Clear! project from Naturalis, 100,000 tiny creatures from the Naturalis collection were made publically accessible via the Many Hands crowdsourcing website of Picturae. Participants were asked to enter data, such as the scientific name of the animal, gender, location and date it was found, next to the image of the glass preparation. It is an interesting challenge, as there is a great variety of species, information and spelling. As a reward, the participants get points which they can redeem during the course of the project, for example for free tickets to Naturalis.
You can find more information about the rapid capture digitization for the Smithsonian in the article ‘Museums Are Now Able to Digitize Thousands of Artifacts in Just Hours’ by Max Kutner on the website of the Smithsonian Magazine.