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At Vassar College in the United States, a university team gathered the week before the devastating fire at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris to plan an ambitious project: inventorying about a terabyte of 3-D modeling data of the famed Gothic masterpiece.
The precious data—the most accurate in the world—is the work of Andrew Tallon, a Francophile American art professor who loved medieval architecture and was passionate about Gothic cathedral. He died in November.
Technique - Nothing - Application - Tools - Foundation
His technique was nothing new, but his application of the tools was innovative. In 2011 and 2012, funded by a foundation, Tallon used a laser device to accurately measure the interior and exterior of the cathedral, which was ravaged by flames this week.
He placed the device in about 50 places to measure the distance between each wall and pillar, recess, statue or other form—and to record all the imperfections intrinsic to any centuries-old monument.
Result - Points - Point - Cloud - Images
The result is over a billion points in the "point cloud." The final computer-generated images reconstruct the cathedral down to the smallest detail, including its tiny defects, with a precision of about five millimeters (0.1 inches).
These images, for example, confirmed how the west side of the cathedral was a "total mess... a train wreck," Tallon told National Geographic in 2015, pointing to the misalignment of the interior columns.
Mind - Builders - Student - Lindsay - Cook
He wanted to get "into the mind of the builders," said his former student Lindsay Cook, a Francophile like Tallon who is now a visiting assistant professor of art at Vassar.
"He was interested in using laserscan data to find moments like small ruptures in the construction, places where things were not exactly straight or in plumb, where you could see the hand...
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