Maptek provides long range laser focus to Sydney Opera House scanning

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Maptek I-Site high performance laser survey technology proved its value during the recent Scottish Ten project to record the Sydney Opera House in 3D.

The I-Site 8810 and I-Site 8800 ultra-long-range scanners captured the Opera House from all angles, including critical surroundings such as the plinth that the Opera House sits on and the main structure itself.

The Scottish Ten is a project which brings together Historic Scotland, Scotland’s Government heritage organisation, 3D scanning experts from the Digital Design Studio at Glasgow School of Art, and California-based digital heritage organisation CyArk. The Scottish Ten team worked closely with the Sydney Opera House Trust to facilitate the 3D scanning project.

Maptek was approached because our 3D technology, designed primarily for mining, is able to quickly cover large geographical areas. Scanning from vantage points such as Fort Denison, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay ensured capture of the best possible detail of the Opera House setting.

‘The Maptek team covered a huge amount of ground in their time on site with us, and the data looks fantastic. Their enthusiasm and support has been phenomenal and it has been our pleasure and privilege to work with them’, said Dr Lyn Wilson, Scottish Ten & CDDV Project Manager.

The I-Site laser scanner was mounted on a vehicle to drive through the Royal Botanical Gardens to scan the southern and eastern aspects of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. The ability to set up so quickly, obtain the scans and move between strategic locations meant Maptek could ‘fill in the pieces of the puzzle’ that the Scottish Ten scanning pass did not capture.

The Scottish Ten team has used aerial scanning to collect data of the setting for other sites. I-Site terrestrial laser scanners allowed them to collect the same type of data for the exterior and interior of the Opera House.

More importantly it meant accurate portrayal of vertical structures and the complex engineering of the underside of the Harbour Bridge, not possible with aerial methods.

The long range scanning ability of the I-Site 8800 and I-Site 8810 was ideal for this project. Complicated access to built and natural environs, including an island in the middle of the Harbour, and tight deadlines meant efficiency was the key. In all, 144 scans of different resolutions were captured over 3 days, with more than 100 different set ups.

Simultaneous capture of high resolution colour imagery with I-Site systems allows for spectacular animations and realistic models which reflect the unique beauty of the Opera House in its setting.

Maptek I-Site Studio software easily registered the scans in local coordinates. Base scans from key positions established survey control, streamlining setup and capture of remaining scans. Dynamic transformation and registration tools, adjusted the new scans to the reference scans, bringing the data into its correct spatial location.

The Sydney Opera House is one of the world heritage sites being scanned for the Scottish Ten project. The ultimate goal is to cover five sites in Scotland and five in other parts of the world. Laser scan data will be used to create 3D models to preserve the sites for posterity.

Maptek technology has also been used to capture the landscape and ruins on the remote island of
St Kilda, about 100 miles off the west coast of Scotland. This is one of only 28 World Heritage Sites around the globe with dual recognition for natural and cultural characteristics.

View the video and gallery of images here and find out more about the project at

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