Factum Foundation Photographic Manuscript Scanner


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The manuscript scanner in production (left) and testing (right) at Factum in 2016

Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation has designed and developed a photographic manuscript scanner for the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography (IHAE) in Makhachkala (Dagestan) with the support of the Ziyavudin Magomedov Charitable PERI Foundation. The scanner was installed by Factum engineer Enrique Esteban at the IHAE in late March 2017. From May-December 2017, operators at the IHAE used Factum's scanner to record over 100,000 manuscript pages at resolutions of 800 dpi. Factum Foundation is currently engaged in designing a user-friendly digital archive to store the large database of images produced in the ongoing work to record the Institute's collection of over 3000 oriental manuscripts.

The Photographic Manuscript Scanner is capable of recording 100 pages an hour at 800 dpi, 1:1 up to about A3 size (40 x 25cm). The scanner has been designed to cope with recording thick books that have spines up to 8cm in width. Books are recorded when open at 90 degrees and the manually operated methacrylate plate keeps the pages flat without risking the integrity of the book or applying pressure to the binding. The two cameras are activated by pressing a shutter button and the images are automatically stored with metadata tags, catalogued, and processed on the computer. The photographic system is lifted to turn the page and continue the recording. Both hands and feet are used for efficient operation, increasing speed and reducing risk.

Photographic Scanner Features

Adaptable book-tray
Allows the user to adjust the spine width and opening angle i.e. adaptable to books of different sizes and in varying states of conservation. The maximum spine width is 8 cm and the angle can be adjusted between 80º and 100º. The book tray is lined to protect the binding of the manuscript.

Photographic system
The Book Scanner is fitted with two Canon 5DSR with Sigma Art 50mm lenses. The two cameras are released at the same time by pushing one button. Two methacrylate plates keep the pages of the flat book and at a fixed distance from the lenses. The images are quickly downloaded onto the computer by means of USB 3.0 cables.

Shield and vertical guides
A mobile system is used to lift and lower the photographic system so that the operator can turn the pages of the book. The system is counterweighted with springs and comprises a blocking system to control positioning with as little effort as possible. The shield is articulated in order that the methacrylate plate can be adjusted to the angle of the book (80º, 90º and 100º).

Computer with custom software application
The custom software application ManuCapture software has been written by Enrique Esteban for Factum Foundation. The software controls the two cameras on the scanner. It allows the operator to calibrate the system in order to ensure correct exposures and allow colour management operations in image post-processing. Attention has been paid to maximising workflow and minimising time-wasting: ManuCapture automatically composes page sequences and adds metadata tags to each image. It is designed to be semi-automatic with maximum flexibility and full compatibility with web-browsing and the digital archive at the IHAE's which has also been designed by Factum Foundation The software is currently being updated to correct perspective distortion as needed.

Read more about the project to record the IHAE archive here.

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