From Point Cloud to Projection Mapping: MA Student Ruby Hung’s Summer Research

August 29, 2017

In 2016, Ed Triplett gathered a group of photogrammetry-curious students, staff, and faculty to crowdsource a model of the interior of Duke’s newly renovated chapel. The project served as a training exercise for professionals and researchers seeking to learn photogrammetry techniques for both technical and humanistic endeavors–and in this 8 million point cloud model of Duke Chapel.

Now MA in Digital Art History student Ruby Hung is building her thesis out of this model as she develops a proposal for an exhibition to be viewed in the chapel’s vaulted ceiling. The proposed exhibition would be presented through projection mapping, a type of light projection that matches visual media, both image and video, to the contours of three dimensional surfaces. The project’s goals include exploring the challenge of prototyping a projection mapping project using 3D printed models, creating a medium-specific historical narrative about the chapel, and developing an exhibition that engages in a scholarly dialogue with previously documented projection mapping exhibitions in sacred spaces.

A point cloud, a collection of spatially located points created using thousands of photographs, is converted to a mesh–a 3D model formed of many triangles.

Hung spent her summer developing a 3D printed prototype of the chapel’s transept vault using a combination of Autodesk’s modeling programs Meshmixer, Fusion360, and 3D Studio Max. She has worked in consultation with Professors Mark Olson and Ed Triplett, as well as with students and staff at the Colab, to create the scaled model with which she will develop her projection mapping prototype this fall.

The mesh is prepared for printing. Hung divided the transept into 4 sections for printing.

Through this projection mapping, Hung will tell the story of the design and construction of the chapel, bringing to light the work of Julian Abele through historical materials held in the University Archives.

Two models after successful printing in the Colab.