Taking the Measure of a Monument

Taking laser scans of giant sculpted heads on a rubble-strewn mountainside posed challenges. Besides dealing with fog, rain, snow, and hail, specialists had to rope equipment into position to scan hard-to-reach places like chins and eye sockets. Circles show scanner locations, from tricky places on the faces to the easiest ones, on top of the heads.

Click for scanner info

Two Types of Scanners Do the Job

     Tripod-Mounted Scanner
For part of the data gathering, specialists used two tripod-mounted scanners made for long-distance, large-scale measurements. The scanners were positioned above the monument and on the talus slope.

     Rope-Rigged Scanner
To record features like eyes, the imaging team lowered a short-range scanner by ropes and aimed it at their targets. The remotely operated scanner captured data up to ten times faster than the stationary ones.

John Baxter, Todd James, John Tomanio, and Matthew Twombly, NGM Staff; Amanda Hobbs
Sources: Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation; CyArk; Digital Design Studio, Glasgow School of Art; Fourfront Design; Historic Scotland; National Park Service; Respec; Wyss Associates