Making invisible Italy visible – Venice

BBC One, in collaboration with Scan Lab Projects, used Leica Geosystems’ Mobile Reality Capture technology to unveil layers of history and discover how the hidden treasures in Naples, Venice and Florence played their part in making Italy a powerhouse of the western world.

Italy’s invisible cities series from BBC One, allow viewers to jump on a virtual journey to reveal the secrets of these renaissance cities with the help of 3D models created with the point clouds obtained using laser scanning technology.

In episode 2, our globetrotters, the Leica Pegasus:Two and the Pegasus:Backpack are in Venice – just few kilometers away from Leica Geosystems’ Mobile Mapping R&D Centre.

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Explore the secrets of one of the world’s most remarkable cities with the exquisite accompaniment of Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott as they create with a team of experts a monumental 3D digital reality map of Venice. Wherever you look at, you’ll see glamour and mystiques – it is paradise for architects, engineers, artists and historians – the day promise to be unforgettable.

The Republic of Venice was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Age and the Renaissance, as well as a very important center of commerce – especially for silk, grain, spices and art. The Venetians truly achieved the unbelievable – building a marvel global commerce center on water, the source of life.

And exactly water is the challenge– completing existing 3D maps of Venice by collecting high fidelity scans from the canals would be an impossible venture for any with traditional reality capture technology but a home game for the Pegasus:Two. Designed to be vehicle independent and battery operated, the Pegasus:Two can be installed on a boat. Undulations and shakes are compensated by the Inertial Measurement Unit and the GNSS providing stunning submillimeter 3D point clouds and spherical imagery.

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Venetian’s most popular building is the Doge’s Palace – a ventricular architectural master piece built on a swamp – housing endless passageways and art pieces inside. Here is where the multiple award winning Pegasus:Backpack excels with SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping). A member of the expert team had simply to wear the Pegasus:Backpack and walk to start collecting dense 3D point cloud and crisp images by using the flash light module without worrying about GNSS coverage.

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The result was a never-before seen 3D map of Venice including its numerous bridges, captured from the canals bottom view, and a complex visualisation of Doge’s Palace hidden network of rooms, including the torture chamber where Casanova was interrogated.


To follow the Mobile Reality Capture revelations in Venice watch the full transmission of Invisible Italy on BBC on Tuesday January 17th 2017 at 23:00 and 23:55 GMT

To catch a glimpse of the journey in Venice take a look at this 360° interactive video based on the 3D models.

Read the first blog post of the Invisible Italy Series featuring Naples here.

Alessandro Nuzzo

Written by Alessandro Nuzzo Product Line Manager Mobile Mapping Leica Geosystems



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