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Seven Sisters

This project is still under development and this is the initial phase where we are exploring the effective methods to use photogrammetry data and VR tech to Create the Digital Heritage of Representative Architectural Marvels from North-East India.

Guided by Prof. Shivaji, IIT Hyderabad, Design Department. 

My role was to find the alternative/low-cost method of photogrammetry and to create a Digital Archive in VR

Design Challenge

How might we preserve the Heritage of Representative Architectural Marvel from North-East India through existing advanced documentation techniques

such as photogrammetry and 3D laser scan in order to document architectural data.



  • Less time and more sites to scan

  • Tight budget for hardware and software


India has one of the largest geopolitical expanses and one of
the greatest volume and diversity in heritage. This vast heritage repository of India is recognized globally as a significant part of its unique cultural identity.

India’s cultural heritage and, in particular, its
archaeological and built heritages are unparallel marvels in the world.


UNESCO World Heritage Sites


ASI Protected Monuments

Heritage includes centrally protected monuments, state-protected monuments, heritage buildings under various religious trusts, historic cities, and archaeological sites.


Archeological Sites


State Archeology Protected Monuments

Our Workflow

Mostly divided into two parts: Capturing the site data with cameras and Processing the cloud point data

Software Used

Reality Capture for Image Processing and creating cloud point data and Cinema 4D to clean Mesh.

Hardware Used

High-resolution DSLR with GPS and PC with faster CPU, GPU, high capacity of RAM (16 GB ), and humungous disk space

  1. The initial objective of the project was to establish a low-cost photogrammetry method and create a digital archive that can be accessed in VR

  2. After finalizing the pipeline of creating digital assets we progressed to create UX for VR app that a user would use to access this digital scan and architectural data

Guideline for capturing an image
Setting for Image processing
Hardware requirement list
Software comparison for project

Interested in trying photogrammetry?Download this guideline I made


Exists in myriad forms, shapes, and experiences across various states

No proper documentation on historical and architectural data

India’s Heritage is underfinanced hence low maintenance

Improper digital database for the heritage that can be accessed via online

Ideally, physical preservation is the only way to restore the heritage but due to lack of traditional knowledge on building materials, techniques, high requirement of manpower, and the delayed low fund have left very little time to preserve our heritage.

So as a designer what we can do is save what has left.
Digital preservation was the next big research area for this
project. Our main aim was to create a digital database to preserve architectural data as it represents culture, geology, and history.
So anyone who wants to deep dive into architecture knowledge can access information anytime from anywhere.

Desk Research on digital capture methods


Best quality

Cheaper & easy

Time consuming

Complex post process


Accurate ( up to 2 mm )

Faster in scanning


Heavy to carry

David Laser Scanning

Small to medium object

DIY LASER scanner

Not for big objects

Requires lightroom

Artec Scanner

Scans complex geometry

Handheld device

Not for big objects

Too expensive

Microsoft Kinect

Good looking 3D model

Real time building

iPad and Intel RealSense  are other two device to create 3D - short-range

First prototype

Total images: 57 | 1.5Hrs for taking photos | 3Hrs for processing
Software used:
Autodesk ReCap Pro

This prototype was to apply all the image capture methods and test the output quality of the scan.
Quality was great but there was a limitation of 250 images.

After solidifying the capture method, software selection comes next. As our project aims to scan large monuments so we required software that can process thousands of images. So we picked another location with more environmental challenge

Second prototype

Total images: 476 | 4Hrs for taking photos | 2.4Hrs for processing
Software used:
Pix4D Mapper & Reality Capture

This prototype was to compare the output from two recommended software from the industry. Both software produced the same quality of the scan. We preferred Reality capture because it took
60% less time than Pix4D.
This is
200 years old wooden Rath. We were amazed by the quality of the scan with only one normal camera and a PC


Third prototype

Total images: 15,785 | 1Week for taking photos | 10Hrs for processing
Software used: Reality Capture
Finally, we got what we wanted out of photogrammetry. You are looking at cloud points aerial data excluded ( captured with DJI drone )
Tie points/cloud points

Establishing workflow

Key takeaway

  • Reality Capture was the fastest among the tested photogrammetry software. It was reliable and works better with Nvidia Graphics Cards. 

  • Always look for errors shown on the right side otherwise your hours of work will be gone.

  • Personally, this project taught me how to understand new problems and sleepless debugging nights gave me multiple solutions that can be applied in an optimized way. 

  • The journey and the final outcome of the project was truly a rewarding experience. 

  • I conducted a workshop on photogrammetry for M.Des students at OCAD university during my exchange and successfully implemented it in the project with Canada Global Affairs.

Made with 💗

©2020 Rajat Kumar

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