Lab to Create 1600-Gigapixel ‘Digital Twin’ of 1893 Panoramic Painting

An EPFL lab prepares to digitize The panorama of the battle of Murtena 100 by 10 meter painting, made in 1893 by Louis Braun, in a venture that will produce one of the largest digital images ever.

The EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) is one of two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology located on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Sarah Kenderdine, head of the Laboratory of Experimental Museology at the EPFL, is leading the digitization of a huge panoramic work called The panorama of the battle of Murten by Louis Braun. Braun, who lived from 1836 to 1916, was a history painter known as a master of large-format canvases. By the end of the 19th century he was the most important panorama painter in Germany, a genre that died out with Braun.

To describe The panorama of the battle of Murten if massive undersells are size:

Transporting the rolls | Credits: 2022 EPFL eM+

The painting depicts the moment when the Swiss allies gained the upper hand against the Duchy of Burgundy during the invasion of 1476. It has never been mounted permanently for public display. Except for just two instances, once in Zurich and Geneva in the late 1800s and again briefly in 2002 at the Swiss National Exposition, the giant panoramic painting has spent most of its existence out of the public eye, including the past 20 years. in a military warehouse.

At the moment, one of the few ways to enjoy the painting is through the Murten Panorama website

Transporting the rolls | Credits: 2022 EPFL eM+

But thanks to a collaboration between the EPFL and the Stiftung für das Panorama der Schlacht bei Murten (Foundation for the Panorama of the Battle of Murten), the painting will be meticulously photographed and turned into a huge “digital twin” so it can be enjoyed by the public.

Analyzing the roles | Credits: 2022 EPFL eM+

According to the EPFL, the researchers, led by Kenderdine, are preparing a large-scale mechanical platform that will hold the restorers above the painting, as well as the camera rig that will take approximately 400,000 photos of the masterpiece to create a 1600 gigapixel finale. . photo.

A huge 1,600 gigapixel photo

The team plans to use Phase One’s iXH 150-megapixel digital camera, a device built specifically for the digitization of cultural heritage objects. The EPFL says the process is expected to take four months, as multispectral imaging will allow the camera to capture images within and outside the RGB color spectrum (red, green, and blue).

“As far as published research has shown, this is expected to be the largest single seamless image ever at 1,600 gigapixels. That’s 1.6 trillion pixels or pixels,” says Kenderdine.

“The post-production and data science aspects of dealing with such a large image for a range of stakeholders are critical to the research results.”

Panorama roll close-up | Credits: Foundation for the Panorama of the Battle of Murten

The original painting was intended to be displayed in a circle or roundabout and as such has a so-called hyperboloid shape. As a result, it does not lay flat in 2D particularly well and must be carefully rinsed over a substrate to ensure a smooth recording process.

But once the recording process is complete, the EPFL says it can be placed in an interactive 360-degree viewing experience for the public. The goal is to complete this endeavor by 2026 to mark the 550th anniversary of the battle depicted in the painting.

“The Murten panorama is a national treasure and our project opens us up to a new approach to Swiss history and culture,” said Daniel Jaquet, military historian and member of the Foundation Committee.

“It contains not only very detailed depictions of a battle, but also very rich socio-cultural aspects, through the lens of the late 19th century world view. Digitization has freed us from the limitations of a traditional military-historical approach.”


Image Credits: College of Humanities, CDH, Creative Commons

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