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Standards & Guidelines 15 SEPT 2020
Distributed Digitization
13 OCT 2020
Resource-challenged Digitization
17 NOV 2020
Achieving Excellence in . . .
15 DEC 2020
Conference Portal Closes
15 APRIL 2021


Federal Agencies Digital
Guidelines Initiative

JOIN US for a series of four meetings on achieving excellence in cultural heritage imaging. Register for one—or for all four. Add access to the recordings of two relevant short courses that were given at Archiving 2020 for a small fee:

SC01 Scanner & Camera Imaging Performance: Ten Commandments
Instructors: Peter Burns & Don Williams     Length: 2 hours

SC09  Best Practices for Implementing a FADGI Compliant Color Digitization Workflow
Instructors: David Wyble & Thomas Rieger     Length: 2 hours

Please note: All sessions will be recorded and registrants will have access to the recordings—including Q&A—until 15 April 2021 to accommodate your schedule, as well as to allow you to go back and review details.

To join the meeting sign into the Event Site.


15 DECEMBER 2020 


Imaging Excellence in Cambodia: Digitizing Priceless 35mm Photographic Bulk-film Rolls of At-risk Khmer Buddhist Palm Leaf Manuscripts, Jacqueline Vincent, Brechin Imaging Services, and Alexis Lecoq, Digital Divide Data
Abstract: In 2019, the Buddhist Digital Resource Centre (BDRC) embarked on a collaborative project to digitize Khmer Buddhist palm leaf manuscript images and make them accessible on BDRC's specialized content website. The project entailed digitizing both original physical manuscripts and over 200 archived 35mm bulk-film rolls. These films contain 165,382 frames of manuscripts, which had been photographed onsite at monasteries across Cambodia. Starting in 1990, in a race against time, teams from the Fonds d'Édition des Manuscrits du Cambodge (FEMC) under the École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO) set out to find, conserve, photograph, and catalogue as many manuscripts as possible before they were lost. In some cases, the images on the films are the only extant record of these priceless manuscripts. The digitization work was done by a team of 35 young Cambodian work study students from Digital Divide Data (DDD), who learned first-hand about their country's historical collections.
       This talk will describe the technical processes, successes, and challenges faced by the DDD / Brechin Project team to digitize the long 600-800 frame film rolls; and discuss where we were and were not able to meet FADGI 3-star / 4-star guidelines. Each frame typically contained 1, 2, or 6 individual palm leaf folios. So, in addition to digitizing the films, there was a requirement to efficiently crop the film frames into 757,507 separate folio images - 1 folio page per image. The films are complete while the digitization of more physical manuscripts is currently on-going.

The Digitization of 600,000 Negatives and Slides in 35mm and 6x6cm Formats: Comparing Image-by-image Capture and a System of Joint Capture, Millard Schisler and Joanna Americano, Instituto Moreira Salles
Abstract: This talk is about our research aiming to develop a digitization strategy to give digital access to a collection of 600,000 negatives and slides in 35mm and 6x6cm formats. We are comparing two types of digitization: image-by-image capture and a system of joint capture. The digitization by set or joint capture, as we call it, consists of capturing a print-file containing the originals and from that capture making the individualization of the images generating new files.
     We started to digitize images using the joint capture process with a Canon 5D Mark II camera. After digitization, an algorithm was developed internally to process the captured files and individualize the images. The purpose of the digitization was to add the images to the IMS database so that they could be cataloged and described. However, the images were of low visual quality for online access. We aim to improve the digitization of the project through the acquisition of a Phase One iXH 150MP camera, which should generate individualized files with high enough quality for access, research, and small size publications.
     During the talk, we will discuss how we are surveying the productivity and cost ratio between an image-by-image scanning system, like the Film Toaster, and scanning in conjunction with an iXH 150MP camera and we will present some of our initial conclusions of the advantages and disadvantages of each of these systems.

2D Digitization of a 450m2 Art Installation, Emmanuel Fremau, Arkhênum SAS
Abstract: Arkhênum recently digitized an exhibition called the Ship from the artist Ilya Kabakov. This monumental piece of art was created using the paper archives of the Soviet era. This 21-meter-long work extends over a 450m2 space through which visitors can stroll and view the exhibit from all sides. This talk, illustrated with photos and videos, will share the look of the original exhibition as well as the scanning workshop that was customized for this 2D project, which was quite a challenge.

Achieving Excellence in Documentation and Scientific Approaches to Computational Photography,
Carla Schroer and Mark Mudge, Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI)
Abstract: This talk will explore the necessity for transparent evaluation of scientific digital representations. The goal is to establish the conditions under which a “real-world“ artifact can be digitally represented as a “digital surrogate," which can reliably serve as a digital stand-in usable for subsequent scientific or scholarly examinations. The most cost effective scientific documentary methodologies employ computational photography-based imaging, including photogrammetry and reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) and other forms of photographic image sets. We will discuss the open source Digital Lab Notebook (DLN) software. The DLN simplifies scientific imaging for cultural communities and is a key to building trusted, qualitatively transparent, reusable cultural archives. In 2002, Carla Schroer and Mark Mudge co-founded the nonprofit corporation Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI). CHI develops and implements imaging technologies for cultural, historic and artistic heritage and scientific research, and helps people around the world to adopt these technologies.

Development of a Narrow Band Multi-Spectral Metadata Standard (3Pi project – KU Leuven), Hendrik Hameeuw, KU Leuven
[Authors: Hendrik Hameeuw, Madeleine Anne Bognar, Bruno Vandermeulen, Michael B. Toth, William A. Christens-Barry, Lieve Watteew]
Abstract: Apart from the challenge of creating high-quality, layered, rich datasets enabling advanced processing and analysis for multi-spectral imaging, the real challenge is in the preservation and reconstruction or visualization of these datasets. It is necessary to keep these layered sets together with reference to the individual files so that the end-user can understand what he is looking at.
     To that end, within the 3Pi project a Narrow Band Multi-Spectral Metadata standard has been developed, so that images, metadata, and paradata stay together by embedding this data in the technical metadata headers (EXIF). This standard not only updates the work being done within the Archimedes Palimpsest Project, but expands it with environmental metadata (on how the dataset was created). While this was specifically developed within the 3Pi project, the base principles and concepts can be used for creation and description of complex image data sets. In the presentation, we will highlight the challenges working with complex datasets both from the producers and end-users point of view and present the metadata set allowing independent and long-term interpretation of the images.

Subjective and Contextual Aspects of Selecting Color-enhanced Images for an Institutional Online Papyri Catalog, Vlad Atanasiu, University of Basel
Abstract: This talk addresses the practical question of how to choose from the many existing image enhancement methods in view of the online publication of document reproductions. The presented insights have been gained from an empirical evaluation of the utility of various legibility enhancement methods of papyri documents, with the aim of producing a legibility enhancement software for papyrology, and creating the on-line catalog of papyri of the Library of the University of Basel. It will present a number of new enhancement methods, which are based on color processing and visual illusions; show how the evaluation revealed a high degree of subjectivity in ranking the utility of the enhanced images, compounded by a number of factors; and discuss how to operationalize the findings for selecting enhanced images in the real world context of a case study. The talk will conclude with a short demonstration of the Hierax software for legibility enhancement of papyri (

3D Robotic Scanning System CultArm3D and the Challenges of Automated 3D Capture and Reconstruction, Pedro Santos, Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD
Abstract: This talk covers the principles of automated 3D data acquisition, what has already been achieved, what challenges we still face, and which results we can achieve with our approach. It will present our autonomous, color-faithful 3D Robotic Scanning System, CultArm3D, and introduce the challenges of automated 3D capture and reconstruction. Our goal is to achieve repeatable high quality at all times, if possible at the push of a button, requiring no technical proficiency from the operator of our systems. For more information visit:

Jeanine Nault, Smithsonian Institution


17 NOVEMBER 2020


Colonial North America: Portals to the Past—Lessons from a multi-year digitization project, Franziska Frey, chief of staff, Harvard Library, and Megan Sniffin-Marinoff, Harvard University Archivist
Abstract: For centuries, Harvard has accumulated manuscript and archival materials relating to the North American colonies. Scattered among the Harvard libraries, many of these collections remained unexamined or rarely seen by students and scholars. The first step of the ambitious task to digitize them all entailed a survey uncovering more than 1,600 collections in 14 Harvard repositories, including Harvard University Archives, Houghton Library, and those at the Law, Business, Medical, and Divinity schools.

Colonial North America at Harvard Library provides access to remarkable and wide-ranging materials digitized as part of a multi-year project. The project makes available to the world approximately 700,000 digitized pages of all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th- and 18th-century North America. Each item is connected to countless stories—of lives lived quietly and extravagantly, of encounters peaceful and volatile, and of places near and far – providing an opportunity to travel back in time, to rethink familiar stories, and to discover new ones. This talk will explore the various lessons learned, from surveying the collections, creating common practices for processing, innovative workflows for image stabilization at scale, to selecting imaging workflows and  metadata harvesting for searching.

Developing a Digitization Center at the General Archives of Puerto Rico,
Hilda Teresa Ayala-Gonzalez, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña
Abstract: In 2019, following recommendations provided by a damage assessment report, the General Archives of Puerto Rico secured a special assignment from the government to develop a pilot project for the creation of a digitization center. Basic equipment was acquired, standards were selected, areas were prepared, and personnel was trained. The pilot project commenced February 11, 2020, and a month later, on March 13th, the lock down began. During this month of work, many issues arose that prompted an opportunity to evaluate what was implemented and sought for further funding. This presentation shares the challenges and successes experienced by the creation of our digitization center, under economical constraints and uncertain times.

Collaborative Partnerships and A Lot of DIY,
Elizabeth Chiang, George Eastman Museum
Abstract: The George Eastman Museum studio is responsible for the digitization of the various collections held by the museum. Objects that come through the studio include photographic prints (19th century to today), albums and bound volumes, cased photographic objects (daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes), cameras and technology (lenses, cinema cameras, ephemera, etc), and transparencies (including the Colorama working negatives, glass plate negatives, and 35mm film and slides). As a small not-for-profit institution, our budget for new gear is limited, but we are able to maintain consistent and high levels of digitization standards by seeking out collaborative partnerships and a lot of DIY! We are in the midst of an ongoing collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology to streamline our copy stand workspace by developing a circular fast capture system wherein multiple objects can be staged and moved under the camera in succession. As of this year, the project is ongoing and will hopefully conclude in 2021. Phase one of the project resulted in the automation of the copy stand column and a set of custom scripts for cropping and batch renaming.

Sharp, Accurate, Beautiful: Fine Art Digitization without Breaking the Bank!, Christopher Campbell, artist
Abstract: With sufficient knowledge, the quality with which cultural heritage materials can be digitized need not be constrained by limited resources. I am a successful practicing artist with a deep interest in photography, and over the years have assembled — with a limited budget — a set of equipment and procedures that allows me to digitize drawings and paintings at a level comparable to a major institution (FADGI 3–4 star). Components include a 96" copy stand I built from standard aluminum extrusions (80/20), Sony sensors (a7R III, Phase One IQ3 100MP Trichromatic), Zeiss and Rodenstock lenses, color-constant flashes (Einstein E640), and my own object-level targets. Critical workflow details include optimal exposure via RawDigger, superb color profiles from basICColor input pro 6, and image processing and file management (worklist numbering, keywording, cataloging) via Adobe Lightroom (160K images).

FADGI Stars From The Basement, Tom Rieger, Library of Congress
Abstract: My day job involves working with some of the most sophisticated digitization equipment in the world, but once the work-day is done, I am as resource constrained as everyone else.  Over the years I’ve worked out ways to get FADGI Three Star results using a collection of inexpensive, obsolete, re-purposed, or home made tools.  In this short presentation, I’ll share a few of my best discoveries!

David Wyble, Avian Rochester, LLC.


13 OCTOBER 2020 


Smithsonian Mass Digitization Work Safe Initiative for COVID-19 and the Future, Jeanine Nault, Smithsonian Institution
Abstract: The Smithsonian Digitization Program Office (DPO) Mass Digitization team is responsible for integrating mass digitization into the core functions of the Smithsonian, using a sustained, high throughput, high quality, cost-efficient, end-to-end digitization approach. “Mass digitization” as we practice it, pertains to digitizing a large number of archival or museum collection items while also maintaining a high level of object care, safety, and image quality, which we do through a three-step workflow approach that we have piloted, refined, and proven successful, digitizing over 3 million Smithsonian collection items since 2015.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we began crafting a comprehensive document of health and safety protocols for our mass digitization production projects and the teams that work on them, which are a collaboration between the Smithsonian museums, the DPO, the National Collections Program (NCP), and various digitization vendors. The living document draws from reliable public health programs such as the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins University, as well as internal Smithsonian Directives on health, safety, wellness, and environmental programs.

The health and safety protocol, or Work Safe Initiative, has five (5) sections, including Project Requirements, Health and Safety guidelines, Equipment Sanitization and Production Space needs, Collections Care collaboration, and relevant signage for work spaces. This presentation will address all five sections in detail, as well as how mass digitization addresses mission critical needs for the Smithsonian during the current pandemic climate and beyond, as virtual spaces and digital content become essential to research, scholarship, education, collections care, and public outreach..

Moving The Library of Congress Forward in Light of COVID19, Tom Rieger, Library of Congress
Abstract: This talk provides an overview of the changes and adjustments being implemented to the access-based digitization program at the Library of Congress to adapt to the new normal.  Adjustments to the workflow process and implementation of an all-new remote post-processing methodology using both basic and high-end laptop computers in telework, without compromising image quality or production efficiency, are detailed in the presentation.

Planning and Managing Outsourced Digital Imaging Projects, David Walls, US Government Publishing Office
Abstract: Outsourcing digital imaging work is the only option for those without an in-house facility and with limited staff.  Whatever the size of your project or production need, you can design, plan, and manage digital imaging work with contract vendors that meets your organization’s preservation and access needs. 

Providing Digitization Services to External Cultural Heritage Collections, Peter Thiesen, Royal Danish Library
Abstract: The Royal Danish Library has programs in place to digitize books, journals, newspapers, archival materials, maps, graphic art, photographs, audio-visual recordings, and other cultural heritage objects. As a national institution, the Library finances its core digitization activities out of public funds (the state’s finance act) and grant-financed projects. To augment this, the Library has developed a business model that takes in digitization projects from external institutions on marked terms. This commercial service allows the Library to exploit the capacity of our workflows and enhances our overall efficiency, thereby benefiting our internal digitization projects. The digitization quality standards and guidelines we've put in place help us market this service to outside entities.

Pandemic-Proof Digitization, Peter Grisafi, Picturae
Abstract: It takes a team to digitize, but only two to spread a virus. This talk explores different ways your team can tackle a digitization project without ever coming face-to-face with one another. Picturae handles projects across the globe, and this talk shares some insights as to what we’ve learned about the efficacy of remote communication and control.

Pseudo-rapid Imaging at MOMA, Kurt Heumiller, Museum of Modern Art
Abstract: While the nature of fine art collections do not always lend themselves to rapid imaging, the challenge to maintain production during reduced staffing and need for increased social distancing has led to a reevaluation of practices. This talk discusses the question of how rapid imaging practices and digitization guidelines fit in a modern art museum and how can they be adapted to serve the museum's needs.

MEETING CHAIR: Jeanine Nault, Smithsonian Institution




Imaging Standards and Guidelines: Managing Imaging for Cultural Heritage, Peter D. Burns, Burns Digital Imaging LLC
Abstract: For the past two decades, imaging experts organized under the ISO have developed standardized approaches for how to evaluate digital camera and scanner imaging performance. For example, measuring; resolution, exposure, noise, geometric distortion, and color. Several of these have been adopted under guidelines for imaging practice for cultural heritage communities. Following discussion of their development, this talk describes how imaging guidelines are used to specify requirements, select equipment, and support quality assurance efforts. They have also been instrumental in debunking the ‘specsmanship’ of marketing hype, by aiding in objective evaluation and comparison.

Evaluating Spatial Performance for Digital Capture Systems, Don Williams, Image Science Associates
Abstract: Whenever spatial imaging performance is considered in the context of digital imaging, megapixels or dots per inch are often the immediate responses that entertain one’s thinking. While such quantity numbers do set an upper limit on potential resolution of a digital capture system, they mask the quality constraints on quantity. Increasing one, does not compensate for the limits set by the other. This talk shows how, ultimately, the quality and diagnostics of spatial imaging performance are largely dictated by a primary metric, the Spatial Frequency Response (SFR) as specified is ISO 12233.

In an artifact free world, the SFR alone is an excellent indicator of spatial imaging performance, but Mother Nature is not so kind. Spatial noise artifacts introduced in digital capture are numerous. Streaking, banding, color fringing, and de-mosaicing errors are just some of the vernacular terms used to describe such spatial noise artifacts not necessarily diagnosed by the SFR. Some even challenge one’s ability to describe them. Recognizing these artifacts is difficult and error prone with analytical tools which is why visual inspection of them in image editors is often the best approach for identification.

This talk provides examples of both ideal SFRs and spatial artifact corrupted images to help calibrate the attendee.

Evaluating Color Performance, Dave Wyble, Avian Rochester LLC
Abstract: This talk begins with a brief introduction to color measurement appropriate for applications in the DigiTIPS series. It then explores the color metrics as specified in the relevant standards and guidelines. The metrics are "peeled apart" for a more in-depth understanding  than simple aggregate statistics—there is much to be learned besides mean ΔE! Spectral measurement and evaluation are introduced. Finally, some common questions about sources, illuminants, and observers are addressed, and some misconceptions debunked.

FADGI, Metamorfoze, ISO . . . What's the Difference?, Dietmar Wüller, Image Engineering GmbH
Abstract: Back in 2011 the world of image quality evaluation in cultural heritage was divided into the US and Europe. Projects in the US were mainly following the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) and projects in Europe were often based on the Metamorfoze standard, developed by the Dutch Royal Library. Both guidelines defined methods and thresholds for various image quality parameters. Customers, as well as manufacturers of equipment, started asking themselves which standard was better and which to support?

The logical approach was to unify the procedures and thresholds by creating an international standard, which today has become the ISO 19264—but there is more to it than that. The ISO committee also put together a document with best practices and a vocabulary standard to help people and institutions getting digitization projects to work.

This talk explains the documents in some detail and provides an overview of the defined procedures and thresholds, as well as the implementation of image quality evaluation in workflows.

Jeanine Nault, Smithsonian Institution

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