Two shipwrecks, 2500 metres underwater, six 3D cameras

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Two shipwrecks, 2500 metres underwater, six 3D cameras
Let the survey begin
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In April/May 2015, a team led by Curtin University, WA Museum and DOF Subsea conducted a 3D imaging survey of the two historic shipwrecks HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran. The Australian vessel HMAS Sydney and the German vessel HSK Kormoran encountered each other in the midst of World War II on the 19th of November in 1941 off the Western Australian coast. After a fierce battle both ships sank each other and they now lie in 2500 m (8200 feet) water depth, 200 km (125 miles) offshore from Shark Bay. This event is Australia's largest loss of life in a single maritime disaster - with the entire crew of 645 perishing on the Sydney and 82 crew lost on the Kormoran. The exact location of the two wrecks remained unknown for almost 70 years until they were discovered in 2008. The aim of the 2015 expedition was to conduct a detailed 3D imaging survey of the two wrecks and their extensive debris fields. A custom underwater lighting and camera package was developed for fitment to two work-class underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) as often used in the offshore oil and gas industry. The camera package included six 3D cameras, and fourteen digital still cameras fitted across the two ROVs intended to capture feature photography, cinematography and 3D reconstruction photography. The camera package included six underwater stereoscopic cameras (three on each ROV) which captured a mix of 3D HD video footage, 3D stills, and 3D 4K video footage. High light levels are key to successful underwater photography and the system used a suite of ten LED underwater lights on each ROV to achieve artistic and effective lighting effects. At the conclusion of four days of diving, the team had collected over 500,000 stills and over 300 hours of HD footage. The collected materials will contribute towards the development of museum exhibitions at the WA Museum and partner institutions, and the development of a feature documentary. Another key technology being deployed on this project is photogrammetric 3D reconstruction which allows the generation of photo-realistic digital 3D models from a series of 2D photographs. These digital 3D models can be visualised in stereoscopic 3D and potentially 3D printed in full-colour to create physical reproductions of items from the sea floor. This presentation will provide an overview of the expedition, a summary of the technology deployed, and an insight into the 3D imaging materials captured. © 2016, Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T).