Automating the capture process

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As part of our ongoing efforts to develop and adopt workflow practices that increase the amount and quality of images we put into our digital archive we are always looking at new changes to our digitization process. Currently we are making a shift away from flatbed scanners in favor of camera based imaging for its speed and flexibility. During this switch we are taking a look at our optimization procedures. here are our current thoughts on the possibilities.

Camera based image capture is very quick in comparison to a flatbed scanner, however the optimization and quality control process are unchanged in terms of their use of time and resources. We are looking to the software we have, open source options, and scripting to provide an easy, robust, and flexible avenue for making our images that will soak up portions of the baseline resource costs that speed of imaging hardware, no matter how fast, will never help to improve.

Item, template frame, digital overlay, and changes can all be seen from Canon EOS Utility's LiveView window. The interchangeable frame lines up with the registration block, the confetti border is one of a set of standard digital overlays that verify the position of the paper frame. (technically the digital overlay frame is all that is required to make this happen, but we have some older 5D's that cant do Liveview.)

We are testing with a low tech approach, (low tech helps with the “easy” and “robust” requirements)… called registration.

This is not ground breaking by any means but lines up with workflow standardization efforts. The basic idea is, if you know the camera is always looking at the same spot, and you fix a “registration point” to the document table so it never moves. Objects to be digitized are lined up against this point. Then you can quickly and flexibly swap formatting frames depending on the size and shape of the item being imaged. Matching the item to a standardized frame in a fixed location in the raw image allows you to apply a “blind” file optimization to the camera raw when creating the archival tiff.

This is the key obstruction to any number of automated things that might need to be done to the image files after the initial raw file is taken. At the moment we are using Photoshop’s Camera Raw Editor to make synchronized edits to multiple images all taken within a printed and cutout paper template.

A next step would be to make a full series of frame template sizes and a .BAT file for each one that applies a template specific ImageMagick command to all files in a specific folder. Imagine snapping off 500 images from a book and then clicking a shortcut that cleans them all up and exports a .tif and a .jpg without even having to open them up!

From there a scripted GUI sits and waits for images to show up in a folder, then optimizes them saves the exports to a specific collection folder and logs the image in your monthly production tracking documentation.

I’ll post more on this as it develops!



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