Virtual Design Analysis Group is a division of NVentum, LLC.

This unique collaborative endeavor; to utilize the latest reality capture technology to document the artifacts, buildings and campus of History San Jose, provides opportunities for private sector, non-profits and institutions of higher education to work together to solve some of today's most pressing engineering issues. The protocol for retrofitting as-built historic facilities and the use of new technologies to preserve our most prized historic treasures are vital to the continued success and expanded influence of our museums.
This blog will document the challenges and successes of this ambitious, one of a kind project.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Historic Kelley Mansion 
@ Kelley Park, San Jose, CA.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

2015 Summer Technology Camp

The Reality Capture Technology Training Center at History Park.
2015 Summer Technology Camp Project:
The Historic Zanker House; Home of The African American Heritage House 

This fly-through video of the Historic Zanker House at History Park in San Jose developed and completed by Minh Chau Doan, an 11th grade student at San Jose's Notre Dame High School.
 The point cloud contains more than 400,000,000 data points and was developed using a FARO Technologies 3D Focus Laser scanner.

Built in 1868, the Zanker House was moved to History Park
in 1987 and restored in 1988

Project Powered by FARO

Friday, July 17, 2015

2015 Reality Capture Technology Camp

The Historic Zanker House at History Park...
Zanker House at History Park

is the focus for this year's week long Reality Capture Technology Camp. Built in 1868, the home of William F. Zanker, his wife and eight children was originally located on Zanker Road in Alviso. The Zankers grew strawberries, asparagus and pears on their ranch.

The house was moved to History Park in 1987 and the restoration was completed in 1988. The Zanker house is home to the African American Heritage House at History Park.

This year's program will focus on the exterior and interior documentation of the historic house.
Students will start by scanning and producing a point of the the home. The students will register the point cloud data and develop a brief fly-through video of the project. Once the registration process is complete, the students will be given an opportunity to complete an independent laser scanning project. The week long program will conclude with a second more detailed digital documentation of the Zanker house. This second scanning process will include colorized laser scans.

FARO 3D Focus Scanner w/
FARO Freestyle Scanner
This year, we'll be working exclusively with FARO Technologies scanners for our summer documentation projects. The FARO 3D Focus will allow students to laser scan and texture map their work with the press of a button. 

The FARO Freestyle handheld laser scanner will be used to document some of the larger artifacts in the Collection Center. This will be my first time using the Freestyle and I am excited to see what the capabilities of this new product are and how we might be able to use it for our ongoing projects. If it is anything like FARO's other products, we are sure to be pleased.

Given last summer's documentation of the historic Santa Ana One Room Schoolhouse, it made perfect sense to document the building in closest proximity; the Zanker House. The laser scan below was taken during last summer's project. The Santa Ana Schoolhouse is located in the center of the image. The house on the far right of the image is the Zanker House. 

Last Summer's Project
The Santa Ana One Room Schoolhouse
We look forward to the project at hand and we are excited about all the wonderful possibilities. A special thank you to all of our partners and supporters; History San Jose, Matt Daly of FARO Technologies, Preservation Action Council. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reality Capture Technology Summer Camp

Coming July 2015

The Reality Capture Technology Training Center will host our second annual summer technology camp at History Park in San Jose. The week long camp provides participants with hands on experience using state of the art laser scanning and photogrammetry technology to digitally document the historic buildings and artifacts at History Park. The data from the buildings and artifacts documented by the student/participants becomes part of the History San Jose archives and will eventually be featured in a major 3D exhibition.

Laser Scan from 2014 Summer Camp
by Aaron and Adam Rhetta
 Current reality capture technology allows users to collect billions of point measurements fast and safely, then register scans to create an accurate photo realistic unified 3D point cloud model. The overall benefit of the 3D model is extreme accuracy of the data collected and the ability to seamlessly transfer knowledge and information from user to user, user to client or user to the general public.

Whether you have an interest in art, animation, architecture, building/construction, design, engineering, forensic investigation, geomatics, operations or surveying, reality capture technology will play a major role in the future of these and related vocations.
Laser Scan by
Brittany Bradley and Liz York
JFK University

We are looking for students from 8th grade through 12th grade who are interested in participating in the summer technology camp.Students must be residents of Santa Clara County and must commit to the entire week long program.

We are also looking for college interns with an interest in architecture, computer science (software), construction, engineering, photography, surveying or related fields who are interested in learning about new technology.

Laser Scan X Section of
the Historic Pasetta House
Camp Schedule:
July 13th   9:00am to 4:00pm
July 14th   9:00am to 4:00pm
July 15th   9:00am to 4:00pm
July 16th   9:00am to 4:00pm
July 17th   9:00am to 4:00pm the Historic Pacific Hotel at History Park in San Jose. 
Leica 6000s
Laser Scanner

Registration begins Monday May 18th
for information, email Brian Miller at:

Laser Scan of Associated Oil Station at History Park w/300,000,000 Data pts.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Kelley House
...Let's Talk About The Project
The opportunity to document such an iconic San Jose home was one we had been looking forward to for quite some time. Knowing the home was scheduled to be demolished added a level of urgency and a unusual sense of concern. There are no mulligans, no "do-overs"; the process has to be thorough, detailed and correct the first time. With many projects, you can take data back to the office for processing. If you happen to find that rare error, you can go back and re-scan the area in question and correct the problem. This is not one of "those" projects; the Kelley House has been scheduled for demolition. 

Some may wonder what is the value of laser scanning a building that has been totally destroyed by fire and water damage. What can we learn from the scans? What can be done with the data collected and why is this important?

Though the structure is a total loss, there is a lot of information that can be retrieved from laser scans. For example, the fire exposed the inner walls and ceilings and several areas of the home. The construction materials and methods used at the turn of the century, when the home was constructed are clearly visible. The exterior and interior walls of the home are heavily damaged but still intact. Laser scanning the building will give us the first millimeter accurate floor plan of the 100 year old historic home. 
From a forensic investigation perspective, a detailed point cloud of the home would allow investigators to trace and document the origins of the fire. These are a few of the things we can learn from the laser scanning process.
Beautiful Crown Molding
In the Library
In addition to extracting information from the point cloud, the user(s) can add/store information about the home within the point cloud using BIM software. Everything from notes about the type of materials and methods used to construct the custom bookshelves to details about the craftsmen that built the home's custom solarium can be downloaded into the software. This can provide a wealth of information for researchers, students or for anyone interested in the reconstruction of the home.
Now that the data has been collected, what do we do with it? I mentioned we could use BIM software and download a bunch of information about the building into the point cloud. 
We can model the existing data we've gathered.
We can also virtually reconstruct the house using a combination of the laser scans  historic photos. 
We can use the data collected to create training curriculum for the RCTTC. (..and we will!)
We can build an exhibit for the Preservation Action Council, Kelley Park and History San Jose.
Anything is possible, but first we must capture the data. 

It's critical that we capture the data as accurately and quickly as possible. For this reason, I decided to utilize both the FARO 3D Focus Laser Scanner and the trusty Z&F 6000 scanner to capture and document the home. Redundancy is a good thing... One of the challenges of this
project was capturing colorized laser scans of the property. The home was/is surrounded by dense, heavy foliage that creates lots of shadows and limits lighting both inside and outside of the home. For those who are familiar with laser scanning understand that while the laser requires no light at all, creating colorized laser scans involves the use of cameras. Of course, cameras do require light to capture detail and this is where the challenges begin. In addition to the heavy foliage, power to the house was destroyed during the fire. I didn't bring a generator therefore artificial light sources were not a viable option. The only thing I could do is rely on the FARO scanner settings to adjust for lighting deficiencies; not the best option but the most reasonable given the circumstances. The other "quick fix" would be to eliminate the colorized scans completely, therefore nullifying the lighting concerns. I decided to document the home and attempt to capture colorized scans of the the interior and exterior. 

I started by scanning the exterior of the home on the first day. Due to the heavy foliage and abundant shade, I set the scanner for an "Outdoor Cloudy" setting. Several times during the
scanning process, FARO's built in camera had trouble with the heavy shade and intermittent but very bright sunlight coming through the trees. At one point, I considered not using the camera at all. Not using the camera would eliminate the lighting issues, save power and save time. However, for reasons of consistency, I decided to continue to use the camera for all the scans. After all, you can never have too much data. If the quality of the colorized scans is not up to par, we can always discard the photos and still have an extremely accurate historic record of the home.
Kelley House Library

Day three of the project brought us inside the home for to begin scanning the second floor. This was one of the more nerve racking parts of the entire job. The area was hazardous to put things politely. The damage from the fire was extensive and had been exposed to the elements for 34 months. The near "monsoon" rains we had a couple of weeks earlier didn't help matters much. There were areas of the floor where you could see from the second floor clear through to the basement. I was not only focused on the job, I was also ever aware that each step I took had the potential to send me through the floor and possibly through to the concrete basement below. The hazards of a collapsed, fire damaged roof and floor were not the only things to look out for. The abandoned home had become a haven for all types of critters, big and small. In three days of scanning, I saw a fox run from the basement, I saw a raccoon on the
Second Floor Landing
back porch and the smell of highly irritable skunk was evident each morning and afternoon. So, as you were watching your step to avoid falling through the floor, you were also watching to avoid putting you foot or your tripod in a pile of "critter scat". Under these conditions is where the FARO 3D Focus laser Scanner really shines. The light weight, compact size made it the ideal tool for working in such a restrictive environment. Using any other scanner under these circumstances would have been a MAJOR undertaking.

 Day four was the beginning of the documentation of the first floor of the house. For this portion of the project, we decided to use the Z&F 6000 laser scanner. The difference in the scanners we used is significant and operation of both scanners on this project highlighted those differences. The range on the Z&F scanner is dramatically superior to the FARO. This allowed us to capture targets and detail of areas that we couldn't capture with the FARO. An area that we could capture in 2 scans with the Z&F would take 4 or 5 scans with the FARO. In some ways, the range of the Z&F makes up for the size and lack of mobility when compared with the FARO, in theory. (...Try telling that to a person(s) who are carrying the scanner and supporting equipment up and down several flights of stairs.) Given the lighting problems we encountered inside the house, the colorized laser scans would be more problems than they were worth. Though the Z&F scanner does not have a built in camera, it also doesn't have a lot of settings and options. It is pretty straight forward; set the scanner resolution, press the button and let it do it's job. Operating the FARO 3D Focus takes much more consideration and requires attention to the settings before each scan in order to guarantee the best quality product.
Custom Redwood Bookshelves
Kelley House Library

Combining the data from two different scanners used to be problematic however FARO Scene does except data collected from Leica and Z&F scanners. The key to processing the data is to convert the scans to aPTX. file. We are currently processing the data; registering all 120 scans from both scanners in FARO Scene. We expect to have the project completed and turned over to our client by the first of next week...Stay tuned for the next step in the Kelley House Project.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Historic Kelley Kelley Park, San Jose, CA.

In 1861 Judge Lawrence Archer purchased 160 acres just outside of San José’s city limits. He named the property around Coyote Creek “Lone Oak.” Archer moved his family in 1869, from their downtown home to a two-story house surrounded by elaborate gardens and accessed by two avenues lined with pepper, cypress and eucalyptus trees. There he grew orchards of prunes, apricots, walnuts, and was especially proud of his cherries. A well respected resident and attorney, Archer came to California in 1852 and settled in San Jose in 1853. Active in community service, he was Mayor of San José in 1856 and 1878; a County Judge from 1867 – 71; and served at State Assemblyman from 1875 – 76. Archer left his “Lone Oak” property to his only daughter, Louise Archer Flavin Kelley. She inherited the land in 1910 and it became known as “Ar-Kel” an abbreviation of her maiden and married names...From HSJ webapage. www.historysanjoseorg

Built in 1912, the 5,600 square foot Kelley House is part of what is now Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, the Japanese Gardens, Kelley Park and History Park

After sitting abandoned for many years, the Kelley Mansion fell into disrepair. In 1994,estimates to rebuild the historic home were in nearly $2 million

In February 2012, the Kelley House was destroyed by a two alarm fire

For the past 34 months, the home has sat abandoned and exposed to the elements. The damage to the roof of the home was extensive; seventy percent of the roof was damaged by the fire. The remainder of the roof was damaged due to time and the elements.

The Kelley House is scheduled for demolition in early January 2015.

In, December 2014, NVentum, LLC. was asked to create a
digital record of the historic San Jose property prior to demolition.

So, on Saturday December 27th with trusty FARO in hand, the 
process of creating accurate historic record began with the laser scanning of the exterior of the Kelley House.

Over the next several days, the exterior, second story and solarium were laser scanned and photographed with the latest FARO 3D Focus Scanner.

The project concludes on New Years Day with the documentation of the first floor of the home.
After we have collected the data on this historic home, what next?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 Reality Capture Summer Technology Camp
July 12-19, 2014 at History Park in San Jose.

Our Summer Project, The Santa Ana School House

This past July, the Reality Capture Technology Training Center hosted its first week long technology camp.
We welcomed students ranging from 11th grade through graduate school to assist us in the digital documentation of the historic Santa Ana One Room School House on the campus of History Park.

This first time program provided a great opportunity for students to not only plan the process, but also use the latest laser scanning technology to complete the digital documentation.

I've attached some stills from the documentation process completed by the students.

Laser Scan by Liz York and Brittany Bradley
Z&F 6000S Laser Scanner

Liz York is a Graduate student from JFK University in Berkeley. Museum Collections and Curatorship is Liz's specialty. 

Laser Scan by Liz York and Brittany Bradley of JFK University
Z&F 6000S Laser Scanner at High Resolution

Brittany Bradley is a Graduate student from JFK University in Berkeley. MBA student in Museum Studies,  Brittany's has a minor is in photography

Laser Scan by Adam and Aaron Rhetta
Z&F 6000S Laser Scan at High Resolution
Adam Rhetta is a student at 
Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose, CA. Aaron plans to study engineering in college.

Aaron Rhetta is in his second year at Evergreen Valley College. He'll be transferring to San Jose State University and majoring in Environmental Studies.

FARO 3D Focus
Laser Scanner
Program Basics:

Hardware- Faro 3D Focus Laser Scanner, Z&F 6000S Laser Scanner, Cannon EOS Rebel SLR Camera, Fisheye and Standard Lens

Software: Autodesk ReCap 360, Cyclone, Autodesk 1-2-3D Catch

Z&F 6000S
Laser Scanner