By Tony Rogers BSc FInstCES
The original Globe was built in 1599 but burnt down in 1613 during a performance when a theatrical cannon misfired and ignited the timbers and thatched roof. Despite being rebuilt it was, like all other London theatres, closed by the Puritans in 1642 and finally demolished in 1644.
Shakespeare’s Globe, as it is known today, was instigated by Actor and Director Sam Wannamaker. His vision finally brought about the recreation of the Globe based accurately upon an Elizabethan design in 1977. It is sited on the south bank of The Thames only 200m from its original location and was the first thatched roof building permitted in London since the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The theatre is open to the sky and has a stage that sits within the pit or yard and is surrounded by three tiers of raked seating. Each performance can take 1,300 people, many of those standing in the pit right upto the stage edge.
The theatre is faithfull in every respect (apart from modern services and essential sprinkler system) right down to the construction and layout of the stage with its various hatches and trapdoors which allow the performances to make use of all 4 levels if necessary from Hell, under the stage, to Heaven within the roof. The main buildings which house the exhibition and administration abut the globe theatre - these were not required to be surveyed.
The faithfull recreation using all traditional materials did mean that the structure was either adapted or built ‘almost’ to plan. The green timbers have also shrunk and twisted as they have dried out. The culmination of this is that the theatre lacked accurate plans primarily for the stage and backstage areas which would allow them to plan stage designs, sets and layouts. As nothing is ‘off the shelf’ when running an Elizabethan theatre, being able to take, check and measure dimensions in both 2 and 3 dimensions becomes critical. APR Services were therefore commisioned by Shakespeare’s Globe to Laser Scan the theatre and provide them with pointclouds, 3d models and 2d plans, sections and elevations.
Scanning was carried out using the Faro LS880 over a period of about 2 weeks. Approximately 100 full 360 scans were carried out at all levels around the auditorium and yard as well as at the 4 different levels backstage. Due to the layout of the auditorium, it meant that many scans were required at all levels to avoid large gaps in the data. The exposed timbers throughout, and particularly for the roof and in heaven caused many additional scans. The LS880 has an optional digital camera which, when attached allows high quality photos to be captured and mapped to the cloud data. This was required in this case so that each scan took approx. 15 minutes to complete. All scanning was targeted for registration using a mixture of spheres and flat targets These targets were observed using a total station and tied into closed traverses throughout the stage and auditorium. Scanning distances were kept to less than 20m where possible to achieve the best results in terms of data and image quality.
Fig3 Scan data for the stage.
What problems were encountered?
The survey was carried out early in the year before the season started. This meant that the backstage areas were relatively clear anyway but it was still necessary to get props and backdrops etc moved around backstage to allow scanning floor by floor. This was essential particularly in heaven where all the cloths and drapes were obscuring the timbers.
Despite the theatre not being open for performances, it is open to the public 7 days a week and, as we required colour photography to map to the point clouds, scanning in public areas was generally best carried out before 10.30am when the first tours start. Once tours start there is a continual stream of people through the auditorium as well as many groups carrying out ‘adhoc’ enactments of scenes from Shakespeare plays. Whilst this adds to the marvelous atmosphere within the globe, it is surprising how much the whole stage structure moves when a group start stamping and shouting on the stage. Scanning in hell (below stage) was also difficult as the headroom is less than 5 feet throughout and it was not the place to be when people were on stage.
All scanning was initially tied to OS grid. However, after consultation with the client they realized that for their purposes, the data was best presented on local grid with the stage straight in the x-axis, which did create the need at a late stage to move and rotate not only the models and drawings, but also all of the scan data.
Fig5. Sectional view through stage and auditorium
What were the deliverables?
Back in the office the data was processed in Faro Scene. Data was carefully checked and filtered to remove imperfections in the point clouds and then registered and put onto the correct grid system. All data was then colourised and both colour and intensity scans were imported directly into Pointools and combined and unified. The data was then trimmed and cleaned up. As the data was captured at a high resolution, it was filtered on import to give a 6mm spacing on all surfaces for each scan. Scans were then combined for each area and re-filtered and combined at a uniform 6mm spacing throughout. The cloud data was finally presented to the client at 6,8 and 10mm spacing along with copies of Pointools for them to create their own images and interpolate the data.
Each area was accurately modeled from the scan data to create a model of the whole theatre. As with the scan data, this was broken down into areas for easier handling, 4 stage levels, 3 auditorium levels, roof and outside.
Fig6 View of modeled timber roof in ‘Heaven’
When completed, the client also requested a series of 2d plans and sections. These were automatically extracted from the 3d model, and trimmed and tidied up into finished drawings.
Fig7 Model of Stage
Laser Scanning was ideal for capturing this amazing timber structure and the data was ideal for using to model accurately the complex layout the building. The data has allowed the theatre to have detailed information for their unique set designs not just in the more common 2d way but in 3d as well.
Special thanks are given to Wills at Shakespeare’s Globe for his help and assistance with the survey.
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