Nittany Lion Shrine: Ready for Its Closeup

September 24, 2009 at 6:49 pm 4 comments

DSC_0061 sm striped lionLike a lot of Penn Staters, I’ve got a bit of an attachment to the Nittany Lion Shrine. What can I say? My wedding photos were taken there.

So of course I made it a point to stop by this week as the shrine underwent digital 3D scanning, which will enable it to be rebuilt or repaired in the event of severe damage.

It turns out that the guys doing the scan, Greg Robinson and Kyle Herr of Survice Metrology, were just as excited. “We don’t usually get to be outside like this,” Robinson said. It turns out that while the stuff on Survice’s website highlights the really cool stuff, such as scanning a priceless Sphinx at the Metropolitan Museum of Art so that it’s preserved for posterity, a lot of the job is pretty routine. Satellite dishes. Hydroelectric plants.

And they weren’t inflexible on the “off-limits” thing, either. When a group that had come all the way from Atlanta appeared, they moved the equipment out of the way so the travelers could get the photo they came for.

DSC_4985 sm scannerThe process itself, honestly, wasn’t all that compelling to watch. Robinson and Herr marked the statue with some reference points that looked as if they were pounded into the limestone, but turned out to be simply attached with blue painters’ tape. That’s a trick they picked up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“They tested the tape, and they let us use it on the 4,500-year old Sphinx,” Robinson said, smiling. “So if it’s safe for that, it’s safe for this Nittany Lion.”

They had brought an automatic scanner, but that wasn’t working. So Herr (right) worked over the statue by hand, and as he did so, you could watch the Nittany Lion appear on a computer monitor. Late Tuesday afternoon, only the paws were visible. (You can see for yourself in the photo below. All of these shots, by the way, were taken by our editor, Tina Hay ’83.) By Wednesday morning, however, it was possible to see almost the whole lion, minus a few holes.

Later Wednesday, to supplement the scanning, the guys bathed the shrine in white light, which gives them additional data for the scan. You can get a sense of what that looks like with Tina’s picture above, which shows the stripes.

DSC_4983 sm paws on screenIt’s nice to know that in case of emergency, the Nittany Lion Shrine could be rebuilt. But there are other long-term plans, too–including possibly animating the shrine and making it move. WPSU producer Kristian Berg, who was onsite with a camera crew, is hoping to find a way to make that happen.

I’m rooting for that, too.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

Entry filed under: University Park. Tags: , , .

Running Barefoot Ted Anthony on Pittsburgh

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jangkrik Bos  |  September 26, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    you are very good…

  • 2. Peggy Long  |  October 2, 2009 at 9:59 am

    This is a great story.
    The Nittany Lion was scanned using the Metris K-Scan optical CMM.
    I’d like your permission to reprint the story.

  • […] Click here to read more on this fascinating article by Lori Shontz […]

  • 4. Kristian Berg  |  November 26, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    And WPSU/Penn State Public Media did finally make the Lion Shrine come to life through computer animation based on the 3D laser scan. Its on YouTube:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Follow The Penn Stater on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 493 other followers

%d bloggers like this: