717-gigapixel photo shows me the details of Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’

From ancient times to the present, paintings are precious treasures when we look back on the past. In them, we can see, in addition to the author's ideas, the social consciousness of different periods, and even the production level at that time from the materials.

Even in the sci-fi work "Three-Body Problem", when the lifespan of the solar system in three-dimensional space is about to come to an end, there are world-famous paintings in the legacy that human beings want to leave:

Luo Ji tapped a metal box next to him with his crutches and said, "I said, this is not the main part. Most of these things are within 50,000 years old, and those statues are said to be able to preserve millions of years. Years, but I don't recommend that you move the statues, although it's not difficult to move here, but it takes up too much space… Well, you can take it as you like, pick what you like and take it."

AA looked at the boxes around her excitedly, "I suggest that we take more paintings and less ancient manuscripts, anyway, no one will understand those things in the future." She walked to a metal box, on which When a button-like place was pressed, the box did not open automatically, and there was no information prompt. Cheng Xin walked over and lifted the lid with great difficulty. AA took out an oil painting from inside.

The paintings of famous artists are precious, but how to properly preserve and disseminate them has always been a difficult problem. The method used by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in the Netherlands is to take a "high-definition photo" of the painting.

▲ "Night Watch", picture from: Rijksmuseum

As the greatest painter in Dutch history, Rembrandt's 1642 painting "The Night Watch" has always been the most dazzling work in the Rijksmuseum, and the museum has also launched a "long-term preservation of this painting". Operation Night Watch", the largest and most extensive research and conservation project in the history of Rembrandt's masterpiece.

As part of the operation, a 5.6 terabyte photo was taken for The Night Watch. In fact, the museum has used an improved X-ray fluorescence analyzer called Macro-XRF to take an ultra-high-definition image of the painting with 44.8 billion pixels and a distance between each pixel of only 20 microns .

▲ Picture from: Rijksmuseum

This "Night Watch" was upgraded again. The team used the 100-megapixel Hasselblad H6D 400 MS camera to take a total of 8,439 photos measuring 5.5 cm x 4.1 cm, and then used a neural network to check the color and clarity of each image. These smaller photos are then stitched together, resulting in a large image of 717 billion pixels.

In this "masterpiece", the distance between two pixels is only 5 microns (0.005 mm), and a pixel is smaller than a human red blood cell, which means we can see more details on "Night Watch": Lun Brown's delicate light and shadow, the patterns on people's clothes, the spots on their faces… even the tiny pigment particles.

▲ Picture from: Rijksmuseum

▲ Picture from: Rijksmuseum

The reason why the Rijksmuseum of the Netherlands took so much effort to take an ultra-high-definition image for "Night Watch" is not only because the painting itself is of great value, but also because of the transformation that many museums in the world are making today – the digitization of museums.

Although the information behind paintings and other cultural relics is precious, how to let people understand this precious information is also very important. The development of the Internet has given cultural relics a new display window in the new era. With the help of digitization, Rembrandt's authentic works can be enjoyed even far away on the other side of the ocean.

▲ Picture from: Christie’s

Not only can you view authentic works without leaving your home, but for the protection of cultural relics, even if you visit the museum in person, there is always a distance between people and the exhibits, and it is difficult to see the details above. Now with digital means, you only need to Move the mouse wheel on the screen, and you can observe as finely as putting a painting under a microscope.

The painting has a "new look", and people will have a new way to look at the painting. In the "Night Watch Operation" of the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands, not only can you see the original ultra-high-definition "Night Watch", but also in the museum. See the comparison between its reconstructed and restored version and the partially missing version on its website, playing a game of "Find the Difference" (1715 when The Night Watch was moved from the meeting hall of the militia detachment to the public display of the Amsterdam City Hall. , all four sides are cropped to match the new space.)

▲ Picture from: Rijksmuseum

From the tip of the pen to the paper, from the stack of paints to a string of data, "Night Watch" has blossomed with new vitality in the change of time. In the digitalization process of the information age, I hope that more paintings and cultural relics can be recovered from the past. Come closer to our present, and then go further into the future.

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