A Spectacular LiDAR Look at the 600 Year Old Duomo di Milano

Created from 3D Point Clouds Collected with the RIEGL VZ-400i

RIEGL, along with our long-term Italian distributor Microgeo srl, and their software partner, NUBIGON, invite you to take a rare look at this gothic style cathedral, the largest church in Italy, with a spectacular 90-second video created from a 3D colorized LiDAR point cloud.

CLICK IMAGE BELOW for Video of 3D LiDAR Point Cloud of Duomo di Milano, 2020

The above video is the result of a demonstration in early 2020 of the RIEGL VZ-400i to show the scanner’s capabilities, and what is possible to produce with the data. Microgeo srl is a reseller of both RIEGL scanning systems and the NUBIGON software used to create the video.

The demonstration of the RIEGL VZ-400i at the Duomo di Milano was conducted by technicians from RIEGL distribution partner, Microgeo srl in Florence, Italy. The subsequent video created from the point clouds was produced under Microgeo’s direction by NUBIGON, an international software company that allows users to make the most of LiDAR data to create animations, videos and computer models.

Microgeo experienced unprecedented open access to the area, enabling them to perform the scans without the thousands of visitors who typically would be present. The RIEGL VZ-400i terrestrial laser scanner was available and Microgeo was able to quickly mobilize for an early morning scan just prior to the official region lockdown due to COVID-19 in early 2020.

Italy Experienced Tragedy with COVID-19

Tragically, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy was hit hard early by the spread of the virus that begin in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The virus is believed to have spread to Italy around January 31 with only two cases. Within a few weeks, the virus had spread exponentially and it was evident to all that things were likely to get much worse before they got better.

This beautiful country was locked down progressively as the world became aware of the possibility of a growing pandemic. Just weeks following the initial two cases, beginning on February 22, 2020, Italy issued a regional quarantine within certain zones in central and northern Italy, including Milan. As the leaders realized the frightening potential of this virus, a further lockdown of 15 northern and regional provinces was initiated on March 8, and a national lockdown began just two days later on March 10, placing more than 60 million people in quarantine. The impact is staggering to think about.

With a Lockdown Imminent, the Duomo di Milano Was Deserted, Giving Microgeo the Opportunity to Make an Unobstructed Digital Twin if They Moved Quickly

The majestic Duomo di Milano is located in Milan, the capitol of Lombardy, which was arguably the first and hardest hit Region of Italy. This world class city is a mecca for tourism, art, fashion, entertainment, healthcare and everything you would expect from an area with 8.2 million people.

Even before the lockdown, the people of the region had drastically reduced their trips outside the house. This provided a small window of time that allowed technicians from Microgeo safe access and an unobstructed view of the 600 year old church and surrounding galleria. Microgeo’s team of two people went to the Duomo di Milano very early one morning and captured the data quickly, with 60 unique scans that took less than a minute each.

Microgeo’s Lombardy Sales Manager said, “It was a special sensation – a surreal situation – but also it was an opportunity to capture the site and show it in all its beauty.”

Equipment and Software Used

  • RIEGL VZ-400i Terrestrial Laser Scanner
  • Nikon D610 Nikkor 14mm HDR Camera
  • External GPS
  • RIEGL Software Suite
  • NUBIGON 3D Visualization and Modeling Software

It was good that they performed the early morning scans when they did, because soon afterwards the northern and central regions of Italy, and then the entire country were placed into a full lockdown due to COVID-19. But by then the team from Microgeo had the data sets “in the can” so to speak, and sent the files digitally to big-data and reality capture software innovator, NUBIGON, at their Austria location.

NUBIGON collaborated with technicians at Microgeo, and imported the files into their online software suite to create an impressive 90-second video that shows the church exterior and the galleria in colorized 3D. Creation of the video was completed in only one day.

The Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery. Image courtesy of Microgeo

Microgeo is a reseller of this software and can be contacted for more details about how it works with data collected from the ground or air using the various RIEGL scanners. A meeting with Microgeo can help users select  the  right technology for different applications.

The deliverables included raw point cloud files, colorized 2-D and 3-D images, and the resulting video that has now been seen by thousands of people. The exercise provided Microgeo and NUBIGON a chance to work as a team to demonstrate the valuable applications of LiDAR.

The Microgeo  Area  Sales  Manager  said, “ Our clients include topographers, geologists, engineers, and big and small companies in the geomatic and survey fields. We hope that this demonstration proves the value of the RIEGL scanners for creating digital twins quickly, and with little notice, whenever the unlikely opportunity presents itself. It was also an impressive example of the software NUBIGON developed and has available.”

About the Duomo di Milano

The Duomo di Milano reopened on May 29 and is now open to tourists. The cost for tickets begins at € 2 for the Cathedral, and some areas are free. The official website has a wealth of information about the church and has a link to a 360º tour that is also worth taking a look. It’s awe inspiring. https:// www.duomomilano.it/en/

Point cloud of Duomo di Milano, 2020. collected by Microgeo srl with the RIEGL VZ-400i scanner. Image courtesy of Microgeo srl.

For history buffs, you may be interested to learn that construction began in 1386 and took six centuries to complete, formally ending in 1965.

The building is 158.6 meters (520 ft) long, 92 meters (302 ft) wide, and 108 meters (354 ft) tall. The dome height is 65.6 meters (215 ft) (outer), and it features 135 spires!

So, if YOU are in quarantine, self imposed or otherwise, make yourself a nice aperol spritz, and scoop up a little gelato for the kids. Gather everyone close, and then connect to your big screen for a visit to the Duomo di Milano in the LiDAR generated video, and the video on https://www.duomomilano.it/ en/.

Tune in to some Boccelli. And enjoy your own little summer concert!

Celebrate the reopening of lovely Italy and toast to the people who have survived and endured. To our colleagues in Italy, we toast to your health. Brindiamo alla tua salute!

For More Information:

Microgeo srl

Microgeo srl. provides solutions and competence in the fields of survey and measurements. Microgeo was created to promote and manage the technical and commercial skills in many important fields of contact less measurement.


NUBIGON is a powerful reality capture software for advanced point cloud visualization and 3D modeling. It is uniquely capable of visualizing LiDAR and photogrammetric point clouds at full resolution in real-time, regardless of data size. By combining the highest level of spatial accuracy with unprecedented visual appeal, our software makes reality capture more efficient, reliable and marketable in AEC.


RIEGL is an international leading provider of cutting-edge technology in airborne, mobile, terrestrial, industrial and unmanned laser scanning solutions.


RIEGL is an international leading provider of cutting-edge technology in airborne, mobile, terrestrial, industrial and unmanned laser scanning solutions.

RIEGL has been producing LiDAR systems commercially for over 40 years and focuses on pulsed time-of-flight laser radar technology in multiple wavelengths.

RIEGL’s core Smart-Waveform technologies provide pure digital LiDAR signal processing, unique methodologies for resolving range ambiguities, multiple targets per laser shots, optimum distribution of measurements, calibrated amplitudes and reflectance estimates, as well as the seamless integration and calibration of systems.

RIEGL’s Ultimate LiDARTM 3D scanners offer a wide array of performance characteristics and serve as a platform for continuing “Innovation in 3D” for the LiDAR industry.

From the first inquiry, to purchase and integration of the system, training and support; RIEGL maintains an outstanding history of reliability and support to their customers.

Worldwide sales, training, support and service are delivered from RIEGL’s headquarters in Austria; main offices in the USA, Japan, China, and Australia; and by a worldwide network of representatives covering Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia and Africa.

Author: Jacklyn VanderPol, RIEGL Editorial Content Provider, The Fulcrum International, Inc. jv@thefulcrumintl.com

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