Researchers with a wide variety of interests make use of the manuscripts housed in M&ARL, but it is not every day that we get a call from the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. Róisín Rowley-Brooke, a PhD student working with Dr. François Pitié of Sigmedia Research, were interested in improving the digital reproduction of manuscript material with significant areas of ‘bleed through’, a phenomenon which occurs when ink from the reverse of a page shows through to the other side. Róisín and François worked from digital images of one of our fifteenth-century Irish medical texts, but they had never actually seen an original medieval manuscript and were keen to do so. We were happy to arrange a ‘meeting’ and the image above records the event. Below they explain their research in more depth:
Digitisation of original document sources for the purpose of conservation, detailed study, and facilitating access for a wider audience has been an increasing trend over recent years, particularly with constantly improving imaging technology available at ever decreasing costs. One of the advantages of this is that the images can be digitally manipulated to improve the document legibility or to enhance particular details of interest.
Our research has focused on a particular type of document degradation – bleed-through, where ink from one side of the page has seeped through and becomes visible on the other side, reducing legibility. Restoration of bleed-through degradation is important both to improve legibility for scholars studying the documents online, but also for improving the performance of subsequent content-based processing, such as Optical Character Recognition. We have developed image-restoration techniques that use both sides of the page to locate and remove bleed-through degradation automatically, whilst preserving the background texture and document character in the output.
Róisín Rowley-Brooke and Dr. François Pitié