Around the World in 80 Models: Biron

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Hop on board as we continue our journey Around the World in 80 Models! We began our itinerary at Sketchfab headquarters in New York and are working our way through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and North America. To catch up on past destinations, check out the rest of the Around the World in 80 Models series.

This week we head to Biron, where aerial photographer Philippe Graindorge (aka Gerpho) takes us on a tour of a 12th century castle.

Biron, France: Chateau

My name is Philippe Graindorge, I’m French, and I live in Périgord, France. It’s a region of prehistoric caves and paintings, beautiful rivers and “châteaux”. I started my professional career as a research scientist in a hi-tech company. In 2005, when things became difficult in the field I was working in, I became a professional aerial photographer. I discovered the modern photogrammetric technology in 2013 with Acute3D’s Smart3Dcapture software. I instantly obtained great results and started developing a know-how in this field.


My experience as an aerial photographer was of great help, I knew what techniques to favor and avoid when shooting from a plane. And my background as a scientist helped a lot too, both in understanding the underlying technologies, and in getting all the parameters right to make 3D photos. Of course there was a lot of trial and error in the beginning, and I still experiment a lot, but I quickly managed to make predictable 3D model as requested from my customers.


I always shoot from a plane or a helicopter with my camera (Nikon D800, 36Mpixels), this camera makes beautiful pictures, which is most important in getting a good 3D result. For large and complicated scenes, it helps to be onboard the plane so that I can concentrate on the scene, focus on the difficult parts and make sure I don’t miss anything; this is something I can’t do when shooting from a drone. Besides, the useful range of a drone is limited and isn’t really suited for large scenes. Once back on the ground, I post-process all the photos and finally use Context Capture (formerly Smart3Dcapture) to generate the 3D model. This software has outstanding performances and features.

The “château de Biron” has one of the most exceptional architectures in Périgord. Built during the 12th century, it was strategic during the wars that took place between the French and the English between the 12th and the 15th centuries in that region. Because of this, it was partly destroyed then rebuilt and extended. It slowly became an ensemble of several parts which have been added to the initial building; it reflects the evolution of architecture and the way of living over the centuries. The chapel (1515) has a very unique characteristic, since there are two levels each with it’s separate entrance, one level with the village for the peasants, and one above, in the château’s yard for the noble family living there!


19th and 20th centuries were years of decline until it was bought by the County Council of Dordogne who restored the whole site beautifully. Nowadays, all the rooms are empty of furniture, but one can appreciate the superb wooden floors and walls in all these huge rooms, all connected, through narrow winding stairs : a real maze.
Modern art exhibitions take place every year within the chateau : for example an exhibition of the masterpieces of the Maeght Foundation with artists such as Miro, Calder, Giacommetti…opened during the summer 2016. I loved visiting this outstanding exhibition. In my opinion, the exhibition alone was worth the trip, but combined with a visit to the chateau, it’s unforgivable to miss it!

To see more of Philippe’s models here on Sketchfab, check out his profile!

About the author

Abby & Néstor

Abby and Néstor are Sketchfab Masters.
Abby Crawford, Ph.D. is trained in and passionate about Roman Archaeology and works as a freelance artifact illustrator and 3D scanner in California.
Néstor F. Marqués is a virtual Heritage & cultural diffusion researcher, and an enthusiast of ancient Rome’s culture.

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