3d image scanning

We’ve been experimenting a lot with 3D photo scanning / photogrammetry in our motion capture suite. Photogrammetry is a widely used tool in the games industry, as it enables artists to create detailed 3D models of an object or environment (including high res textures) from a series of photographs. Its benefits are improving accuracy and speeding up workflow of creating detailed meshes.

Application

While used extensively in the creation of video games for capturing realistic environment and character details, photogrammetry can also be used for any animation project. It’s a relatively straightforward process although there’s a lot of optimisation and research and development (R&D) in between. Essentially, you take photographs of the physical object then convert it to a 3D object. The 3D object created provides either a highly accurate model used in a video or animation, or provides a reference from which a simpler/user friendly mesh can be created to animate and deform properly.

Process

Using Agisoft Photoscan, we’ve been refining our process to efficiently and accurately make use of the software. Our animators have been R&D-ing to find the optimum scenarios for taking photographs and processing them. In our Play room, we used our green screen and lighting setup to ensure soft and evenly lit objects, with an easily keyable backdrop for creating an alpha channel to provide better results. We created a turntable setup with a pulley system, so the camera remains still on a tripod while the object is rotated. This system provided more stable and consistent images for the software to interpret. Adjusting parameters in the PhotoScan software has allowed us to optimise the number of photographs required (usually around 250 images), and drastically reduce the time to process and generate the 3d model in the software.

So far, we’ve successfully modelled a statue of a dog, a drum kit, a whisky bottle amongst outdoors environments.

What’s the future?

Photogrammetry is already becoming a very useful tool at nymbl. We’ve used it on projects where intricate details need to be captured, as well as a quick and easy method to produce 3d models for use in motion capture and VR projects. Our aim is to recreate Park Street in Bristol as a high resolution mesh!