We’ve been experimenting with 3D image scanning (photogrammetry) in our motion capture suite. This technique is widely used in many industries – architecture, topographic mapping, cultural heritage and games, to name a few. It enables artists to create detailed 3D models of an object or environment from a series of photographs. This helps improve accuracy and speeds up workflow of creating detailed meshes.
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, where you take photographs of the physical object to then convert into 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 accurately. optimisation, research and development (R&D) in between.
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. We used our green screen and lighting setup to produce soft and evenly lit objects. Creating an alpha channel provides better results, which we achieved with preparing a backdrop that can be easily keyed. We designed a turntable setup with a pulley system to keep the camera still on a tripod, whilst rotating the object. This system provided more stable and consistent images for the software to interpret. Adjusting parameters in the software enabled us to optimise the number of photographs required (usually around 250 images), and significantly reduce the time to process and generate the 3d model in the software.
What does the future look like?
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 creating virtual reality experiences. Our aim is to recreate Park Street in Bristol, UK as a high resolution mesh!