If efficiency and flexibility are top of your wish list for 2018, ‘shooting’ talent using cutting-edge 3D scanning techniques could be the solution
The creative director on the future of 3D scanning
i t’s the 21st century, technology is more advanced than ever before and 3D scanning promises to be a hot trend moving forwards through 2018. nowadays, it’s possible to scan almost anything and create a perfect digital copy – from the smallest of props to live horses. But what are the benefits of doing so?
in the visual effects industry, this solution offers ultimate flexibility and the ability to store reusable elements for future projects. Assets can be pulled from one shot, then reused in any still or animation across multiple platforms, which can come in handy for promotional campaigns.
3D scanning can be particularly useful when creating digital doubles, or a ‘virtual talent’, as we call it. A totally unique human being.
in the past, we’ve created a lot of fully-cg virtual backgrounds and matte paintings at Saddington Baynes. However, it can be incredibly difficult to replicate lighting or balance shadows with live action photography; you may even be stuck with a particularly unworkable camera angle. More and more resources are being diverted into finding new ways to fuse live action and CGI together.
Recently, we’ve found that by scanning a talent with neutral lighting, it’s far easier to adjust the scene later in 3D. Artists can achieve a more integrated result.
Using ‘virtual talent’ will enable an artist to experiment with camera angles, relight a scene or even repurpose assets for another shot. need to change or add extra shots? The talent is there to break out and use in any scene, saving production costs and giving our clients more flexibility to realise their creative vision.
At Saddington Baynes, we’ve been primarily using 3D scans to capture frozen moments in time, reminiscent of iconic Fight Club or Deadpool scenes. A scene is frozen, but the camera still moves – angles can develop and change. We’ve created several animations for Honda, in which simple actions like holding a door open or walking towards a car, are made far more visually powerful. So how does it work?
When talking about people or talent, you have to invest in a fixed, custom-built array of cameras. Based on a technique called photogrammetry, 3D scanning takes a large number of shots from different angles. We use 100-150 DSLR cameras in partnership with FBFX, with each shot taken simultaneously. instant capture is another key advantage here, especially when tackling action-heavy sequences or taking a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach to storytelling. project Statue is the perfect example – an R&D experiment designed by Saddington Baynes to test 3D scanning capability. one actor leaps into the air while another swings his leg up in a high Muay Thai kick. High-intensity movements such as this are notoriously difficult to create. But with 3D scanning, not only can a performance be captured instantly and realistically, but it can be adjusted with visual effects as the artist sees fit.
After the shoot, software is able to figure out where those points exist in 3D space in order to create a corresponding surface, resulting in a grey model. photography is projected onto that model and it can be effectively wrapped up with an image. Further work then needs to be done in terms of digital sculpting and textures – for cloth or skin – perfecting a true-to-life digital copy.
3D scans and the resulting virtual talent has proved worthwhile in many situations, in everything from costume design to background characters. project Statue is our most complex use of 3D scanning to date, using advanced procedural displacement techniques, complex shaders and dynamic particle simulations to deliver a fierce fighting showcase. The results have become prolific across the digital arts community, achieving platinum in the international Media & interactive Design Awards, as well as Best CGI in the Le Book Creativity Awards. new avenues for 3D scanning open up every day, not to mention the countless other technological advancements we see debut every year, often at events like SIGGRAPH and FMX. The Saddington Baynes team is currently in the middle of a project combining 3D scans and motion capture to create truly photorealistic human faces. it’s an exciting time to be part of the creative community – and an even more exciting time to work in visual effects.
Andrew white Creative director at Saddington Baynes saddingtonbaynes.com