3D Scanning the Masses

Throughout the past decade we have provided 3D scanning services for a variety of projects, ranging from films such as “Snakes on a Plane” and “Life of Pi” to video games like “Grand Theft Auto” or the “Mass Effect” and “Tomb Raider” series. A decade ago, the majority of our work was for film and television, scanning anyone from the lead actor to the ones not making it to the end of the film. The latter get either blown away (“2012”), frozen, burned or liquified (“Heroes”) or sucked into an airplane engine (“The Losers”)! However, during the last several years we have seen a major shift in the video game industry. Having more powerful consoles like the latest Xbox and Playstation has enabled developers to use more realistic characters in their games. No longer are we seeing pixelated clones but rather unique individuals based on reallife actors. This is true not only for their visual representation (by 3d scanning) but also their movements (motion capture) and speech (facial performance capture).

With video game projects we now scan much more people than just the leading roles. This goes from just a few (“Dragon Age”, “Mass Effect”) to a few dozen (“Hitman”, “Kane & Lynch”) to hundreds (“Grand Theft Auto”) and even thousands (“MLB: The Show”)! Because of the magnitude of some of these we have come up with a very streamlined process which benefits both us and especially our clients.

Casting Services

Many big budget video games require a vast amount of actors or extras (think of open world games such as
“Grand Theft Auto”). Because we are located in Los Angeles where there’s an abundance of talent we decided to start offering casting services in addition to 3D scanning. Clients send us their specifications and we will supply them with several options for each character, no matter how large the project. This makes us a one-stop shop, removing this very time-consuming task from our clients’ workload and thus saving them time and money.

In 2014 alone we cast hundreds of people for several large scale projects for clients located in the United States, but also Europe, with several projects already lined up for 2015.

Hair and Make-Up

During 3D scanning sessions, which often last many days or even weeks, we can provide a hair and make-up crew. This assures that we capture each person with an optimal look, meaning all their hair is properly combed or tucked away from the face, ears and neck, giving us the best possible coverage and thus reducing cleanup time. In the past we used wigcaps or hairnets to achieve this but it made the color information less useful.

Different clients have different requirements regarding make-up. In most cases we ask the talent not to wear any and we change it to whatever is required. The best results are achieved when no to very little makeup is used, especially around the eyes and eyelashes. In some cases we shoot the talent both with and without makeup.

Cleanup and Retopology

We use a structured light system which captures both the shape and high resolution color information. Having the color available in the initial cleanup process is extremely helpful. It allows for small but accurate modifications in crucial areas such as the eyes and ears, where most cleanup is usually required. Capturing both 3D shape and color simultaneously also reduces capture time by eliminating the need for a secondary photo shoot.

Once all the noise is removed and any occluded areas have been reconstructed we can start the retopology process. The majority of our clients already have a base mesh ready which they like us to morph to all the 3D scans. This mesh typically has its texture coordinates set up and has a specific point order. Maintaining its integrity allows for the 3d models to be imported directly into the game engine without having to be re-rigged or otherwise modified. Maintaining point order also allows for any blending between the different heads in orderĀ to create new and unique looks. Additionally, because the texture coordinates remain unchanged, colorĀ information can be shared between 3d models as well.

Final Word

In a market where technology constantly improves and 3D scanning services become more available and widespread, we continuously explore new ways to make the process more efficient towards our clients, whether they are a visual effects studio or a video game developer. We believe that by being the one-stop shop we offer the greatest benefits to our clients who will have more time and resources to put into their projects.

If you have a project coming up and you are interested in our services, be sure to ask for a quote. If you are looking to get some more information regarding our services, be sure to send us an email. We’re looking forward to working with you!

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