Posted on June 2, 2020 at 12:00 PM by Chuck Fox

Illustration of a classic motion capture camera and article title

3D Scanning: The Future is Now

You may not know it but if you’re a fan of movies, episodic television programming, and even video games, you’re seeing content that has been created and enhanced with a variety of advanced high-tech tools including 3D laser scanning. In fact, laser scanning is a valuable tool for rapidly capturing real-world objects and living things.

3D scanning offers a non-invasive way to trace in three-dimensions existing objects, people, animals, vehicles, environments or structures and replicate them as photorealistic 3D computer-generated models. 3D computer models are used to support visual effects work in entertainment productions that demand eye-popping photorealism. Audiences around the world crave the alternate reality that the Hollywood visual effects gurus bring to the silver screen and to the screen in your home.

Combining Tech to Create "Reality on Rails": Drones & Still Reference Photos

For example, in HBO’s Deadwood: The Movie, a real-life (“practical”) train was used to portray the 1880s era train featured in the action. The film’s visual effects supervisor, Eric Hayden from FuseFX, told VFX Voice Magazine more: “Thousands of still reference photos were taken of the practical train and cars. Furthermore, a drone flyover provided the data to create a photogrammetry-based model of the train as a reference model for the artists to use to finish out the model.” The resulting final footage harkens back to that time and place, with a train that looks real enough to climb aboard.

Digital Humans take 3D Scanning to Another Level

The work that the company’s Digital Humans Group produces is something that seems futuristic, but it is here now – and it is awe-inspiring. They focus on creating digital humans, creatures, and characters for feature films, live real-time events, and more.


Digital Domain Head of Software R&D Doug Roble, and for the first time, his virtual avatar DigiDoug, presented an astonishing talk and technology demo at TED2019, in April of 2019, on what it takes to create a digital human.

"DigiDoug" is a real-time, 3D, digital rendering of Roble’s likeness that's accurate down to the scale of pores and wrinkles. Powered by an inertial motion capture suit, deep neural networks, and enormous amounts of data, DigiDoug renders the real Doug's emotions (and even how his blood flows and eyelashes move) in striking detail. It’s something that must be seen to be believed.

By scanning real environments, real objects, and even real people, Hollywood boosts the art of storytelling, with photorealism previous generations would have never thought possible. The intersection between the virtual world and reality enables much of our entertainment. It turns out that this crossroads is becoming critical to our understanding of real-world events as well.

At ESi, we utilize much of this same technology to bring data to life through stunning visualizations. Our technology has been proven to help win even the most complex court cases as it makes the unseen visible! Contact one of our consultants to see how we can help your case!

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