Monday, January 23, 2017

2016: It was a Very VR Year

2016 was marked by the emergence of virtual reality to consumers with the launch of Oculus Rift, Vive and PlayStation VR. Technology now offers us passage deep into a first person experience.  Stanley Kubrick once famously said, “If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed”. This is the modern state of storytelling and gaming, the age where complete 3D worlds are created. At last, we, the viewers, are able to virtually step right into a storyline and take a look around.

According to Oculus Story Studio, early attempts at VR felt empty and strangely fake. VR storytellers strive to populate their 3D worlds with spatial story density. Spatial story density includes all of the visual details that make the worlds more real and more believable; the atmosphere, the environment, the 3D characters and everything visible through the VR headset.

Additional technologies, like synesthesia suits (developed for the game Rez infinite), offer more encompassing experiences through twenty-four sensory vibrotactile actuators. Music, sounds, and sensations are felt through the suit, and early users said that the experience was otherworldly and beyond words.

From a 3D scanning perspective, this is an exciting time. The demand for quality 3D digital assets and digital doubles from high-density 3D scans is rich in 2017. As VR expands, we look forward to the part that we will play as storytelling and gaming environments continue to evolve.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Set a High Bar for Digital Characters

If a digital character is not 3D rendered and animated quite right it can be said to be in the “uncanny valley”, a term coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori. A character is in the uncanny valley if it is not quite photo-realistic, causing humans to react with a sense of unease and eeriness. Therefore, the bar must be set very high during development to create believable digital doubles.

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Today, using state of the art 3D scanning methods, we stay out of the uncanny valley by building dense data clouds that capture every subtle nuance of the scanned character, making them a reliable stand-in. Cyber-characters are showing up in every media channel now, and the internet is a hungry player. With the growth of virtual reality, we will likely become even more accustomed to watching entire stories featuring cyber-characters, a la Rogue One.

.At TNG Visual Effects we use Artec structured light 3D scanning technology coupled with Photogrammetry to build highly realistic digital human heads and bodies. The scanned bodies and heads can be used and reused with subtle tweaks, so ultimately they can prove to be a cost-effective digital asset for your digital library. Furthermore, once the 3D models are built they can take multiple rounds of punishing action that will continue to extend your storytelling without driving up a hospital bill. And, if you set the bar high they will step into your story and do it seamlessly.