Friday, February 3, 2017

LiDAR Scanning for the Big Jobs

Three-dimensional scanning has its challenges, some techniques more than others. LiDAR (light radar) scanning is a technology used to 3D scan larger subjects like elephants, planes, trains, automobiles, buildings, sets, and environments. LiDAR would also be used to scan natural areas like parks, woods, or a gravel pit for a scene. With this technique, we are able to quickly capture an incredible amount of data quickly and accurately.

There are some challenges we face when using LiDAR for entertainment projects. For example, cars are a popular item to scan using LiDAR. Since the surface is shiny we have to dull it down to avoid getting big areas of reflection which will not capture the scan data. Chrome and also has this effect.

Transparent surfaces like windows do not reflect back at all and require treatment with paint or applying a covering of paper or wax to show where the window is and the curvature. Another challenge with LiDAR is movement. Say that you would like to have a boat scanned with LiDAR while it is in the water. The rocking of the boat would make that scanning session difficult. A remedy would be to get the boat onto land or a barge in order to scan it. Another solution would be to tie it down tightly between two docks, in calm water.

Scanning buildings and environments in populated areas will pose certain challenges due to people moving about within the targeted scan area. In these cases, we block off the area if possible. Windows and shiny surfaces need to be accounted for again and prepared, in addition to staying safe in a live action area with moving cars, trucks, and buses.

While in active development it's easy to plan ahead for these considerations, once you know about them. In cases when we are surprised with challenges we are usually able to iron out a solution using some grit and determination, a benefit gleaned from 25 years in the 3D scanning business.