Imagine a career innovating 3D technololgy for movies

Get 3D-ified when art mashes with technology

Have you ever thought about a career that combines photography with 3D technology?  Ottawa’s XYZ RGB designed a world-leading 3D full-body scanning technique that creates virtual stunt doubles and props for both animated and full-action films.  They’ve worked on movies like 300, Lord of the Rings, District 9, Silent Hill, Batman Returns and Matrix Reloaded, to name a few.

Careers in 3D engineering can be hard to find, but CEO Helmut Kungl says there are options out there if you look for them. 3D scanning is taking off in fashion, security and health care, for example.

With XYZ RGB’s Scanner Killer, you too can convert people and objects into 3D images.  The program is available for download, though be warned it will run you about $14 per 3D image.

How it works

I met Helmut Kungl at a tech conference in May 2011 where he introduced me to the world of 3D body scanning for film.  The portable technology consists of a series of cameras, typically around 24, that simultaneously capture every tiny detail of an object or a person’s body.  The images are combined and converted digitally via a software program to 3D in grayscale. Skin, hair and colours are added on top of the scans later. Finer details are added in post-production.  

This promo video shows what 3D scanning images look like.

Scaling it down

XYZ RGB set up two cameras at the conference to offer a taste of what the technology can do.  Helmut snapped two photos of my face simultaneously and after a brief rendering moment my 2D image was converted into 3D bliss.  I was surprised how a standard photo could capture even my side features.  Check it out:

Sheena gets 3D-ified

Do it yourself has full details on how to become a 3D master. A basic understanding of photography and computers is recommended, but not required. In order for 3D technology to work, any two identical cameras (including cell phones!) must be manually set up exactly the same. You must use a checkered calibration target available for free download from the site. This creates what is called a ‘stereo pair.’

There are four steps involved:

  1. Calibrate your cameras
  2. Photograph your subject
  3. Upload the files
  4. Extract your 3D images

For more information check out the web sites, play with the technology, and try to figure out who’s really fighting TRON.  Virtual stunt doubles are almost impossible to distinguish from live actors. I can imagine it will only become harder to tell as the technology advances. Check out Helmut's profile on CareerMash too.

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