Sometime ago I wrote about a technique the animation industry and the game industry often use to eliminate a bulk of the back-breaking work of 3D modeling. Instead of building models from scratch using software, they build actual models out of clay or other materials and scan these physical models using a setup called 3D scanner. The 3D scanner then constructs a digital, three dimensional model of the real object which can be used in games, movies or any other application. You can even create your own cheap 3D scanner at home using free software.
Building models out of clay is definitely easier than building models in software. Recently I stumbled upon an even easier and amazing method to create models –using still images or videos. Actually there are two software that employ this method.
insight3d is an open source and free software that lets you create 3D models from a series of photographs. You give it a series of photos of a real scene or object from different angles and it automatically calculates the positions in space from which each photo has been taken (plus camera’s optical parameters) along with a 3D point-cloud of the scene. It then creates a 3D mesh polygonal model of the software which you can import into any 3D modeling software and finish the rest of the job.
Here is one example.
The software is available for Windows and a Linux version is in the works.
The second software is the most astonishing one. The software called VideoTrace is capable of creating digital 3D models from actual videos of the model. The modeler simply traces the outline of the models over the video frames and the software magically extracts whatever the user traced, out from the video, complete with the exact graphics. It’s mind blowing! Watch the video.
VideoTrace’s application is going to be endless from architectural engineering to games and movies. VideoTrace is still in beta stages and not available for public download. The website also doesn’t indicate whether this software will be released as a freeware or as commercial.