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TNG Visual Effects - 3D Scanning Services

Mark Kolpack Talks Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Working in VFX

As a VFX Supervisor working in television, it often requires the ability to think very quickly due to lack of time and much smaller budgets while still delivering feature level work for television.  On my current show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I’m now producing Visual Effects that have to compliment and hold up to its counter part and big brother, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.   That is a tall order when it comes to television, but one that I love since it challenges me to create visuals that push the art and technology farther than previously thought possible.

Agents of Shield 2
The work that we produce is complex in nature and is always evolving.  It ranges from environmental augmentation using matte paintings to digital doubles for our cast members and guest actors to fluid and FX based simulations, as well as our 1964 Corvette named Lola, the C-17 Bus, Quinjet, Deathlok, Nano Copters, and a whole host of one-off based assets.

Agents of SHIELD_Lola
One of the our commonly used techniques is our Digital Doubles.  I began using them back in 2006 on Heroes at a time when this type of asset was limited to feature films. Back then almost everyone thought I was either crazy for trying it or it was just not possible, but that did not stop me.  Well it did work and the relationship that began with Nick Tesi and his team back then is still going strong today.

heroes
TNG is my main vendor for my actor scans and they too improve their techniques to help their clients to produce better and more realistic doubles that will hold up to close scrutiny.  TNG understands my schedule and tight turnarounds and gets my cleaned up geo and the textures ready within a few days of actors being scanned.  This is huge to me considering the additional work that then has to go into the models once I get them over to my VFX house. Having this type of partnership is vital for me and TNG pulls it off time and time again.

 

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Capturing Space Shuttle Endeavour

In September of 2012, the space shuttle Endeavour left Kennedy Space Center in Florida and began a 3 day journey on top of a 747 into LAX (the Los Angeles International Airport) to be displayed at the California Science Center. It was a fantastic affair and left many of the city’s inhabitants with a memorable and lasting impression.

endeavor flying in hollywood

The Endeavour exhibit has been on public display for the last two years and has been an inspirational and educational experience for many viewers. The Endeavour will be displayed in a vertical position to symbolize its flight into space. It was in operation for nearly two decades.

space shuttle endeavour

Magnopus along with TNG Visual Effects were given the rare opportunity to board the space shuttle and capture the inside before it was sealed off permanently. We gathered as much data as possible in preparation for a variety of augmented and virtual reality experiences that will be designed to inspire future generations, and enrapture visitors from around the world. In addition to the photography and 360º videography, Nick Tesi and the team at TNG scanned the inside in great detail using LIDAR and other 3D scanners.

Nick & Sky_Endeavour

This data will provide us with total coverage within the shuttle, and nearly limitless possibilities in the final project.

Article courtesy of Ben Grossman, VFX Supervisor & CEO, Magnopus

 

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TNG is Growing

TNG opened their Canadian Corporation in Vancouver and is now opening and expanding into Toronto and Montreal. Vancouver has been referred to as “Hollywood North” since the late 1970s and is in reference to their hold on being the third largest movie production center after Los Angeles and New York, as well as being in the same time zone and having the infrastructure in place to handle production projects. The title has also been used to describe Toronto, as well as the entire Canadian film industry as a whole, and offers extremely versatile landscapes for production studios to take advantage of, attractive tax credits, and highly skilled laborers in all aspects of production.

USA and Canada

TNG is headquartered in Los Angeles, and along with their move into the major cities in Canada, they have a location in Louisiana and have been working on projects in New York. These efforts give TNG the ability to service the production industry and major hubs in North America ensuring tax credits for production houses in those areas.

 

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tng vfx locations

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What is 3D Scanning?

3D scanning is becoming a favored service by several industries such as entertainment, medical, crime scene investigation, and merchandising. It can be thought of as a type of photography in which you capture a person, object or scene in 3D, allowing for it to be rotated 360 degrees. You may also projection map photos on to whatever you have 3D scanned thus making a true to life in-color 3D replica that can be inserted and composited into any form of video or computer generated (CG) render.

Lidar Scanned Charger

To scan an environment, a type of 3D scanner is used that emits lasers for measurements and 3D reconstruction. This is called LIDAR, and will capture what is called a point cloud of 3D data. Accurate measurements of the real life scene will copy over to the 3D data, allowing for correct proportions, and to have an entire environment converted to 3D. This data can be used for many things, and will allow for use of 3D cameras, which are not under any type of real world constraints.

lidar scan of old building

It’s becoming more common for the main cast of a film or episodic to be 3D scanned for visual effects purposes, which include stunt work and digital manipulation through the use of 3d shaders and texture maps. Green screens are used to switch out the background on a set and allows a location to be anywhere, likewise a 3D scanned object can be inserted into any location.

For 3D scanning humans, white light technology has many advantages. It is safe, fast, and transportable while still capturing dense accurate data. An alternative is to use photogrammetry, in which DSLR cameras capture the data, and that data is fed through software with complex algorithms that can interpret the photos from 2D to 3D by having enough variety of angles for overage, determining X, Y, Z space.

3d scanning, lidar scanning

Regardless of the type of 3D scanning used, there will be post-processing to clean up the data and to fit the data into a quad shaped mesh over the 3D scan data. This will make the data more flexible, allowing for sculpting, UVs to be applied, and texture maps afterwards. At this point, the 3D object or person can be rigged (inserting digital joints/bones), and then animated either like a CG cartoon with plenty of squash and stretch, or like the real world characters like you and I.

Ultimately the result is of a 3D object that is a replica of their real life counterpart. It can be used in a CG scene or a real life scene by compositing it in. The viewer will be able to experience the performance, and may not even notice when the 3D effect is on screen. This art is becoming more seamless and allows for an array of creative choices that at one time wasn’t even possible.

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