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TNG Visual Effects - 3D Scanning Services

The Truth About 3D Scanning Systems

There has been a lot of talk recently about the new 3d scanners and their capability, but what does it take to actually operate one? And, most importantly, do they really save on time and cost?

3d scanned full body and head

These scanners provide a basic starting point at a lower quality of detail, and at times are more work for a modeler. It is just one step up from sculpting your entire model, and does not include precision detail. Not to mention, it takes experienced scanning technicians to operate these systems. Believe me, if they could easily and automatically create what was needed, we would have 10 of them around the world.

We are constantly shopping for better systems out in the market to get faster, higher quality results, and at a lower cost, but everything seems to be a trade off. So we find what works, and what works well for our projects to give our clients the best value for their money.

3d scanned head

Another item to think about is the color capability of a 3d scanner, which is typically low resolution and not usable. When we are on a job, we have a professional photo shoot allowing us to deliver high resolution texture maps of up to 8k x 8k to our clients. It is a process of setting up and delivering the content needed by production, or the game company looking for photorealistic models for their cinematic’s or trailers.


I have no doubt that in the future technology capability will increase for the end user, and thus putting scanning capability in everyone’s hands. Until then, evaluate what you need and either decide to buy a professional grade 3D Scanner, or call your local 3D Scanning Service to have your work done with great, reliable systems that you can count on for today’s projects.

Where is your closest location?

tng vfx locations

We welcome your feedback! Comment on our blog or visit our Facebook page.



Navigating the World of 3D Scanning

You almost need a road map to navigate through the 3D scanning world, that is if you use 3D scanned models. There are so many choices and so little time, and even less budget. The shrinking budgets and growing needs of production, the “more for less” syndrome, have affected all of us, and multiplied by the need for faster turnaround times, more ploy’s, deeper bit depth and more maps (texture, ambient, secular, normal, displacement, occlusion, dirt, etc.), can feel demanding. However, this is our industry today, so it is either get on board or move over.

dynamic cloth test

To help make the 3d scanning process more of a breeze, we put together a few tips that hopefully provide a more efficient and cost effective experience during your next project.

Tip # 1 – Know what you want from the start. This may seem simple, but often difficult as the show unfolds and needs changes. However, you are in a powerful position if you know what the needs are ahead of time and can focus on that. Abstracts are confusing and slows down a bidding process.

Tip # 2 – Be specific and detailed when explaining what or who is being scanned. To make sure the 3d scanning crew captures what you need, give full details ahead of time about what they will be scanning, and what you expect the final product to look like. For example, you may want the 3d model to be wearing a jacket, but want it open. Make sure to communicate that detail to the crew to eliminate having to rescan or remodel parts of the jacket.

Tip # 3 – Let the 3d scanning crew know how much time they have to scan and deliver the product. There are certain clothing items that take more time to scan and replicate, such as lacy items, transparent material, a high gloss leather jacket or anything black and shiny. All of these items will slow down the process, so it is important for the team to know if the director needs the items back on site right away, or if a stand in cloth can be used.

Tip # 4 – Find out what part of replicating the character you can do in house. To possibly save on time and cost, find out what your team has time to do. Perhaps you have an awesome texturing department that may want to take cleaned up scans that are remodeled and UV’d to texture them. Normally this is done by the scanning crew, but it could be done in house if you have texture people available, or even modelers to take it from a raw format.

expressions, 3d head scan

Our goal through these monthly columns is to take what we see in the field and provide you with information that can save you time and money, and to help you see your characters as you have envisioned them.

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tng vfx locations

We welcome your feedback! Comment on our blog or visit our Facebook page.

3D Scanning for Music Videos

We scanned Whitney Steele for her music video: Be Silent, Be Still. Click on the link to watch the clip.

Full Body Scan with Prop


Where is your closest location?

tng vfx locations

We welcome your feedback! Comment on our blog or visit our Facebook page.

3D Scanning Without Borders

From time to time a 3D scanning project is requested in another country and requires traveling with the scanning equipment. Crossing borders can raise issues if customs holds packages for clearance, and can alter a well planned 3D scanning session. One option is to send the equipment ahead of time but if the schedule changes, it puts everyone in an awkward (and expensive) situation. If the talent needs to leave the site, or will not be available again, the best case is to be as flexible as possible.

raw to ready to rig

Raw to Ready to Rig

If you  have decided to have a scanning company travel to a location of your choice, here are some questions to ask:

  1. How much room will they need?
  2. Will they need the environment lightened or darkened?
  3. What kind of power requirements do they have?
  4. What additional costs will they incur?
  5. Are there additional costs for multiple scans of the same person?
  6. What is their plan for scanning/creating hair?

Staying on top of the details will help eliminate last-minute hassles when your scanning team arrives.

full body scan

Full body scan in minutes

There has been an increase in production requiring a separate photo shoot to produce high-end texture maps along with the 3D scanning. This provides a more comprehensive solution from one company to save on costs, space, and coordination. Find out if your scanning company has this capability. If one of your vendors is setting up a photo shoot, see if they intend to share their photos. You certainly do not need more than one group taking the photos.

Begin with the end in mind. To ensure your scanning project is complete, have your 3D scanning company provide a contact sheet with a naming convention you both agree on.  The next step is to decide how quickly you need the models, and at which resolution they will be delivered. Coordinating these details with your 3D scanning company prior to wrapping production assists your 3D scanning company in delivering a satisfactory product your other vendors can work with.

3d scan, full body, car and building, lidar scan

When choosing a 3D scanning company, you always have a choice. You can use a company you are familiar with, or try a new, although it is not recommended to use a company that does not have experience being on production. This inexperience leads to an unpredictable outcome. Look for a service that can travel light and quickly, and will give you the option of capturing your data at their studio or at the location of your project.

Whether you need 3D scanning in the US or internationally, 3D scanners without borders are a great choice.

Where is your closest location?

tng vfx locations

We welcome your feedback! Comment on our blog or visit our Facebook page.

Time Is Money, I Need It Now!

As with most things, there are a number of ways to get what you want. In our business, our clients want great looking 3D characters that are exact replica’s of the original person – what we call a Digital Double. But, if a 3D scan is needed right away, or very soon due to an upcoming delivery date, there is often a choice to be made: Quality – Price – Speed…pick two.

full body 3d scans

This is a dilemma brought on by budget, time and quality. When the pressure is on, who are you going to call? Everyone you can find, I am sure. You will start with 3D scanning companies you have worked with in the past, and if you have no luck, move onto referred contacts. Another option is to do a Google search in your area, there could be a 3D scanning company around the corner.

3d head scan low resolution to film resolution

The next challenge is to audit the candidates and review proposals. During the proposal stage, my experience would suggest to look over their recent work and to compare prices, deliveries and availability. The focus should be on time and budget, and less on the choice of lasers (structured or photo). The best qualifiers are their current portfolio and past customers.

lidar scan dodge charger

This is a fast moving business on all sides of visual effects. Some people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. They want to know what your commitment is to giving the model your best work for the amount of time and investment spent. We on the other hand are focused on this market and will provide fast service at a good price, and with the quality you will come back for even when you have time to shop.

3d scan full body, lidar, large vehicle and building

I hope this helps with your decision the next time you need a 3D model scanned the right way, and fast. You can have it your way.


Where is your closest location?

tng vfx locations

We welcome your feedback! Comment on our blog or visit our Facebook page.