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cyber characters

cyber characters

Is Mobile 3D Scanning Important?

How mobile is mobile? Some believe being a mobile service means to drive a large truck filled with a lot of equipment. Driving from place to place and taking one or two days to set-up is not our definition of being mobile. It’s more simplistic than that.

Our definition: grab the equipment and head for the door. These days it seems there are a lot of decisions to be made at the last minute. We know it is more about acting instantly to a project than being mobile. If a project is in Maryland, Florida, Texas or Toronto, speed and mobility is of the essence.

Mobile 3D Scanning Services

Here are some things to think about when choosing a mobile service provider.

  1. Are they available to come to your set?
  2. If they need to travel by plane, is their equipment travel size or does the equipment need to be shipped prior to the scanning day? This may require additional charges to the customer.
  3. If the equipment is travel size, will they need to check their bags or can they bring them on the plane? In our experience, if a bag needs to be checked there is the risk of the bag(s) being delayed depending on the size. This may also be an additional charge to the customer.
  4. Have they communicated the amount of space they will need to get the job done?
  5. Are there any special requirements? i.e. does the room/space need to be dark or fully lit?

Mobile 3D Scanning

The best way around all of this is great planning and on-going communication. When the plans change but the time constraints don’t, look for the company that will guarantee their service no matter what comes up.

Where’s your closest TNG location?

tng vfx locations

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

Pilot Season 2015 is Upon Us

Pilot season is here again, and with as many good shows on network television as we’re used to seeing on cable. It makes us think the revival of TV is here.

Pilot Season

After a long period of reality shows and “Who’s Got Talent” (although we really love those shows), we think the quality of episodics on television that include visual effects is at an all time high – i.e. Marvel’s Avenger offshoots, the History Channel’s Vikings, and HBO bringing it home with Game of Thrones.

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This is a rich market of companies who are pushing the limits on what they can do on a weekly series. At times the entire cast and crew only have one week to learn lines, create the effects and shoot. They are competing with effects in films costing 10’s of millions of dollars and taking a year or more to shoot. Never-the-less, these wizards pull off amazing visual effects for each episode.

GOT behind-the-scenes GOT behind-the-scenes 2Game of Thrones Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Many of the series appeal to thrill-seeking consumers. With an appetite for horror, adventure and drama, loyal fans will sit through marathons on Netflix to catch up on past seasons. It is hour after hour of commercial free programs that overwhelm the senses. You know you’ve been there.

There are hundreds of Pilots on the list this Season hoping to make it to air. For all those waiting for the new season of their favorite show, get your La-Z-Boy centered. Don’t forget to break out the popcorn and grab your favorite drink. Get ready to consume more great effects and real entertainment without leaving your home. Of course if you’re watching shows like American Horror Story, you may not be doing a lot of sleeping.

american-horror-story-freakshow-a-creepy-poster-collectionLike we’ve said before, our hats go off to those high speed wizards that are mastering the effects for our home theaters. Keep up the great work!

Click here to see a real-time list of Pilots

 

Where’s your closest TNG location?

tng vfx locations

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

Building 3D Character

There are three components to creating a great life-like 3D character. The first component is making sure the character design itself looks realistic. The second component is the full body animation and seeing how it moves – whether it’s stiff, jerky, ill-timed, or even too smooth like an astronaut on the moon. In working with live action, the character needs to have fluid movement to match that of a live character. The third component is facial animation, which is nearly always the giveaway. The facial performance needs to be strong because we know what faces look like and interact with them every day. It’s easy to comprehend a person’s emotion by looking at their face, but in 3D that must be created. It’s not difficult to land in the ‘uncanny valley’ with the dead flat eyes with a thousand yard stare and lower forehead. But as a VFX community, we’re getting closer to mastering this.

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Melika as a fully rendered image in high resolution

Building a 3D character can be done in several ways. The quickest way, and which is now becoming the most acceptable method, is to use 3D scanning. The dimensions that come from a 3D scan are accurate, saving a character artist more time to develop the final look of the model. The overall structure of the body and the look of the skin all need to look like a real person. From the hair to the cyber clothing, every part needs to flow naturally. The real life character and the virtual character need to make a person wonder which is which. It shouldn’t even be a question. All elements on the screen should look real – right out of our world – and not polygons or pixels.

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When using a motion capture system to create and capture the movement of a character, the only decision to make is to find a system you feel best serves your needs and your budget. As time goes on the prices will fall as more and more characters are done this way. There are systems on the market if all you need is a simple walk or run, however, in most cases there is a need for custom movement that will go through current pipelines using a standard like Autodesk MotionBuilder. This industry has had some vast improvements over the last years, especially with movies like Avatar and The Lord of the Rings. It was a combination of technology and talent that allowed the Mocap movements to translate so well into the final result.

The last piece is the facial performance capture. If not done correctly, the upper part of the face (dead eyes or a low forehead) could give it all away. It takes time and talent to get this right, not to mention the cost. Now that we’re offering full body motion capture systems and services, our next stop on the road will be facial performance capture. Naturally all this technology blends together to create 3D effects that look entirely real.

Good luck in 2015 to all of you on your search for the best and most cost effective service that meets your delivery times, and gives you the product you need.

Where’s your closest TNG location?

tng vfx locations

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

The Process Behind 3D Scanning & Processing Data

There are clear cut differences between 3D scanning a human character and a hard surface object. When 3D scanning an object, you will receive precise and accurate measurements because an object does not move. A person, however, cannot remain entirely motionless which results in creating an alternate way of 3D scanning a human to locally obtain tight alignments that provide good measurements. Larger objects require larger 3D scanners or at least larger 3D volume boxes, which are calibrated for their size, and thus a smaller 3D volume box has less chance for incongruities.

3d scanned sunglasses

To begin with the process of 3D scanning an object, reference pictures are first taken which aid the 3D modeler, 3D texture artist, and during final QC (Quality Check) to make sure the 3D object matches the real life counterpart. After the object is 3D scanned (sometimes multiple scans are needed), the scan data is aligned and fused together. A good alignment requires some pre-requisite factors such as having overlapping data and choosing intelligent places to start and stop scans as well as the angle of the scanner at the time of the scanning. Once the 3D scan technician acknowledges they have as close to 100% coverage as feasibly possible, the scan is complete and can be processed.

3d scanning before & after

Processing the data can take a longer or shorter time depending on the resolution needed. The higher the resolution you work with in 3D, the slower the process. It’s much easier to work with 5,000 to 500,000 polygons versus 5 million to 50 million polygons. In fact, when working at such high resolutions, decimation (or multiple) must take place (and at the right time within the process). Once the scan data is processed and decimation has been executed, the 3D modeler can begin their work. With the use of the images captured from the professional photo shoot, along with a perfect silhouette and scale of the item provided by the 3D scan, the modeler will 3D model out the many components and unwrap the geo for the 3D texture artist.

lidar scanned vehicle, 3d scanning

The texture artist then paints the object (or projects images) as well as paint seams of where the UV coordinates were cut. The completed texture is given back to the 3D modeler who will bring out further detail through sculpting. As the model is finished off, the normal maps and displacement maps are generated. These maps provide multiple ways for the 3D model to be viewed; taxing the render engine less and proving a higher quality result.

 

Where’s your closest TNG location?

tng vfx locations

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

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.

 

Where’s your closest TNG location?

tng vfx locations

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