About a year ago, a commercial editing firm called Eye Candy, based in Washington DC, visited Direct Dimensions with an exciting 3D application. Eye Candy has produced commercial advertising pieces for many major consumer products companies and has also done work for PBS, ESPN, The Discovery Channel, and other major networks. Eye Candy’s new project was the production of a 60-second TV commercial for the Arena Football League or AFL.
The creative team at Eye Candy wanted to use live actors for the action shots in the commercial, but the major expense and schedule requirements of live filming made this unfeasible. So they decided to utilize 3D animation instead. Though they had several graphic animators on staff, they needed a way to create accurate 3D models of football players and various uniform, gear, and accessories such as helmets, gloves, pads relatively quickly and inexpensively. Their staff animators would then use these 3D digital models to make the commercial.
Upon visiting Direct Dimensions and learning about our extensive 3D scanning and digital modeling capabilities, Eye Candy engaged DDI to perform this work. With nearly 15 years of experience in 3D data collection and imaging and a wide array of 3D technologies employed in-house, Direct Dimensions was the perfect fit to create the various 3D models needed for Eye Candy’s animations. In particular, DDI was using a new face scanning technology that allowed for very fast and stunningly life-like 3D facial models.
Representatives of Eye Candy brought various pieces of the football gear & equipment as well as a stand-in actor to the Direct Dimensions facility in Owings Mills, MD for the scanning. While some of the football gear was scanned separately using more conventional tools, the actor was the main focus of the day’s scanning and utilized special full body and face capture technology. A special rig was devised to hold the actor’s pose while special scanners captured his exact shape.
Following this process, another new technology that uses digital cameras captured his exact facial contours and expressions. Direct Dimensions engineer Dominic Albanese used the new Dimensional Imaging 3D (DI3D) imaging cameras to capture the actors face and head. Rather than utilizing lasers, the DI3D works by triangulating the high resolution images shot from paired standard digital cameras to instantaneously capture 3D surface images including high resolution textures. This technology is known as “passive stereo photogrammetry” and allows for a person’s exact 3D image to be captured in less than a second. It is essentially as simple as taking a snapshot, but we call it a ShapeShot™.
Over the next week, the DDI team used Innovmetric’s PolyWorks Modeler and Rapidform XOR software, as well as several other softwares to process the raw data into accurate 3D digital representations of the football player actor with his full uniform and gear. Texture maps (files used to add lighting parameters and color to a 3D model) were created using 3D Studio Max and ZBrush. Ultimately all of the separate models, the body, football gear and actor’s face, were all brought together in 3D Studio to create one complete, fully textured 3D model for use in Eye Candy’s animation.