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Interview with Infinite-Realities


By Richard Tilbury

Web: http://www.ir-ltd.net (will open in new window)

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Date Added: 8th August 2012
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Can you first of all tell us a little about your company and the services you provide?

My company is called Infinite-Realities and was founded back in 2007. It's a 3D scanning and character creation studio based in Suffolk, UK, where I offer 3D modeling, face and full-body scanning, as well as 4D performance capture, to the visual effects and computer games industries.

In layman's terms, can you explain the process behind your technology and how it works?

The technology uses off-the-shelf hardware and software to take synchronized images from multiple positions in space, of a subject, and then uses that data to reconstruct, pixel by pixel, the surface contour and shape of the captured subject. I primarily use Agisoft Photoscan Professional Edition and a large amount of Canon cameras to achieve this.

Can you give us some examples of the benefits of this technology and the contexts in which it proves valuable?

There are a myriad of benefits. In a split second, this system can capture any kind of dynamic pose. IR used the system last year with Nike to capture the fastest woman on the planet, Carmelita Jeter... and damn is she fast!

Previous generation white light or laser-based scanners could take anywhere from 3 - 17 seconds to scan a full sweep of a body in separate sections, thus rendering dynamic poses impossible to capture. IR's system also captures around 1.27

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gigapixels of color data from 360 degrees, something the other systems cannot do, as well as being a volumetric-based reconstruction method, which means it's a single shot capture process. There's no need for aligning mesh slices, splicing or fusing, nor are there any calibration issues or distortions. It's quite a renaissance for 3D scanning.

This system is ideal for visual effects and computer game content creation for quick digital double replacement, as well as having many uses for the medical, fashion, TV, military, police, music and other industries.

What motivated you to develop this technology?

My motivation was simulating virtual humans with the end goal to move into robotics. I'm obsessed. I dreamt of being able to use "laser" scanning technology back in my early 20's, but I could never have afforded the laser scanning or white light system at the time - they varied from £75,000-£250,000!

I started out as an FMV and environment artist when I was younger, and then changed to character work in my mid 20's. I got tired of using Google reference images or 2D human reference data to try and replicate the human form. No matter how good an artist is at anatomy - and there are some incredibly talented ones out there (I am not one of them!) - I honestly think you can't beat the real thing. So I investigated some more. I tried various solutions over the years, and as hardware and software costs came down and newer, more innovative, solutions appeared on the market, I saw a gap to try and leverage a better scanning solution to offer products and services related to the medium.

Do you feel as though replicating humans perfectly may remove the artistic process entirely and do you believe that robotics is the logical conclusion of this pursuit?

Maybe in 10 or 15 years. I think databases will be built eventually, storing the various forms and shapes of the human body, as well as specifically for faces, leading to cataloguing and sampling of various races, ages and body types, and the introduction of AI and processing of these databases. I would imagine digital splicing could become commonplace, and random seed generation of virtual humans. Much like most role-playing, or MMO computer games do now, but based on real life, realistic-looking data.

The next step is 4D motion capture of body movement and the analysis of that data, which can be used to train and drive body rigs. I think robotics will be one logical progression from these types of systems, as understanding movement will be invaluable to that part of the industry and our evolution. What better way to understand the human form than to analyze and study captured scan data at high resolutions and frame rates? It's comparable to Muybridge, but using 21st century technology.

This capture system was born out of an artistic approach; it is an art form in itself, more than a science. At the moment the data and processing still requires a fair amount of manual intervention to control it, convert the data and edit it into usable material, which requires a certain degree of artistic and anatomical understanding. Over time however, I think this will fade.

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
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(ID: 157005, pid: 0) Hal Jaffe on Fri, 19 October 2012 7:25pm
What would be the least amount of cameras to scan a "bust" of a person, approx from the mid chest up, if the subject can stay still and is turned. I know that is not what your capture is all about but funds are so tight and I am not able to come up with money for as many cameras as you use for a singe shot synchronized image. What size lens? Any info is appreciated.
Hal Jaffe haljaffe@aol.com
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