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Compositing 3D objects into photographs

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Date Added: 13th August 2014
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Professional arch-viz artist, Indre Kuzminiene, shows how to use 3ds Max and Photoshop to create a 3D object for integrating into a 2D scene...


We are often faced with the task of integrating a 3D object into a photograph. This technique is very often used in architectural visualization for analysis of how a new object is going to blend into the existing environment. It can also be used in video montage when we integrate a 3D object into a real scene that was captured using a static camera (a different technique is used for moving camera though).

For this tutorial we will use 3ds Max and Google Satellite views to create a 3D object and integrate it into a scene.

Detailed analysis of photographs is required to analyze and implement a camera positioning method. There are 2 methods in the 2014 version of 3ds Max.

1. Camera match (existed in previous versions of 3ds Max): This method is more suitable when it is difficult to identify 3 pairs of perpendicular lines corresponding to the XYZ axes and we can at least partially reconstruct the existing situation.

2. Perspective match (new method introduced in 3ds Max 2014). This is more suited to interiors and freestanding buildings when it is easy to distinguish perpendiculars corresponding to the co-ordinate axes.

In this tutorial we are going to explain how to match the camera in photomontage using method 1.

An example of analyzing an interior scene to determine and co-ordinate the axes

Locate the photo-image

If the task is to place the object into a photo of existing landscape satellite imagery, such as Google Maps or Google Earth (higher resolutions), then it is very easy to locate and place existing objects.

Finding an image to place our object in

Scale the image

Satellite images need to be scaled to match the size of the 3D scene. Refer to existing markers and height points
in the scene.

Scaling the photo-image to match the object's scale

Place the CamPoints

Locate the CamPoints on existing objects that are best visible on the satellite image and photograph. The accuracy of the result will depend on the amount of camera points chosen. It is recommended to choose CamPoints on different height levels, too.

Locating the CamPoints on the 2D image/3D image

continued on next page >

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Ethan Janssens on Thu, 14 August 2014 9:55am
Thank you for taking the time to write this tutorial. We have a few questions regarding matching the photocamera lens into a 3D Digital Camera inside 3D Studio Max: When we check our photographs taken with a Nikon in Bridge we see following numbers (for example): Focal Length: 18.0mm Focal Length in 35mm film: 27.0mm As we understand we need to imput the 27.0 mm in the lens angle in the 3D Studio Max camera since max works with "36mm aperture" - (see common settings) We're never heard of this "sensor" sizes. Could you please share a source link of some sort where we can check if these values are correct? This means we not only need to take the 35mm-matching angle, but ALSO multiply that number by the sensor cropping number in order to have the true camera-angle for the 3D Studio Max camera? Regards, Ethan
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