I bought the Kinect v2 sensor. And it has been a bit of a let down but probably not for the reasons you might think. Well, there are two main reasons; (1)one is that vendors have been confounded by it and slow to support it and (2)two because it still has the same lame color resolution. While I have no answers on how to speed up vendors to support it sooner, I have been able to attack the problem of getting higher resolution color images for my Kinect scans. And that is what I'd like to share with you.
My first brush with the idea of affixing higher quality color imagery to Kinect scans came when I had the good fortune of connecting with the engineers over at Lynx labs. They were just a Kickstarter yet to be at the time and we talked at length about my fanaticism for depth mapping (and my many failed attempts at scanning for film-making) and their plans for give a Prime Sense sensor great software powers and making it an all-in-one appliance type solution.
As their development progressed we discussed desired features quite a bit. As a film maker my demands can be summarized as needing great (and sophisticated) color/texture resolution and detail and needing a little bit of depth. Where as an engineering heavy group might need super accuracy in their 3D information and not need color at all. Lynx Labs deployed a Raster Alignment feature in the software system of their A-cam and it was simply brilliant. It was based loosely on a similar Raster Alignment tool (which I have had very little success with) that was available in Meshlab. The results of applying high fidelity imagery to a mid-quality 3D scan was fantastic. So how do I go about reproducing this result with my Kinect scans?
Gather Photo Reference Under Ideal Lighting
An overcast day is great but selecting an object in shadow is equally valuable. The reason is that we are trying to capture a subject in ambient lighting so that we get a clean diffuse texture (without lighting perspective) that can be synthetically re-lit once it is on a 3D model.
I began this post wanting to share something about the amazing technologies that are surfacing for 3D character development. As technologies are always changing it is likely that this post may quickly age or also that I've missed a recently available or coming soon technology. Please don't hesitate to comment and let me know of such new tech. Some of this is not exactly new but may have recently come of age. The intent is to share the barriers being broken and to consider what an advanced 3D character development pipeline should look like and which technologies it should include.
You can't help but love the detail and image map quality that you get from a tricked out Photo Scan. And although it would be rather expensive to assemble one... I would love to have a Photo Scanning stage and the Pro Version of Agisoft PhotoScan (like the example below of James' rig at ten24). Oh and while I'm asking I'd like his experience as well.
Be sure and watch the awesome piece that the scans were used on!
I've been there, you've been there or you will eventually if you are working in filming or videography at all. A client wants to shoot interviews, testimonials or talking heads by any other name. Only one little restriction, the subjects will only be available for a specific time at a hotel. Hotels are beautiful, right? This should look good with the right lighting. But wait, we have a specific hotel conference room reserved so we can shoot. Ugh... have you ever actually noticed how blah a hotel room is? I mean it's fine if it is just a wall, but it just isn't anywhere near as attractive as shooting in an all glass office on the 23 floor of downtown. There really is only so much you can do with lighting (trust me I've tried). So how does the shooter take his work to the next level when placed in such limited constraints? I'm glad you asked.
Rear-lit Photographic Backdrops
There is a LOT of info and always more to improve on in an ever changing field. This is not an exhaustive breakdown of lighting gear and its use but it should be a reasonable starting explanation of differing types of gear.
Lighting. When you get more into lights you'll be overrun with all kinds of gear and it's hard to tell which is reputable and which isn't and most of all, why? So let's start with classic gear (i.e.-Tungsten type lighting) and then we'll get to the modern (i.e.-LED's).
Permissions & Copyrights
Please feel free to use our 3D scans in your commercial productions. Credit is always welcome but not required.
Staying busy dreaming of synthetic film making while working as a VFX artist and scratching out time to write novels and be a dad to three.