RnD with lil’ ol Me – Digital Photogrammetry

If it’s stupid and it works… it ain’t stupid…
Recently I’ve been trying to get some of my models to work with real time renderers to see if I can finally strike a balance between getting the damn thing to work and a level of detail that I am comfortable with. While baking down details into normal maps was a magical way of dramatically reducing the polycount of my models I soon found myself missing some of the visual effects of a good ol’ offline renderer…


I really wanted to find a way of baking down lightmaps from any rendered I chose like Keyshot onto my model which can then be viewed in a real-time renderer like Marmoset Viewer…
At first it seemed simple render out 6 images of the model from different angles and project those as textures onto the original model – that way I will have all the global illumination light info from the original image with the textures. There was a small issue however – this was a terrible idea what worked on paper didn’t in real life as it was almost impossible to align the textures with the model for accurate projection, which defeated the purpose of the whole exercise and then it hit me – why not use photogrammetry for this!

For a while now I have played with the idea of photogrammetry to scan this and that like a tree or an interesting rock, but I never thought of using  renders of my model instead of photos to see what will happen…


To test this new idea of mine I decided to make 30 renders of my model from different angles (with the standard 60%-70% overlay). I then imported my “photos” into Agisoft Photoscan. There I aligned all the camera angles and proceeded to build a point cloud, then a dense cloud and finally a textured mesh!


As with most scanned objects there were a few errors here and there. To fix those I imported my model into Zbrush where I corrected and adjusted any oddities and proceeded to decimate the object.


At the end of the process I had a mesh of around 6,000 polys from one that was around 10 million along with all the global illumination data and textures!

15181449_10202430163312219_187833394437559357_n*final render in Marmoset

Now this is obviously a relatively rough idea that I’m working with and while the outcome is a little basic but I already have some plans that can dramatically improve the results! Stay tuned for further testing (when I have time…)


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