Using 3D Data for Visualization
While we touched on visualization, one of several downstream applications in Chapter Six, the subject is so comprehensive that it deserves a chapter of its own.
As our lives become increasingly digital and interactive (via the web, video games, and even television and our cell phones), we have come to expect ever more realistic interpretations of real world objects within this virtual realm. One of the best ways to perfect the digital form is to actually copy the shape of objects into 3D via laser scanning and digital imaging.
Visualization applications generally fall into the following categories:
- Animations – 3D digital movies made from computer models
- Renderings – 2D images made from computer models
- Direct 3Dviews – real-time interactive web-based 3D visualizations
- ShapeShot™ – real-time interactive web-based 3D facial images
When most people think of computer animation they think of the neat special effects in blockbuster movies and the animated explanations of complex events on the nightly news, such as train accidents. Yes – 3D models are frequently used for those types of animations. But often these animations are pure visualizations where the dimensional accuracy of the objects is less important – as long as it looks good.
Our brand of 3D scanning and modeling is more valuable when the quality of the models is critical, such as for museum objects, or military simulations, or for animating highly recognizable objects for tv commercials such as cars. These situations require accuracy and authenticity, which scanning provides, so the objects in the animations look as real as possible. Often real colors and textures are captured and applied to provide that much more realism.
We have created numerous 3D animations from our 3D scanned models for a wide variety of applications including illustrating complex medical procedures, forensic analysis, describing historic preservation sites, and even for Hollywood movies and commercials.
Rendering is the process of creating a still image from a 3D model. High quality 2D renderings are often created from an existing 3D model that was originally captured for other purposes. These renderings can be used for graphical presentations, marketing, and even websites. For instance, if a product designer has created a hand-carved physical model for reverse engineering purposes, he can also use that same digital file to create awesome 2D images of his product for marketing graphics. The great thing about a rendering created from a 3D model is that it is highly accurate and quick to render out multiple lighting and background states to create multiple renderings without staging new photography shoots.
A Direct 3Dview is a fully-interactive real-time 3D presentation of a digital model in a virtual environment. This 3D model visualization can be displayed via a website, a PowerPoint, or even in a stand-alone format. The Direct 3Dview of your object can be used to create an on-line 3D catalog to allow web visitors to fully experience the product – virtually. Another great application is for 3D proofs of concept for a new design or invention in a collaborative viewing environment.
Features of the Direct 3Dview include:
- Smallest viewer on the web – the one-time plug-in is only 130KB
- Smaller digital file sizes = faster download times
- Easily integrates into web sites
- Viewer supported in e-mail as well as PowerPoint
- View file in actual 3D, not a series of images
ShapeShots™ are high resolution 3D snapshots of faces that are incredibly life-like. ShapeShot™ enables online personal interaction with amazingly real 3D avatars of you, friends, and family for social networking, online gaming, virtual collaborative environments, and fabrication of personalized consumer products.
New advances in 3D imaging technology have made it to possible to capture faces in a split second and receive an interactive 3D model within minutes with almost no effort.
Direct Dimensions is currently developing the ShapeShot™ concept. See www.shapeshot.com for more information.
From the Virtual to the Physical
The above examples are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to visualization applications. But what happens if you want to take your 3D model and make a physical copy of it? For instance, can you take your Guitar Hero avatar and get a physical 3D copy made? You can, and that process is called Rapid Prototyping or RP. Rapid Prototyping is just one of many technologies that fall into the “3D Printing” category and we’ll be talking about that next.
Happy Very Brand New year to All of you..