Whenever I think of 3D scanning, I think of this very complicated process of a multitude of cameras surrounding an object, taking pictures at every angle, and then blending them all together with a computer.
A PhD student at the Cambridge University Engineering Department named Qi Pan has made like Apple and “thought different”.
As you can see from the video after the jump, Pan took a detailed paper building and rotated it on an axis, filming it with an ordinary web camera. His ProFORMA (Probabilistic Feature-based On-line Rapid Model Acquisition) program scanned it, and he immediately had something ready for 3D model generation. He could even shake the real thing and move it, and the CG image would do the same. Wild!
A program like this can have a lot of applications, but all I can think about is the way it will change animated films with 3D computer animation. Instead of some graphics designer having to painstakingly make an object for three-dimensional space, all the programmers would need is a simple rotational scan. It’s better technology than motion-capture!
This man Qi Fan has just made computer animation history, and I look forward to the next PIXAR or PDI film that will use it. Of course, the technology is still under development, but I can see it being in the hands of a typical consumer.