How to turn 3D Scans into fully-controllable virtual actors

(Image credit: Reallusion)

3D-scanned people are widely used to create visualisations in many industries beyond games and films. From manufacturing, business, archviz and digital twins to media entertainment, they are the key element to bring simulations closer to realism, making the virtual scenario convincing as a real world.  

Thousands of 3D people can be easily found online. But as realistic as they look, most 3D characters tend to lack the natural movement of real human beings, either in static poses, emotionless faces or stiff body animations. To transform scanned models to animated people requires not only skill and experience, but also the technology for character creation.

Now, Reallusion (opens in new tab), the developer of iClone (opens in new tab) and Character Creator (opens in new tab), has brought a new “Scan to Animation Pipeline”, adding details, realism and performance for scanning images. In collaboration with The Scan Truck, a Hollywood-based 3D scanning service company, and ICVR (opens in new tab), a global creative and digital production studio, Reallusion has successfully turned scanned models into lively animated 3D characters that are fully controllable and can be exported to major 3D tools for any productions.

The Scan Truck

The Scan Truck, a professional 3D scanning service company in Hollywood (Image credit: The Scan Truck)

When experts met leaders in character creation

Located in Los Angeles, the heart of the American entertainment industry, The Scan Truck and ICVR  have partnered with major Hollywood studios and international corporations including Warner Brothers, FOX, Universal Studio, Sony pictures, Apple, Netflix and more, to create avatars and digital content for famous games, films and marketing campaigns. Recent successes include creating digital doubles for Grand Theft Auto 5, Xbox games, and for feature films including Marvel’s Black Window, Dune, and Terminator: Dark Fate.

The Scan Truck

Many international acclaimed projects by The Scan Truck and ICVR (Image credit: The Scan Truck)

It was an instant click between The Scan Truck, ICVR, and Reallusion, each with a long list of credentials on character creations. Impressed by the character creation technology of Reallusion’s “Scan to Animation Pipeline”, The Scan Truck and ICVR took part in the new 3D character creation workflow with Reallusion without hesitation.

After recruiting 15 people for a shooting day inside their studio truck in LA, The Scan Truck precisely captured the likeness of each model using their high-end scanning technology.  

The Scan Truck

The Scan Truck’s photogrammetry precisely captured the likeness of the model (Image credit: The Scan Truck)

Next, a multidisciplinary team of technologists, artists, and engineers in ICVR constructed these scanned images into high quality 3D models through detailed data processing.   

“We as content creators feel the pain of people out there, having these high quality models but  not accessible for most usages,” said Chris Swiatek, Chief of Product, ICVR. “It is fantastic to see our 3D content turned into vivid 3D characters with controllable animation and deployed in a wide range of applications beyond games and films.  We're very excited to be among the early testers of this pipeline and to see the increased efficiency it brings to art production as a whole.”


Clean up and refine model details in ZBrush by ICVR (Image credit: ICVR)


Test rendering result in Mari by ICVR (Image credit: ICVR)

From creation to content animation, Reallusion redefines 3D characters

Constantly evolving its products to keep pace with next-generation technology while also providing unique implementation that adapts its tools to all levels of creators, Reallusion is setting a new industry standard for real-time character creation (opens in new tab). The company’s “Scan to Animation Pipeline” provides the highest realism and control over 3D people, aiming to effectively level up business visualization for archviz, digital twins (manufacturing, construction), traffic or crowd simulation. At the same time, the new pipeline synchronises with the rapid growth of real-time visualization offered by GPU and game engines including NVIDIA Omniverse.


Reallusion’s character creation technology - SkinGen in Character Creator (Image credit: Reallusion)


Reallusion’s character creation technology - expression refining in iClone (Image credit: Reallusion)

Deploying its advanced technology on facial and body rigging, morphing, and lipsyc animations, Reallusion’s new pipeline can generate two unique outputs from 3D scanned images:

actorORIGIN: High-res digital humans for Character Creator 


actorORIGIN offers digital humans with the highest details (Image credit: Reallusion)

These ultra-realistic digital humans deliver the highest details for close-up performance, customizable with hair, facial and body morph, skin layers, and outfit systems, suitable for real-time film and AAA game projects. It is the native character format (CC3+) in Character Creator, with a large amount of assets including body shapes, appearances, outfits, and accessories for mix’n’match.


actorORIGIN allows same character with different outfits and hairstyles (Image credit: Reallusion)

actorSCAN: Photo-realistic 3D people for crowd rendering


actorSCAN characters are with optimized topology & character rigs (Image credit: Reallusion)

These one-mesh, fully-dressed, lightweight models are designed to enliven business simulations with fully rigged, all controllable, true-to-life digital crowds, all with facial expression and lip-sync animation suitable for long to middle camera ranges.


actorSCAN characters suitable for long to middle camera ranges and lightweight for crowd scene usage (Image credit: Reallusion)

Scanned actors live on stage in 3D productions

Reallusion’s animated 3D avatars are fully compatible with thousands of AAA production motions available on ActorCore (opens in new tab), Reallusion’s premium online 3D asset library, allowing one character to be used for multiple purposes from business, training, archiviz, to films, and games. All content is also compatible with most 3D programs including Unreal Engine, Unity, Blender, Maya, MotionBuilder, 3ds Max, Cinema4D and iClone.


Reallusion 3D avatars are fully compatible with ActorCore motions  (Image credit: Reallusion)


Reallusion 3D avatars are fully compatible with most 3D programs (Image credit: Reallusion)

Join the incredible “Scan to Animation” pipeline

With a never-ending passion for bringing CG characters to life, Reallusion is looking for partners who excel in 3D scanning and character design to join ActorCore (opens in new tab), enabling designers from all backgrounds to easily enliven their game, movie, and interactive projects with rich asset selection. Contact (opens in new tab) for more information.


(Image credit: Reallusion)

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).