The secrets of 3D scanning

Whenever you see a comic book hero flying through space or crashing through a wall, chances are they're a digital double of a real actor expertly crafted by a visual effects studio.

But how is an actor's likeness captured with such absolute photorealism? These days that's often the domain of 3D scanning providers, which rely on portable – and often custom – photogrammetry rigs that they can bring right onto the set. That way they can whisk actors in and out of the scanning process and generate a CG model of their face and body as fast as possible, helping to save the film studio a lot of expensive production time.

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Ian Failes

Ian Failes is a VFX journalist, who has written for a number of creative titles, including fxguide, Cartoon Brew, VFX Voice, 3D Artist, 3D World, Thrillist, Syfy, Inverse, Digital Arts, MovieMaker, Empire Magazine Australia, Develop, Rolling Stone and Polygon. Ian now runs befores & afters, a brand-new visual effects and animation online magazine.