Photogrammetry

I remember when I first heard about photogrammetry in 2012. Autodesk had just come out with 123D Catch for smartphones and the idea of finally being able to make my own 3D models was exciting. I was a Macromedia Flash kid growing up, and was put off working in 3D due to limitations of the interfaces at the time. But I loved sculpting and had done a lot of bronze casting in college and wanted to be able to translate that to games possibly. 123D catch was an interesting experiment but years later, after getting into VR and finally committing myself to learning 3D modeling, photogrammetry really started to make inroads into the 3D production pipeline and I decided to try it out again! This time using Autodesk ReMake I took a bunch of scans of natural landscapes on the hiking trails of Austin TX and converted them into models. I also wasn’t satisfied with just doing that though, and I’ve tried to experiment and try new things with each scan that I’ve tried. In particular one of the things I’m most interested in, is the distortion of the hyper-realistic textures derived from the photographs. My favorite deconstruction of this has been creating the mapped textures and then running them through a program that visually emulates classic hardware from the 80s and 90s, like the ZXSpectrum, the Atari 2600, or Nintendo Gameboy.

The actual load out of the photogrammetry models is a bit nasty to deal with as actual final production assets. They tend to be way too hi poly, with no way to create decent topology apart from a complete retopo. Rather I think they’re more useful as a way of creating assets like depth maps, procedural textures, and substances, which you can see a lot of cool modelers on ArtStation using them in this fashion. That said I would love someday to use this kind of art style in a game or experience, and I plan to continue experimenting with the technology since I think it will only become more relevant to the 3D pipeline as computer vision and other similar technologies increase in their sophistication and integration into our everyday technological lives.