How are 3d characters created?

With tender loving care!  No, really!  Let me explain.

I remember our first job ever here at 2cgvfx.  I was excited and nervous at the same time.  I knew this particular character we were about to scan for Sleepy Hollow was going to be a hard one.  He resembled the grim reaper so he had this gigantic black robe thing that spread out so far.  Once I started scanning I realized just how much I needed Yoga in my life!  The scan itself needed to be split up into sections because the file sized were getting too large and that could lead to a processing nightmare.  After scanning the creature we had to remove the robe and do more scanning of his body just in case the robe moved you would see his chest area.  So we basically had two separate scans to work on….the robe and the guy under it.  The photography went a lot smoother.  We use a cross polarization technique that takes out the shine (spec) in the skin and fabric because you want to control that in 3d rather than it being baked in the texture or having to go through a lengthy process of taking it out of the photos before texturing.  Pack up and we are out!

The next phase we then take all the scan data and photography and process them.  We produce really nice scans that the 3d artist use to essentially rebuild the model using the scan for likeness.  The photos are processed using a color chart to keep them all as close to each other when it comes to color, hue, saturation, etc.  This helps when texturing so they blend as seamlessly as much as possible.  

The models are rebuilt and remeshed into a sensible form so they can be altered by production such as animating them.  The mesh work needs to be done in a way that is optimized for animating as well as in not hindering in the rendering phase.  We provide the model as optimized as possible so they are easier to deal with by the vfx department.  

Each model has to look pretty or as real as the day of the scanning because they usually look just the way its suppose to in the vfx shot with makeup and prosthetics.  The texturing process is one of projection based workflows.  It can get time consuming depending on the details of the subject but provides the best results.  Normally we texture in 8k for film/tv, although we have done 16k texturing which is going for some really high end content!  

After the assets have gone through all the stages we then have to create a list of deliverables for the client.  Some needs differ from studio to studio but most are the same.  We package it up and send it off in hopes to see it on the big screen which brings a smile to our faces! 

After doing the whole season for Sleepy Hollow and other films its become second nature to us now.  I love seeing just how much our artist have grown and are able to tell they get better with every job.  If you are looking for a scan company we would love to speak with you.  And if you are a character artist, we would love to talk to you as well!  You can write us at – vic@2cgvfx.com


Vic Holt

Vice President


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