We be “buggin”!

3D bug Scan

Here at Second Chance Games and Visual Effects we get asked a lot to scan things that keep our minds in gear!  Each job is different and we are subjected with new challenges to think about.  Recently we were asked if we could scan some bugs!  Some are large and some were really tiny in size.  Our hand held scanners would not be able to scan at such a small scale to provide any suitable data to work with so another solution had to take place.  I chose photogrammetry as my capture method and while I can’t go into too much detail on my set up I will provide a little insight.

The day of the scan I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up some various things that I thought may help hold the bug while scanning.  I picked up some foam circular blocks just in case I needed to stick the needle in that to hold it in place.  I ended up using this tall doll stand that I ripped the end off and shoved a pair of reversible tweezers into the slot giving me a tall device to hold the needle with.

Upon setting up I set up my lights like I normally do but this time much much closer.  We set up with the standard cross polarized setup to take care of the shiny glare that would occur on the bugs shiny body.  This gave excellent color photos not only for the photogrammetric solve but for texturing as well!  I asked the curator to see the bugs at hand and asked what the smallest average bug size would be.  I wanted to do a firm test with the hardest subject they could throw at us!  I knew that if we could scan it then the rest would be a piece of cake!  The camera setup, I will say that in order for photogrammetry to work well enough you need to get the subject in the frame as much as possible and that is something not easily done using standard gear!  But that is all I will say about that! ;O)

So I started!  Looking through my eye hole on the camera I would turn the bug only so slightly to take my shots.  It seemed like forever and my neck and back was killing me by days end…..but I was having way too much fun for that to bother me!

After having over 200 photos to work with I started the solve right there at the job site just to know if I could even do such a thing!  I was blown away when the solve pushed out a pretty point cloud of a small beetle.  It even picked up the NEEDLE!!  The needle!  Needless to say I was happy with my first bug scan and moved on to have the bug remeshed for further work to be done.

3d Bug remeshed retopology

I will say that if your interested in doing something like this that it is a game of trial and error.  But the more you know about your camera and the more photogrammetry you do…..the more things will make sense and you will know your limits.  Don’t be afraid to just try things out and experiment.  Nothing is wasted if you learned one way NOT to do something!  You simply try something different.  The more you do it the better you become.  Plain and simple!


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