Creating a three-dimensional model on a PC is a long and tedious task… well, that’s what we thought till Dr. David McKinnon came along.
The Australian researcher from the Queensland University of Technology has started a new Web site – 3Dsee – that will take a bunch of regular, 2D images of an object and create a virtual 3D model out of it. And the best part? It’s completely free!
"In the film and computer games industry, you would spend a really long time making 3D models to create footage like what 3Dsee could create in just a few minutes," Dr. McKinnon said.
"Instead of 3D animators working from a set of photos to model an object or using a cumbersome laser scanner, this software can create 3D models directly from a series of photos, which is a great time and money saver,” he said. "The full version of this software could create 3D action shots, like the famous Matrix bullet scene."
How it works
First, a person has to take a series of images of a particular object, moving a little to one direction each time, such that an overlap of the image forms in each picture. A perpendicular and spatial distance has to be maintained at all times, as shown in this illustration:
If you are still unclear as to what that means, have a look at the nine images of an idol of Ganesha.
Dr McKinnon said the software automatically locates and tracks common points between the images, allowing a determination of where the cameras were when the photos were taken. This information is then used to create a 3D model from the images using graphics cards to massively accelerate the computations.
The final product is a grayscale 3D model that can be flipped around and viewed from different angles. Use your mouse to click and drag on the rendered Ganesha image to see the end result. And of course, you could always browse through the gallery of projects that have already been rendered.
From education to social avatars
"The full version of this software would be great for realistic learning simulators and training software, where you want everything to look like the real thing," he said.
"This technology could also be great for museums wishing to turn their display objects into 3D images that can be viewed online.
"We are even looking into making 3D models of cows to save farmers spending thousands of dollars transporting their cattle vast distances to auction sites, allowing for an eBay style auction website for cattle.
"Films, animations and computer games could also benefit, since 3D film making is taking over from the traditional 2D method of filmmaking.
"Another application is allowing people to create 3D models of their own face to use on their avatar in computer games or 3D social networking sites such as Second Life or Sony's Home."