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Artec 3D scanners used for the Hollywood blockbuster “World War Z”

Bringing to life a world-wide zombie invasion starring Brad Pitt

August 13, 2013
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Doctor Who, Golden Compass, Harry Potter , Sherlock Holmes are just a few of the Hollywood blockbusters that 2h3D Ltd has to their credit. Located near Pinewood and Shepperton Studios in the UK, 2h3D Ltd has film and TV credits that stretch back 15 years. During "World War Z" pre-production, 2h3D was approached by the film's VFX department to discuss how they might assist in the digital capture of assets for the upcoming production, including sets and locations, bodies, costumes, vehicles and props. The company then worked alongside the VFX department at various locations in Malta, Hungary, Scotland and England as well as at Shepperton and Elstree Studios to deliver around 100 digital assets to be used in the flick.
‘World War Z’ is a horror film that recently premiered in movie theaters world-wide to rave reviews. The film, directed by Marc Forster, was based on the 2006 Max Brooks novel of the same name. The film starsBrad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former UN investigator who must find a way to stop a zombie-like pandemic, traveling around the globe to fight this threat to humanity.

Artec scanners from www.artec3d.com were used to digitize weapons, multiple baggage items for the plane crash scene, as well as actors and their elaborate costumes.

The process

For scanning, one Artec MHT (for heads/faces and props) and one Artec L (for bodies) were used, in conjunction with a motorized turntable. Capture of each performer took less than 5 minutes and head scans were done in less than a minute. Then, Artec Studio was used to process and edit the scan data before exporting the fused model into other software for processing and poly-sculpting.

Two days were allocated for 2h3d to process and edit each full body, including merging the higher resolution head scan with the body data. Sometimes this process took less time, sometimes more - it depended on how still the subject stood and how complex his/her outfit was.

In the words of Guy Hauldren - Director - 2h3D Ltd. Head of Scanning for World War Z: "Considering the quantity of scanning subjects, the numerous locations, the cramped areas we were expected to set up in and the often narrow set-up and capture window, Artec scanners were the only feasible option. With a plug-and-play USB interface and no calibration they are the perfect tool to use in the often chaotic world of film production. We were delighted with their usability in the field and the resultant data back at the studio, and we continue to utilize them heavily in all our feature production work."

In addition to the quality of data, 2h3d chose an Artec scanner for a number of reasons:

The equipment is portable. Both of their scanners (MHT + L) fit into a single, regular-sized camera bag taken aboard a plane as hand-luggage, so the equipment was never at the mercy of airport baggage handlers.

There is no complicated setup.No calibration before scanning and with a plug-n-play approach allowed them to start scanning as soon as they got to the set.

Large jobs are not a problem. The Artec 3D software is smart: it uses multi-thread and 64-bit processing. This means that it can deal with large amount of data.

Artec 3D scans humans easily. Artec Studio comes standard with the "non-rigid alignment" feature. This algorithm helps the operator come up with a quality human-body scan even if the subject was moving during scanning.

Scans dark/black objects. 2h3d scanned close to 200 subjects in 5 locations. Each one was in a costume and the scanners were able to scan each one, regardless of their color or glare. In the past 3D scanners had trouble scanning black and shiny objects.

Ambient light is not an issue. Unlike other scanners that 2h3d tried, Artec scanners are not bothered by ambient light. This means that they didn't have to build an expensive, special set for 3D scanning. This saved a lot of money and time. 

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