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How photogrammetry brought the world of Resident Evil to life

A symphony of staccato shutter tips filled the air. Xenongas emitted dozens of camera flashes. Capcom was visiting a meat processing factory with a whole range of camera equipment.

Iron-stomached photographers shot photo after photo of game meat together with ivory bones and flowing blood. Then they ordered tofu and pizza, but not to clean their taste buds. They were also photographic stuffs.

The meat, bones, blood and intestines translated into zombified meat in their recent remake of Resident Evil 2. The tofu photos helped them to create the Tofu character from the game's eponymous Tofu Survivor mode. As for the pizza, that was actually one of the first images the public saw in the trailer of the E3 2018 game when a rat shot over it.

The ability to scan objects and then collect texture data has been around for some time, but photogrammetry records both at the same time. By streamlining that process, we can produce accurate 3D models with accurate texture faster than ever before.

Members of the RE2-dev team

The process that Capcom used to transpose many photos to what players saw reflected in their world of non-fleeing is called photogrammetry, and Capcom has had the art and technology of this process since 2017 & apos; Resident Evil 7.

"The photos we take can capture fine-grained details, such as the texture of an object, which in turn enables us to create realistic, high-quality 3D models," members of the Resident Evil 2 development team told us in an interview.

"The ability to scan objects and then collect texture data has been around for some time, but photogrammetry records both at the same time. By streamlining that process, we can produce accurate, well-structured 3D models faster than ever before."

Streamlining processes such as rendering is the key if you want to make large budget games: it lowers costs, saves time and ultimately creates a better product – in this case one of the highest rated games of 2019.

(youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-lEnz5QKuM)

Photogrammetry 101

The field of photogrammetry uses photographs to make accurate and advanced measurements and has applications ranging from cartography to archeology.

The game industry has taken over the science of photogrammetry in recent years to produce highly detailed 3D models, such as those found in Resident Evil 2 & apos; s art-deco museum-turned-police station and the purified white laboratory stained in grim relief with arterial spurts of blood.

This process works by first taking a series of overlapping photos of a subject from all angles to build an extensive series of measurements of the subject in 3D space. The photos are then stuck together using specialized software that takes into account scale, angle and perspective. In this way, a series of 2D images becomes a seamless 3D reconstruction.

Overlapping aerial photos can be used to make topographic maps, while 3D models often come up close and personal with their subjects in using this technique.

Photogrammetry is also remarkably scalable. A cursory glance at the internet reveals tutorials on how to do rudimentary photogrammetry with a smartphone camera. Of course, the technology used by AAA development studios ' s is a little more advanced than that.

A match made in heaven (or … hell)

This versatile approach to making high-fidelity 3D models has made it possible for Capcom to push the boundaries to literally photo-realistic territory. Not only can it be applied to architecture and organic materials, but also facial image and even details as fast as wrinkles and folds in clothing.

"For Resident Evil 2, we hired live models that matched our character's descriptions, gave them appropriate costumes, and then used photogrammetry to capture the data we built the 3D models from. Action video. Many of the objects in the game were made with the same process, "the developers told us.

"Something we had to deal with in this game was the difference in size between the stunt actors and the actors in the face model. We had to find a way to connect them by performing some first face scans to use as a target also use photogrammetry to record the contortions that appear in actors' outfits as they walk around and in their faces as they emotion. "

To achieve this, Capcom's 3D scanning studio has 141 commercially available digital SLRs with one lens in two booths. One position is dedicated to making richly detailed scans for the entire body, made up of photographs taken with 103 cameras, while the other 38 are in a separate position for face scans.

According to Capcom, the number of photos required per object or person is directly proportional to the desired quality. They took an average of around 100 photos for each model in the game for things like …

Is the future of gaming picture perfect?

According to the Resident Evil 2 development team, there are a few drawbacks to using photogrammetry – some objects can be cost-effective to buy or produce, while others are constantly moving (such as trees and foliage that can swing in the wind) ) can introduce noise into the 3D data when they are converted if they are moved during the scanning process.

That's also not even mentioning the setup costs, which is quite bulky when you factor in a scanning studio and acquire the equipment therein.

"But if we assume that the object we want is easy to deliver, the quality of the end product compared to what is possible with traditional methods is more than worth the extra costs," Capcom said. "We also take into account the investment and operating costs of the photogrammetric studio, but we think this is an incredibly effective way to create assets, especially in terms of the quality that most contemporary games demand."

That's why photogrammetry continues to leave a footprint in the game development industry and why Capcom has said they will continue to use it for their future projects.

Moreover, Capcom tells us, they are looking at a future where it is not something worthwhile, but another everyday tool in the belts of makers.

"The photogrammetry will eventually stop being special, and in some respects it will reach that point. What is important is a kind of authoring talent that always strives for higher quality and adds even more value to the title. Is ultimately only a part of the basics used to create games and images. "

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