Frighteningly Realistic 3D Printable Zombies Created Via Photogrammetry

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female34scaryEveryone loves a good zombie, don’t they? Well, maybe not everyone – I’ve known a few people whose worst fears are genuinely related to a potential zombie apocalypse. I can hardly blame them – zombies are everywhere in movies and TV these days, and thanks to top-quality special effects technologies, they’re more terrifying than ever. If you’re throwing a Halloween party tonight and need a last-minute way to scare the living daylights out of people, how about putting a lifelike 3D printed zombie in your living room? It’ll take some work, but thanks to the 3D scanning experts at SnapTank, you can access some high-quality, realistic 3D models right now.

SnapTank is a London-based startup dedicated to providing a library of high-quality, photorealistic 3D models for visual effects artists and studios, game designers, and anyone else who needs them. The team at the London startup also happen to be huge Walking Dead fans, so to celebrate the recent premier of the seventh season – as well as Halloween – they decided to 3D scan some zombies.

It wasn’t a simple project, so they called in some experts for help. Clear Angle Studios, a team of 3D scanning specialists working out of London’s Shepperton Studios, specializes in high-definition facial and body scanning via photogrammetry, and they were glad to bring in their mobile photogrammetry rig to capture a couple of actors in full zombie mode.

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“It was a serious challenge,” said SnapTank’s Ross Martin. “We had to have great actors, the best special effects make up and costume, a photogrammetry scanning rig, and access to high quality 3D printing services. Our aim wasn’t just to make zombie scans accessible and to show the potential of what can be achieved by merging 3D scans with 3D printing. But to give the 3D community an insight into how production quality 3D scans are produced.”

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Makeup was provided by Robbie Drake of RedFX, whose expertise transformed two perfectly normal humans into undead horrors. The actors were then put in front of Clear Angle Studios’ photogrammetry rig, which is composed of 150 DLSR cameras capable of taking lightning-fast images.

“Photogrammetry is good for capturing people, mainly because they move – even if you stand perfectly still they are always going to move because they are breathing and their blood is flowing through their veins,” said Matt Bowler, capture coordinator for Clear Angle Studios. “You need to be able to capture it instantly, that’s why a multi-camera rig is very good for this.”

zombiePhotogrammetry is also excellent for capturing texture and pattern, according to Bowler – important for translating the overall grossness of zombies into digital form. Once the photographs were captured, creative studio Feed Me Light, a year-old company specializing in animation, took over, rendering the final images into 3D models. 3D printing and scanning service Digits2Widgets then 3D printed them.

“We haven’t seen anything like it produced before,” said Martin. “The quality is incredible. Right down to the teeth of the Zombie! We’re really excited to make the scans available to the community, and reveal a behind the scenes exclusive into how the scanning was achieved.”

The entire project took about three months, and the 3D models are available at SnapTank’s website at 50% off until the end of November. While they’re ideal for digital artists, they’re also 3D printable – though if you have a 3D printer fast enough to complete one in time for tonight’s Halloween party, that’s something I want to see. Maybe next year! You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the project below:

Discuss in the 3D Printable Zombies forum at 3DPB.com.

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