I started this blog in 2014 after I got frustrated with my first 3D printer. The great amount of readers that first post attracted—and still attracts—inspired me to write many more about 3D printing. A year after I started I became a father, vaporizing both my maker space and maker time. But those where not the only reasons I lost interest in 3D printing (it took me another year to discover why).
In 2015 I started experimenting with another 3D-related technology—Virtual Reality. I experimented a lot with it and tried every VR headset I could get my hands on. I did write a few posts about it, but it somehow didn’t excite me as much as I expected.
I took a break to think about why I lost interest in both 3D printing and VR after experimenting with both obsessively for about a year each. The answer turned out to be the reason why I started experimenting with these technologies in the first place.Both 3D printing and VR are new outputs—or rendering methods, if you will—for the 3D design skills I gathered over the last 10 years, but had only applied to rendering computer images and animations. And when I think back about everything I wrote about in the last two years, I now realize that I enjoyed the digital creation of the designs I 3D printed or turned into VR experiences the most.
This blog was originally sub-titled “3D Printing for Creative Professionals” and the concept still is to write about technology from a creative’s—or creator’s, to be more precise—point of view. And my increasing lack of interest might have been because I was focussing to much on the final output of the technologies I was experimenting with, instead of the actual creation part of the process.
On top of that, I believe the future success of both 3D printing and VR depends on the ability for consumers to easily create content for these technologies. That got me thinking about what new creation technologies I could experiment with beyond purely digital software-based 3D modeling. And then I realized that the user-friendly capturing of the world around us—in 3D—is the one thing that all these technologies need to become consumer successes. Like the ability to easily capture digital video (with smartphones, GoPros…) did for YouTube and the general success of online video.
The future success of both 3D printing and VR depends on the ability for consumers to easily create content for these technologies.
What I discovered is that while 3D printing and VR get al lot of media attention, the development of 3D capturing technologies—also known as Reality Capture—is developing just as fast to a point where it’s already available and affordable for many people. Both Photogrammetry, which is method of creating 3D models from a series of regular photographs, and actual 3D Scanning—or Sensing—are already possible on most modern smartphones. The latter might currently require additional hardware, but thanks to recent advancements of Google’s Project Tango, Intel’s RealSense and Apples rumored plans to put 2 cameras on the back of the iPhone 7, that might be changing very soon.
So last week I decided that after 2014’s 3D Printing and 2015’s Virtual Reality, my focus for this year’s experiments and blog posts will be Reality Capturing—3D Scanning, Photogrammetry and other technologies that can turn physical things into digital 3D models.
Obsessive as I can get when I’m excited about new stuff, a box just arrived with a Cubify* Sense handheld 3D Scanner that I will review soon. Of course I couldn’t resist to do a quick experiment so I made a quick 3D Scan of the styrofoam mannequin head that used to be a display for our animation studio’s Oculus Rift DK2 (which we sold for way too much money). Check the header image of this post for a sneak peak of the results.
I Also did a quick Photogrammetry test by taking a series of photos of my co-founder Patrick (who runs an interesting blog about Photoshop Animation, by the way) and using Autodesk Recap 360 to solve the 3D data. I uploaded the 3D model to Sketchfab so it can be viewed online in real time. Surely my Photogrammetry skills need a lot of work, but even failed experiments can be great for storytelling—just hit play:
The guys at Sketchfab tipped me that that making crappy 3D captures of workspaces in is actually a thing.
Please let me know if you’re as excited about this as I am—or disappointed—by dropping me a line on Twitter @NickLievendag.
*As you might have read, industrial 3D Printing giant 3D Systems recently discontinued their consumer-focussed Cubify brand (so I got the Sense 3D Scanner at a very good price!) Of course this news, combined with today’s news that the other 3D Printing giant, Stratasys, has lost 90% of it’s business value in the past 18 months after acquiring the consumer-focussed MakerBot brand, is a big indication for me that I’m not the only one that lost interest in consumer-level 3D printers.