Bringing Real Places And People Into VR With Volumetric Capture

Besides the entertainment industry, virtual reality and augmented reality have made its way into other more business related sectors. VR and AR technologies offer new solutions in architecture, education, energy, travel and hospitality as well as therapy and rehabilitation.

However once entering the fields of real world applications, a more immersive and realistic representation of human beings and real-life objects is desired. However, current 3D character animation techniques do not facilitate the required level of realism. Also, the process of VR content creation is time-consuming and fails to represent all detailed motions of objects and actors, especially their body movement, facial expressions and clothing.

Mysterious sounding technology called volumetric capture combined with photogrammetry is promised to change that. Photogrammetry allows to have a full 3D scan of a place such as a shop, hospital or a factory. This still 3D scan works as a VR environment which a user can walk through. Volumetric capture fills this e3D space with digital twins of real people. Imagine putting a VR headset and standing in a 16 century castle where a historian tells you about the painting you are looking at.

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3D scan of Swedish Museum and volumetric video educator

What is Volumetric Video and Photogrammetry?

The volumetric capture technique records moving objects and people from all directions using multiple 3D cameras to creates a dynamic 3D models. The technology produces volumetric video of a person. In other words it creates a digital 3D twin of a person with all of his movements. It’s very different from the traditional technology such as 360 videos. 360 videos are stitched images which doesn’t give you full volume of items inside it. On the other hand, volumetric capture uses sensors, computer graphics, photogrammetry, and other computation-based methods. It fully scans and reproduces the object, with all details and from all angles. In short, it creates a digital copy of any live and moving object. In comparison, photogrammetry is the process of taking many pictures of a place or object and stitching them together using Reality Capture Software. This produces still and not moving volumetric object.

Applications of volumetric video are limitless. For example, it allows to create highly interactive ways to learn without actually going to places in reality. Also it is highly valuable in training situations which are dangerous and impossible to reproduce. Police academies, medical institutions as well as oil and gas, manufacturing are already using this in their day to day learning activities. They are able to walk through real VR environments, touch objects, view them from different angles while 3D captures of people are accompanying them and playing a part.

Also, volumetric capture brings the world closer as business meetings and conferences can be attended live in VR and AR. Regardless of the country or city, you will feel like you’re physically present at the meeting which might be taking place miles away from you. Most importantly you won’t see a 3D modeled avatar of your colleague but actually a real person standing in front of you.

Choosing Volumetric Capture Solutions

There are many volumetric capture solutions available on the market. But since most of them are either expensive or not portable. The studio set ups consists of over 100 custom made sensors and requires an enormous amount of machines to process the data. Therefore not every business can take advantage of this mind blowing technology.

However, EF EVE volumetric capture is trying to change by bringing a setup which supports cameras you can purchase in every online shop. The software they provide is currently the most affordable and easy to use solution on the market. Instead of spending $200K per 10 minutes of recording in a volumetric capture studio, companies can have their own set up for less than $1K. This includes the software and the hardware. The platform also allows companies to host their photogrammetry environments and walk through it in VR without writing a single l;ine of code. You can easily create highly quality training material and creative content for web, mobile, VR and AR.

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Microsoft volumetric capture set up.

Conclusion

Volumetric capture and photogrammetry are revolutionizing the VR and AR video production and user experience. The technology is still in its early days but is slowly shaping the future of VR industry. It is bringing more realistic immersive content to consumers and businesses.

Many companies and institutions are starting to realise that VR can be a great learning and visualisation tool. This is mostly due to photogrammetry and volumetric capture presence. However, in order to take volumetric video as well as VR mainstream in business markets there needs to be more affordable portable volumetric capture set ups. Microsoft with its Azure Kinect and Intel with RealSesnse sensors are definitely bridging the gap form hardware perspective. Therefore, need for powerful software is growing.

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