What is Photogrammetry?

I’m glad you asked! If you spend much time in the world of 3D modeling and animation, it won’t take you long before you come across this term. Photogrammetry is essentially the process of taking a bunch of photos of an object, and generating a 3D model of the object in the photos. Seems crazy, right?

Of course like anything, you can spend as little or as much as you want doing this kind of thing, but some may be surprised that you can create your very first 3D photoscan using tools that you probably already have lying around. If you have a computer and a cell phone, you can get started right away!

Get Started

First, find the right subject. Bad subjects are hyper-intricate like fine brushes or translucent things like certain types of leaves or glass. Also, your subject has to remain perfectly still while you’re taking pictures. Your two year old nephew and your cat are also bad choices for scanning.

Good choices for scanning are things that are still, opaque, and don’t have  much reflectivity or transparency. Things like rocks, tree trunks, seashells, or backpacks make great subjects.

Once you’ve got your subject, you’re ready to rock! Snap a ton of pictures from every angle you can get. And even when you think you’ve got enough, take a few more because when you’re turning these photos into a 3D object later, you’re always better off waiting a few minutes longer because you took too many photos rather than getting a jumbled up mess of geometry because you didn’t take enough photos.

I didn’t have enough good photos of this object, so the point cloud is sparse.

You can find good many options for software with a Google search for “photogrammetry software”. Once you’ve got your software, just drop in all your photos, and hit go!

Wrap it up

Your photogrammetry software will analyze all of your photos and use the metadata to triangulate the position of various features in each image. A point cloud will result after the first few processes are complete. Point clouds are essentially just points on a three dimensional graph. The information contained in the point cloud can be used to construct a mesh and an image texture resulting in a 3D model you can use anywhere!

If you want to learn more, just stay tuned because I’ve got a few tutorials planned to hit the learn library later this year! Hope you guys learned something new and I’m pumped to keep sharing. In the meantime, if you’re new to 3D, check out my Blender 2.8 Overview course over in the learn library!