I love the visual aesthetic of point clouds and their ability to represent and recreate three dimensional space. I used to bake out final gather points out of Mental Ray and combine them to re-create a static visual cue of the entire animation sequence, or as combined elements for lighting calculations. With Houdini, working with point clouds is just so much fun. Now point clouds are everywhere, and we use them from everything from storing values, geometric reconstruction, volumetric video, and just pure visual beauty.
With the ability to now get depth maps from the Google Jump Assembler in resolutions up to 8k, we are now able to implement some more advanced film techniques into the world of virtual reality production. As well, we can begin to see how we will start to create production workflows that in near future will be tools for handling volumetric video for 3d reconstruction in order to create a more immersive experience. While not “lightfield” in that this won’t represent correct light changes that are view dependent, it will allow for greater depth and parallax. As well, it allows for better integration with CGI in the world of Stereo Virtual Reality, as this is very tricky and inherently has problems. In these examples I am using the Foundry’s NukeX, Cara VR, and Ocula on the front end, and Houdini from Side Effects on the back end.
This image shows the perspective of the viewing camera of the scene with both point clouds from Nuke and Houdini merged using deep and viewing through nukes viewer. The 3D tree is rendered through Mantra with a deep pass using the point cloud generated out of Nuke as reference geometry. This is important for correct spatial alignment of depth, as the depth, in this case, comes from the Google Jump Stitcher. This is not a spatially accurate representation of real world depth, rather a spherically projected approximation. At this time, the biggest caveat is the 8-bit banding. This can be solved with a special plug-in that would incorporate a bilateral filter that would process the points while preserving edge detail.
Reality Capture (www.capturingreality.com) is my current go-to program for photogrammetry. I am just getting the hang of how it functions but it is incredibly fast, especially if you compare it Agisoft. These photos were a test using my studio space. This is with only 377 photographs. I can see where I need more camera positions to capture the whole space and will shoot it again soon. The maximum amount of images that I can do with the version of Reality capture that I have is 2500, I am not sure that I need that much, but I would like to test with around 1500.