Halo 4 Spartan Ops 3D Scanning
Client :: Axis Animation
Ten24 and Axis Animation are seasoned partners, having worked together on several large projects over the years. We both share the same appreciation for visual quality.
Their new proposition was massive – to take our head scanning technology and produce assets for Halo Spartan Ops, one of the most loved game franchises of all time and also one of the most anticipated Halo releases in recent years. The benchmark would be high. Thankfully we had recently upgraded our photogrammetry scanner and were eager to set about the task.
Actors were cast and we headed off to meet them at Spotlight Studios in London. Our rig is designed to be fully portable with no wires, cables or cumbersome computer equipment inhibiting potential scanning locations and just over an hour after arriving for the shoot we’d assembled the equipment and were ready to go.
Traditionally scanning a head has been a fairly slow process with older structured light and laser systems taking up to 30 seconds to perform the scan. Whilst this might not seem like a long time any movement during the scan can drastically reduce the quality of the final mesh. Even breathing can result in severely misaligned sections of the model. However we’ve overcome these issues by constructing a custom scanner that is able to capture a full head, in colour, in approximately 1/10,000th of a second by synchronising 18 DSLR cameras and four flashes. These capture a split second collection of multi angled shots that can be processed using stereo photogrammetry techniques to generate a high quality, distortion free scan/mesh.
The images are then processed using AGI photoscan and converted into a raw textured model consisting over over 4 million triangles.
The next stage is to load the scan/mesh into ZBrush for projection and clean up. We use the QRemesher tool to create a much cleaner mesh over the top of the raw scan. This gives us a nice quaded mesh to work with and we can also dictate the polygon resolution at the same time. The high resolution details are then projected onto this new mesh and cleaned up using traditional sculpting methods in ZBrush, all the while retaining as much of the original scans qualities as possible. [Often there’s an area of noise, hair or a wig cap to remove].
This model now serves as the base for another fully retopologised/UV’d mesh. This is either made by ourselves, or as in this case, provided to us by Axis Animation.
Due to the nature of the photogrammetry scanner, we are able to capture extremely high resolution, evenly lit texture maps as well. As a result we supplied 8k colour maps for all the head models, and then bump, reflection, roughness and displacement maps to complete the asset package.
We reproject the scan details and textures on to this final mesh. Then finish off by creating eyes, eyelashes and teeth
We delivered the fully retopologised animation ready models with a complete set of textures including Colour, Bump, Spec, Reflection, Displacement and Normal maps
A Zbrush screen capture of the Grant head scan fully retopologised and textured
Up resing game assets
Having worked with Axis Animation for a number of years we have a pretty good understanding of their pipeline and for that reason the task of up-resing, UV mapping and texturing the already excellent 343 industries game models fell to us.
The problem with game assets is that they rely heavily on normal maps to define areas of detail, our job was to turn these low resolution assets into high resolution models that would hold up along side the other cinematic characters.
We began by exporting the high res 343 industries Ztools which were intended only as objects from which the low res game models could be baked. The topology was fairly good so we didn’t have too much trouble cleaning it up and preparing it for subdivision and displacement mapping.
Once the mesh was to our liking we UV mapped the models using Maya and Modo
A character like this marine had 4 separate UV maps as shown below.
The final stage of the process was to texture the model, for this we used a combination of Photoshop, Bodypaint and Zbrush. We performed exactly the same process for the Pilot character below