Category Archives: 3D

Behind the scenes: Mandalorian & deepfakes

I hadn’t heard of Disney’s Gallery: The Mandalorian, but evidently it revealed more details about the Luke Skywalker scene. In response, according to Screen Rant,

VFX team Corridor Crew took the time to share their thoughts on the show’s process. From what they determined, Hamill was merely on set to provide some reference points for the creative team and the stand-in actor, Max Lloyd-Jones. The Mandalorian used deepfake technology to pull together Hamill’s likeness, and they combed through countless hours of Star Wars footage to find the best expressions.

I found the 6-minute segment pretty entertaining & enlightening. Check it out:

Adobe researchers show off new depth-estimation tech for regular images

I keep meaning to pour one out for my nearly-dead homie, Photoshop 3D (post to follow, maybe). We launched it back in 2007 thinking that widespread depth capture was right around the corner. But “Being early is the same as being wrong,” as Marc Andreessen says, and we were off by a decade (before iPhones started putting depth maps into images).

Now, though, the world is evolving further, and researchers are enabling apps to perceive depth even in traditional 2D images—no special capture required. Check out what my colleagues have been doing together with university collaborators:

[Via]

AR: How the giant Carolina Panther was made

By now you’ve probably seen this big gato bounding around:

https://twitter.com/Panthers/status/1437103615634726916?s=20

I’ve been wondering how it was done (e.g. was it something from Snap, using the landmarker tech that’s enabled things like Game of Thrones dragons to scale the Flatiron Building?). Fortunately the Verge provides some insights:

In short, what’s going on is that an animation of the virtual panther, which was made in Unreal Engine, is being rendered within a live feed of the real world. That means camera operators have to track and follow the animations of the panther in real time as it moves around the stadium, like camera operators would with an actual living animal. To give the panther virtual objects to climb on and interact with, the stadium is also modeled virtually but is invisible.

This tech isn’t baked into an app, meaning you won’t be pointing your phone’s camera in the stadium to get another angle on the panther if you’re attending a game. The animations are intended to air live. In Sunday’s case, the video was broadcast live on the big screens at the stadium.

I look forward to the day when this post is quaint, given how frequently we’re all able to glimpse things like this via AR glasses. I give it 5 years, or maybe closer to 10—but let’s see.

“How video game rocks get made”

Last year I was delighted to help launch ultra-detailed 3D vehicles & environments, rendered in the cloud, right in Google Search:

Although we didn’t get to do so on my watch, I was looking forward to leveraging Unreal’s amazing Quixel library of photo-scanned 3D environmental assets. Here’s a look at how they’re made:

3D: A Rube Goldberg “exquisite corpse”

This fruit of collaborative creation process, all keyed off of a single scene file, is something to be hold, especially when viewed on a phone (where it approximates scrolling through a magical world):

For Dynamic Machines, I challenged 3D artists to guide a chrome ball from point A to point B in the most creative way possible. Nearly 2,000 artists entered, and in this video, the Top 100 renders are featured from an incredible community of 3D artists!

AR: Olympians come to Google search

Last summer my former teammates got all kinds of clever in working around Covid restrictions—and the constraints of physics and 3D capture—to digitize top Olympic athletes performing their signature moves. I wish they’d share the behind-the-scenes footage, as it’s legit fascinating. (Also great: seeing Donald Glover, covered in mocap ping pong balls for the making of Pixel Childish Gambino AR content, sneaking up behind my colleague like some weird-ass phantom. 😝)

Anyway, after so much delay and uncertainty, I’m happy to see those efforts now paying off in the form of 3D/AR search results. Check it out:

https://twitter.com/davidiwanow/status/1419913878222393361?s=20

VFX: An oral history of Terminator 2

One of my favorite flexes while working on Google Photos was to say, “Hey, you remember the liquid-metal guy in Terminator 2? You know who wrote that? This guy,” while pointing to my ex-Adobe teammate John Schlag. I’d continue to go down the list—e.g. “You know who won an Oscar for rigging at DreamWorks? This guy [points at Alex Powell].” I did this largely to illustrate how insane it was to have such a murderer’s row of talent working on whatever small-bore project Photos had in mind. (Sorry, it was a very creatively disappointing time.)

Anyway, John S., along with Michael Natkin (who went on to spend a decade+ making After Effects rock), contributed to this great oral history of the making of Terminator 2. It’s loaded with insights & behind-the-scenes media I’d never seen before. Enjoy!

Adobe joins the new Open 3D Foundation

Back in the 90’s I pleaded with Macromedia to enable a “Flash Interchange Format” that would allow me to combine multiple apps in making great animated content. They paid this no attention, and that’s part of why I joined Adobe & started working on things like integrating After Effects with LiveMotion—a code path that helps connect AE with other apps even two+ decades (!) later.

Point is, I’ve always loved aligning tools in ways that help creators combine apps & reach an audience. While at Google I worked with Adobe folks on 3D data exchange, and now I’m happy to see that Adobe is joining the new Open 3D Foundation, meant to “accelerate developer collaboration on 3D engine development for AAA-games and high-fidelity simulations.”

Amazon… is contributing an updated version of the Amazon Lumberyard game engine as the Open 3D Engine (O3DE), under the permissive Apache 2.0 license. The Open 3D Engine enables developers and content creators to build 3D experiences unencumbered by commercial terms

As for Adobe’s role,

“Adobe is proud to champion the Open 3D Foundation as a founding member. Open source technologies are critical to advance sustainability across 3D industries and beyond. We believe collaborative and agnostic toolsets are the key to not only more healthy and innovative ecosystems but also to furthering the democratization of 3D on a global scale.” — Sebastien Deguy, VP of 3D & Immersive at Adobe.

Adobe “HuMoR” estimates 3D human movements from 2D inputs

This Adobe Research collaboration with Stanford & Brown Universities aims to make sense of people moving in space, despite having just 2D video as an input:

We introduce HuMoR: a 3D Human Motion Model for Robust Estimation of temporal pose and shape. Though substantial progress has been made in estimating 3D human motion and shape from dynamic observations, recovering plausible pose sequences in the presence of noise and occlusions remains a challenge. For this purpose, we propose an expressive generative model in the form of a conditional variational autoencoder, which learns a distribution of the change in pose at each step of a motion sequence. Furthermore, we introduce a flexible optimization-based approach that leverages HuMoR as a motion prior to robustly estimate plausible pose and shape from ambiguous observations. Through extensive evaluations, we demonstrate that our model generalizes to diverse motions and body shapes after training on a large motion capture dataset, and enables motion reconstruction from multiple input modalities including 3D keypoints and RGB(-D) videos.

Mo’ betta witchcraft: NVIDIA turns 2D images into 3D

From LiDAR scanners in millions of pockets to AIs that can now generate 3D from 2D, the magic’s getting deep:

NVIDIA Research is revving up a new deep learning engine that creates 3D object models from standard 2D images — and can bring iconic cars like the Knight Rider’s AI-powered KITT to life — in NVIDIA Omniverse.

A single photo of a car, for example, could be turned into a 3D model that can drive around a virtual scene, complete with realistic headlights, tail lights and blinkers.

Google reveals Project Starline, a next-gen 3D video chat booth

I’m thrilled that a bunch of Google friends (including Dan Goldman, who was instrumental in bringing Content-Aware Fill to Photoshop) have gotten to reveal Project Starline, their effort to deliver breakthrough 3D perception & display to bring people closer together:

Imagine looking through a sort of magic window, and through that window, you see another person, life-size and in three dimensions. You can talk naturally, gesture and make eye contact.

To make this experience possible, we are applying research in computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio and real-time compression. We’ve also developed a breakthrough light field display system that creates a sense of volume and depth that can be experienced without the need for additional glasses or headsets.

Check out this quick tour, even if it’s hard to use regular video to convey the experience of using the tech:

I hope that Dan & co. will be able to provide some peeks behind the scenes, including at how they captured video for testing and demos. (Trust me, it’s all way weirder & more fascinating than you’d think!)

Vid2Actor: Turning video of humans into posable 3D models

As I’m on a kick sharing recent work from Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman & team, here’s another banger:

Given an “in-the-wild” video, we train a deep network with the video frames to produce an animatable human representation.

This can be rendered from any camera view in any body pose, enabling applications such as motion re-targeting and bullet-time rendering without the need for rigged 3D meshes.

I look forward (?) to the not-so-distant day when a 3D-extracted Trevor Lawrence hucks a touchdown to Cleatus the Fox Sports Robot. Grand slam!!

Time lapses come to Google Earth

It’s really cool to see the Goog leveraging its immense corpus of not just 2D or 3D, but actually 4D (time-based), data to depict our planetary home.

In the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017, you can now see our planet in an entirely new dimension — time. With Timelapse in Google Earth, 24 million satellite photos from the past 37 years have been compiled into an interactive 4D experience. Now anyone can watch time unfold and witness nearly four decades of planetary change. […]

We’ve also uploaded more than 800 Timelapse videos in both 2D and 3D for public use. You can select any video you want as a ready-to-use MP4 video or sit back and watch the videos on YouTube

Try the interactive version, and see the video overview below.

See humanity’s impact on the Earth through a global time-lapse video of the planet since 1984.

Of 3D Pets & Molten Pups

The Epic team behind the hyper-realistic, Web-hosted MetaHuman Creator—which is now available for early access—rolled out the tongue-in-cheek “MetaPet Creator” for April Fool’s. Artist Jelena Jovanovic offers a peek behind the scenes.

Elsewhere I put my pal Seamus (who’s presently sawing logs on the couch next to me) through NVIDIA’s somewhat wacky GANimal prototype app, attempting to mutate him into various breeds—with semi-Brundlefly results. 👀

Sketchfab enables easy 3D content migration from Google Poly

I was sorry to see the announcement that Google’s Poly 3D repository is going away, but I’m happy to see the great folks at Sketchfab stepping up to help creators easily migrate their content:

Poly-to-Sketchfab will help members of the Poly community easily transfer their models to Sketchfab before Poly closes its doors this summer. We’re happy to welcome the Poly community to Sketchfab and look forward to exploring their 3D creations.

Our Poly-to-Sketchfab app connects to both your Poly and Sketchfab accounts, presents you with a list of models that can be transferred, and then copies the models that you select from Poly to Sketchfab.

3D dronie!

Inspired by the awesome work of photogrammetry expert Azad Balabanian, I used my drone at the Trona Pinnacles to capture some video loops as I sat atop one of the structures. My VFX-expert friend & fellow Google PM Bilawal Singh Sidhu used it to whip up this fun, interactive 3D portrait:

The file is big enough that I’ve had some trouble loading it on my iPhone. If that affects you as well, check out this quick screen recording:

The facial fidelity isn’t on par with the crazy little 3D prints of my head I got made 15 (!) years ago—but for for footage coming from an automated flying robot, I’ll take it. 🤘😛

AR: Super high-res car interiors arrive in Google Search

Imagine loading multi-gigabyte 3D models nearly instantaneously into your mobile device, then placing them into your driveway and stepping inside. That’s what we’ve now enabled via Google Search on Android:

Take it for a spin via the models listed below, and please let us know what you think!

Volvo: Volvo XC40, Volvo XC40 Recharge, Volvo XC60, Volvo XC90

Porsche: Porsche 911, Porsche Cayenne, Porsche Macan, Porsche Panamera, Porsche Taycan

Fiat Chrysler: Jeep Wrangler 4xE

Guido Quaroni joins Adobe

Awesome Dad-flex: Telling your tiny, Cars-loving kids that you know Guido the forklift. 😌

Granted, it was a little confusing to explain that I knew the voice of the cartoon forklift & that he was actually a brainy Italian guy who worked at Pixar—but it worked. In any case, now Guido Quaroni—who spent 20 years at Pixar & who was always a fantastic host during Adobe customer visits—has now joined the Big Red A:

“I’ve been a customer of Adobe’s software for a number of years, and I always admired Adobe’s commitment to provide top of the line tools to creatives,” said Quaroni. “When I heard about Adobe’s renewed interest in entering into the 3D market, given how much more pervasive the consumption of 3D content is becoming, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I’m excited to be joining the Adobe team to help accelerate and grow their 3D offerings for creatives worldwide.”

I remain proud to have delivered, at Guido’s urging, perhaps the most arcane feature request ever: he asked for per-layer timestamps in Photoshop so that Pixar’s rendering pipeline could discern which layers had actually been changed by artists, thereby saving a lot of rendering time. We got this done, and somehow it gives me roughly as much pleasure as having delivered a photo editor that’s used by hundreds of millions of people every month. 😌

Anyway, here’s to great things for Guido, Adobe, and 3D creators everywhere!

AR: Google & Fiat-Chrysler bring super detailed models to your driveway

Psst—wanna see a multi-gig, super detailed 3D model appear in your driveway almost instantaneously?

I’m delighted to say that our work in cloud-rendered streaming 3D is paying off via this year’s virtual CES show. Per the Google Cloud blog:

As part of Fiat Chrysler’s Virtual Showroom CES event, you can experience the new innovative 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe by scanning a QR code with your phone. You can then see an Augmented Reality (AR) model of the Wrangler right in front of you—conveniently in your own driveway or in any open space. Check out what the car looks like from any angle, in different colors, and even step inside to see the interior with incredible details.

A bit on how it works:

The Cloud AR tech uses a combination of edge computing and AR technology to offload the computing power needed to display large 3D files, rendered by Unreal Engine, and stream them down to AR-enabled devices using Google’s Scene Viewer. Using powerful rendering servers with gaming-console-grade GPUs, memory, and processors located geographically near the user, we’re able to deliver a powerful but low friction, low latency experience.

This rendering hardware allows us to load models with tens of millions of triangles and textures up to 4k, allowing the content we serve to be orders of magnitude larger than what’s served on mobile devices (i.e., on-device rendered assets).

And to try it out:

Scan the QR code below, or check out the FCA CES website. Depending on your OS, device, and network strength, you will see either a photorealistic, cloud-streamed AR model or an on-device 3D car model, both of which can then be placed in your physical environment.

AR_Wrangler-4xe.jpg

LiDAR is magic

…or at least sufficiently indistinguishable from it.

Apple is adding a feature to help blind users detect the presence & distance of people:

I’m super interested in seeing how it may help regular people generate 3D models, though it remains to be seen what they’ll then do with them:

Here’s the capture flow in 3D Scanner App:

New Adobe tech promises 3D & materials scanning

Probably needless to say, 3D model creation remains hard AF for most people, and as such it’s a huge chokepoint in the adoption of 3D & AR viewing experiences.

Fortunately we may be on the cusp of some breakthroughs. Apple is about to popularize LIDAR on phones, and with it we’ll see interesting photogrammetry apps like Polycam:

Meanwhile Adobe is working to enable 3D scanning using devices without fancy sensors. Check out Project Scantastic:

They’re also working to improve the digitization of materials—something that could facilitate the (presently slow, expensive) digitization of apparel:

Come see the AR feature I’ve been working on all year!

I’m delighted to share that my team’s work to add 3D & AR automotive results to Google Search—streaming in cinematic quality via cloud rendering—has now been announced! Check out the demo starting around 36:30:

Here’s how we put it on via the Google Keyword blog:

Bring the showroom to you with AR

You can easily check out what the car looks like in different colors, zoom in to see intricate details like buttons on the dashboard, view it against beautiful backdrops and even see it in your driveway. We’re experimenting with this feature in the U.S. and working with top auto brands, such as Volvo and Porsche, to bring these experiences to you soon.

Cloud streaming enables us to take file size out of the equation, so we can serve up super detailed visuals from models that are hundreds of megabytes in size:

Right now the feature is in testing in the US, so there’s a chance you can experience it via Android right now (with iOS planned soon). We hope to make it available widely soon, and I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Put semi-horrifying ancient creatures in your room through Google AR

I know it’s not the ‘woke’ thing to say, but I hope the world is enslaved by an ancient soulless sentience.” — my Lovecraft-loving weirdo friend

Heh—they’re not all creepy, to be sure, but come browse fun stuff on Google Arts & Culture, view the models in 3D, and if you’re on your phone, place them in your space via AR.

DesignTaxi writes,

Some of the creatures include the Aegirocassis, a sea creature that existed 480 million years ago; a creepy-looking ancient crustacean; and a digital remodel of the whale skeleton, which is currently in view in the National History Museum’s Hintze Hall.

Exceedingly tangentially: who doesn’t love a good coelacanth reference?

Google AR search gets super buggy!

…In the best possible way, of course.

My mom loves to remind me about how she sweltered, hugely pregnant with me, through a muggy Illinois summer while listening to cicadas drone on & on. Now I want to bring a taste of the 70’s back to her via Google’s latest AR content.

You can now search for all these little (and not-so-little) guys via your Android or iPhone and see them in your room:

Here’s a list of new models:

  • Rhinoceros beetle
  • Hercules beetle
  • Atlas beetle
  • Stag beetle
  • Giant stag
  • Miyama stag beetle
  • Shining ball scarab beetle
  • Jewel beetle
  • Ladybug
  • Firefly
  • Rosalia batesi
  • Swallowtail butterfly
  • Morpho butterfly
  • Atlas moth
  • Mantis
  • Grasshopper
  • Dragonfly
  • Hornet
  • Robust cicada
  • Brown cicada
  • Periodical cicada
  • Walker’s cicada
  • Evening cicada.

Fun with Natzke’s virtual Legos

Artist/technologist Erik Natzke has kept me inspired for the better part of 20 years. His work played a key role in sending me down a multi-year rabbit hole trying to get Flash (and later HTML) to be a live layer type within Photoshop and other Adobe apps. The creative possibilities were tremendous, and though I’ll always be sad we couldn’t make it happen, I’m glad we tried & grateful for the inspiration.

Anyway, since going independent following a multi-year stint at Adobe, Erik has been sharing delightful AR explorations—recently featuring virtual Legos interacting with realtime depth maps of a scene. He’s been sharing so much so quickly lately that I can’t keep up and would encourage you to follow his Twitter & Instagram feeds, but meanwhile here are some fun tastes:

Now, how soon until we can create the Fell In Love With A Girl video in realtime? 😌🤘

Google makes 3D ads available to all customers

Now, as throughout my career, I’m trying to remove barriers to creative people making the world more fun & beautiful. Along those lines, I’m pleased that one of the teams with whom I’ve been collaborating has now made Swirl (3D display ads) available to all Display & Video 360 customers globally.

Here’s an example of how they look (apologies for the visual degradation from the GIFfing; I’ll see whether I can embed the interactive original):

People seem to dig ’em:

Nissan saw an engagement rate that was 8X higher than rich media benchmarks for the automotive vertical.

For Adidas, Swirl ads drove a 4x higher engagement rate than rich media benchmarks and had an average viewable time of 11 seconds,The 3D creatives also drove a return on ad spend (ROAS) of ~2.8 for the Colombia market.

For Belvedere The Swirl ads drove 6.5x higher brand favorability and 4.9x higher purchase intent vs. category norms.

To get started creating a Swirl ad, you can upload 3D assets to Google Web Designer and use the new Swirl templates. Brands and agencies can also edit, configure, and publish models using Google’s 3D platform, Poly.

4D printing: 3D shapes that transform

Interesting stuff:

Gizmodo writes,

In essence, the ‘fourth dimension’ represents change—4D printing simply refers to printers that create objects that can transform over time and, in some cases, self-assemble. […]
Kinematics is a system for 4D printing that creates complex, foldable forms composed of articulated modules. The system provides a way to turn any three-dimensional shape into a flexible structure using 3D printing.

[Vimeo]

Some rather brilliant imaging tech from Microsoft

The company’s Photosynth technology has been public since 2006, and while it’s been cool (placing photos into 3D space), I haven’t seen it gain traction in its original form or as a free panorama maker. That could now change.

The new version stitches photos into smooth fly-throughs. Per TechCrunch:

[U]sers upload a set of photos to Microsoft’s cloud service then the technology begins to looking for points (“features”) in the successive photos that appear to the be same object. It then determines where each photo was taken from, where in 3D space each of these objects were, and how the camera was oriented. Next, it generates the 3D shapes on a per-photo basis. And finally, the technology calculates a smooth path – like a Steadicam – through the locations for each photo, and then slices the images into multi-resolution pyramids for efficiency.

Check this out:

Once you’ve clicked it, try hitting “C” to reveal & interact with the 3D camera path. Here’s an example from photographer David Brashears, who captured Mt. Everest during one of the highest-elevation helicopter flights ever attempted:

So, will we see this become more common? It’s the first presentation I’ve seen that makes me want to don a wearable, lifelogging camera on vacation.

Rendering real-world 3D content in real time

MIT is making pure magic:

Check out some below-the-table stills on Colossal.

inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. inFORM can also interact with the physical world around it, for example moving objects on the table’s surface. Remote participants in a video conference can be displayed physically, allowing for a strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance. inFORM is a step toward our vision of Radical Atoms. 

[Vimeo]

Seene: a "3D instagram"?

It’s easier seen (heh) than described, so just check it out. The Verge writes,

With less than 30 seconds of setup after installing the app, you can record and manipulate an object in real-time, and in 3D. It’s like iOS 7 parallax gone wild…

Even with poorly done Seenes, the app’s 3D effect is breathtaking since it uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to alter the perspective of the image accordingly when you move your hand. On the web, moving your mouse on an image alters its perspective.

[Via Tomas Krcha]

World War II From Space

“A stunning 90-minute documentary visualizing key events from World War II from the vantage point of space,” World War II From Space just won an Emmy for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction. Featuring 300 animations and 79 VFX shots, it made heavy use of an Adobe workflow (script writing in Adobe Story, 3D integration with After Effects & Cinema 4D, editing in Premiere Pro). Check out an in-depth interview on how the team made it happen.

WWII 0

WWII 2

I can’t wait for the sequel, World War II In Space. [Vimeo]

Projection mapping + robots

Oh God that’s cool. Just stick with it for a minute:

According to The Creators Project,

The team has pioneered the use of robots that are normally used for manufacturing vehicles, and instead developed software to interface the robots in 3D system Maya.[…] Designed to control camera movement, activate lights, and shift set pieces with ever-repeatable motion, this precision allows the virtual and physical worlds to unite and CG elements to match in real time.

Project creator Gmunk offers more behind-the-scenes perspective on his site. [Vimeo] [Via Nicholas Felton]