History of photogrammetry in the Visual Effects Industry

Photogrammetry was invented in the middle of the 19th century, almost two decades after photography was discovered. As an offshoot of photography, its first usage was to create topographic maps as proposed by Dominique François Arago, a former Minister of Defense of the French republic.

Two more decades after, the first attempt to coin the term appeared in a paper by Abrecht Meydenbauer, a Prussian architect.

What is Photogrammetry and why is it important?

Photogrammetry is the science and technology of extracting reliable information from 2D photographic images of real-world objects or terrain features to create precise measurements of 3D digital models out of them. The process involves recording, measuring, and interpreting the photographic images and patterns based on multidisciplinary methods such as optics and projective geometry, hence the term ‘science’ as a description of the process.

Fields like architecture, engineering, topographic mapping, police investigation, video games, geology, and archeology, to name but a few, all indicate the relevance of photogrammetry.

Photogrammetry & film production

Visual effects artists usually revert to this method as an efficient and quick way to replicate props and set pieces so that they can be later added as 3D elements to different shots.In the visual effects industry, it is known as one of the most convenient and hassle-free ways to use tools to scan actors’ faces to create digital doubles. Two main types of photogrammetry are used in the VFX industry: aerial and terrestrial, also known as close-range.

In aerial photogrammetry, the camera used to film the scene is attached to an aircraft, a drone, or a UAV for example. In terrestrial photogrammetry (close-range), the camera is placed on the ground via a tripod or pole, or simply hand-held.

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