What is a Lidar scanner?
A Lidar scanner works similar to a laser distance measuring tool you can buy at a hardware store: It points it's laser at a point and measures the distance to that point. The difference is the Pointcloud9 Lidar system measures close to 1 million points per second while it rotates 360 degrees vertically and horizontally. Once scanning is done you'll have your entire environment measured precisely in 3D (latitude + longitude + distance) up to a distance of 120 meters (394 feet). These individual measurement points together form the point cloud. The overall area of the scan can be way bigger than 120m, though. By using multiple scans from different positions and combining them to one big point cloud a set of almost any size and complexity can be scanned.

What is the benefit in using Lidar 3D scanning for visual effects, film or games?
Lidar scanning has been used in construction, engineering, geo- and archeology for at least a decade now. It is used to survey the topography of a landscape, to measure buildings and to archive and to document historical digging sites, statues, temples, etc. But the 3D scan of a specific location or object can be just as useful for other industries using 3D graphics.

In visual effects it makes:
  • 3D camera tracking much easier and more accurate
  • helps artists to create their digital work in the correct scale and distance
  • recreating a location as a digital asset much easier

In film it helps:
  • to take another look at a location visited during recce without having to go there again
  • find 100% accurate camera angles and focal lengths in the computer prior to shooting, even for crane shots
  • to create a 100% accurate previsualization / animated storyboard based on the actual location

In games it can:
  • give the artists creating the 3D level design a perfect reference of specific architectural styles
  • create a library of historical settings
  • provide you with the geometry of a complete village, apartment or city street

Or in other words:
  • It eliminates guessing and helps getting the work done faster.

How long does it take to scan?
Pointcloud9's system is fast to set up and scans at almost 1 million points per second. It takes color photos, too. It will survey and document your entire location from one point of view within 5 minutes as a good reference. Within 10 minutes it will even give you the depth of the seams of a brick wall as 3D point cloud. That's how fast it is.

How accurate is it?
Pointcloud9's system is widely used in construction and engineering and has to provide the highest possible accuracy. It's error is about 0.3 millimeters (about 0.012 inch) in a distance of 10 meters (about 33 feet). As long as you're not trying to measure atoms we're pretty sure it's accurate enough...

That sounds totally crazy!
We know...