Microscribe G2

Community Forums/Developer Stations/Microscribe G2

Knotz(Posted 2003) [#1]
does anybody has some experience with this 3D digitizer?
Is it usefull, reliable and easy?


TheMan(Posted 2003) [#2]

jhocking(Posted 2003) [#3]
Microscribe is a tool to trace over the surface of a physical object (eg. a sculpture,) resulting in a 3D model in the computer which looks exactly like the physical object. I've never used one however. I do know that the Microscribe G2 is used by modelers in big studios like ILM and Pixar so it must be useful but that says nothing about how easy/hard it is to learn/use. Also, it seems likely to me that it is only useful for creating high resolution geometry for cinematic use, not low-pol stuff for games.

ragtag(Posted 2003) [#4]
I've used a Microscribe a few years ago for film work. It's a lot of work to do (drawing lines on the model, plotting and tweaking), an your real life model needs to be reasonably big if you want to get accurate results. We spent a lot of time tweaking the model on the computer after it was scanned/plotted. For game work, I wouldn't see much of a point in using a Microscribe at all. You've got so few polys to work with, that it would be quicker and easier to do in just about any poly modeler.


Knotz(Posted 2003) [#5]
We had an demo last week of the microscribe G2. Sleek looking unit. But we also started looking at Maya and it's more likely we'll go for Maya.

mearrin69(Posted 2003) [#6]
One of these things is not like the other? How do you mean you chose Maya over microscribe? You are talking about Maya (modeling and animation software) from A|W, right? Seems like they are complimentary products...just curious how you meant this.

Knotz(Posted 2003) [#7]
Well, the idea was using a scanner instead of an expensive 3d modeller. My collegue is a wiz with clay so we thought it would be better to make the models in clay and then scan them. However the solution didn't seem practical. The Microscribe is marvelous piece of engineering but IMHO it's only used when you have an artist AND and 3d animator. In our case it is one person.

Rob(Posted 2003) [#8]
Well the modeller is and will always be better value than the scanner. Scanners really only have use in tracing existing 3D objects with pinpoint accuracy. Even then it needs tweaking.

You can't beat a trained artist in front of Maya. That sorts out most problems :) Now if only I could afford Maya...

jhocking(Posted 2003) [#9]
Not to dispute your decision (I have no input one way or the other) but you aren't choosing Maya instead of the Microscribe, you are simply choosing not to purchase the Microscribe. It's like saying you are choosing a car instead of the optional sunroof; one is designed to enhance, not replace, the other. In your case you will need a 3D art tool (Maya being one good option) whether or not you get a Microscribe.

mearrin69(Posted 2003) [#10]
I see your point, though. I suppose it depends on your talents.

Knotz(Posted 2003) [#11]
jhocking: Yes you're right.

We finished our first project with a good profit. So we're thinking in investing some of the money we made in a set of tools. We used Quark, Photoshop and Blitz3D. The artist has a good feeling about photoshop and maya. I, personnaly, am evaluating/looking at some other 3d engines (cipherengine and powerrender).

c5ven(Posted 2003) [#12]
i've dealt with point cloud data in product design. REAL mess that stuff was.

couple years ago the data was really only reference. apps to clean it up and convert to NURBs surfaces were super expensive and not all that good. all the little imperfections commented on above really screw things up.

btw, a quick check of their site indicates the need for not only a 3D app (like Maya or PRO/E), but a plug-in to "connect" the 3D app to the device (Maya's is $495). and if you check out their Maya plug-in data sheet ( http://www.immersion.com/pdf/ms_connections_maya.pdf ), you'll note that you only get digitized curves (no surprise - note my earlier comment about NURBs surfaces). good luck creating the surface afterwards! may as well build from scratch unless you're reverse engineering a shape (maybe something you bought). if someone is sculpting something first tho, he's probably capable of generated 2D layouts which can be imported as image planes and used for reference. LOTS cheaper.

good you chose the 3D app first.

ragtag(Posted 2003) [#13]
On our production here we have a guy that's a great sculptor/model maker, but doesn't know much about computers. He models the characters in clay (cernit), and then we simply take side/top/front/back photos of the figures and use those on planes in Maya as reference for the other modelers. Works great.

When I used the Microscribe, we used a beta version of Rhino (this was before Rhino 1.0), which would get us curves we could then make surfaces from and import into SoftImage3D. We didn't use point cloud data, as we were going to use NURBS for the models. (Point clouds was an option too, but I imagine they would be a mess to work with).

As a side note. What some of the big boys do for feature film work (like LOTR), is use a laser scanner to scan in a high res version of the model. They then build a lower resolution model beneath, and run a script that find the differences in the surfaces and converts that into a displacement map. I guess something similair could be done for game characters, where you build a higher res model and bake the details into the textures of a lower res one.


Knotz(Posted 2003) [#14]
ragtag: That's great idea.