Photogrammetry 2.0 – 360 ways to go wrong

When I started using photogrammetry, a year ago, I did understand that 3D models made with it are far from perfect, however, at that moment I managed to take advantage of this to create a weird character for the collaboration I did with Jennet Thomas.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I was going to use this technique again to create a piece for my final show. It made sense as I wanted to create an accurate 3D model from my landscape#13 piece. Since then, I had spent quite a good amount of time making/fixing the 3D model and this has made me also wonder about the challenges inherent to this technique:

180 Vs 360 degrees

One of the first things that I learned is that making 180 degrees single-sided pieces is a lot easier than making 360 degrees double-sided ones. Illumination becomes a nightmare and it is really difficult to get shots from 360 degrees inside my MA studio. I did try to hang the model from above but this did not work thanks to the micro wind currents so at the end I had to change my approach and decided to make chunks instead of a whole piece.

Uneven quality

Another thing I learned from this project is that a number of photos you take on a particular region will affect both the density of the mesh and the quality of the texture,  this becomes particularly relevant when you are making a 360 object as you might get fewer visual references in comparison with flat-shaped pieces like my landscape#12. Stitching up nightmare

Stitching and photoshopping

After creating all the 3D chunks, I imported them into Blender software. I discovered that all spatial references were gone and both the orientation and the scale of the objects was off. After arranging all the chunks I discovered that the lighting around the joining areas was uneven and after doing most of the stitching I felt that the end result wasn’t good enough. I thought that the best way to fix this would be using photoshop in order to fix the textures but this ended up being an impossible task as the whole texture of every chunk is actually a collage of 20 different and overlapping images. AT THIS POINT I WANTED TO KILL MYSELF!!!

Merging textures and reshaping UVs

Finally, after doing a lot of research I discovered that there is a procedure that allows you to bake all different textures into a single one, but before I made this, I had also to figure out how to change the existent UV layout in order to get decent size islands that I might be able to edit in Photoshop. FINALLY, I SEE THE LIGHT!

My reflection

After 3 months trying to sort this out, I feel that finally, I’ve found a workflow that will allow me to produce bigger and more complex pieces. I feel that this process has forced me to change my approach several times and that the limitations/restrictions of this particular technology had had a great impact in the way I plan to make new work, I keep thinking about digital as a medium, I really feel that the way photogrammetry works will have a direct impact on how I create my future pieces.

 

 

The last image – why bother?

On January, I submitted one piece for a competition, it is called “Portrait of my Wife”, at that moment I struggled with the images as I felt that they were no good, this was partially due to that in the past, I took pictures of flat paintings and now I have to learn how to properly take photos of a 3D object.

Days later I was informed that my submission was not successful, so,  After shaking the bad mood, I went back to take a look at the materials I sent, specially the images.

I guess that, because I haven’t seen them in a while, I was able to spot important flaws in the images I submitted, to make it simple, I would say that if somebody does not know my work, he/she will have a lot of trouble to read what my work is about from dose images. This was a breakthrough.

Since that moment I understood that I needed to pay lots of attention to the way I was trying to present my work, specially if they do not know me or my work and if neither my work or me are present for the introductions.

This is why, last week I spend quite a good amount of time on my uni studio, trying to take a good pictures of my latest piece, pictures that might work together to give others enough information to make a decision.

I have to say that it was quite a challenge as I was trying to present both a painting/sculpture and a video.

My reflection:

I have to say that this exercise has raised many questions in my mind regarding the way I document my work, the amount of time I dedicate to this activity and most importantly; am I successful on it?

I must say that I feel challenged, not only by the fact that now I have to document 3D pieces but also that they might exist both physically and digitally.

3D Liquid light – Subverting Black and White Photography

I have to say that It has been more than 3 years since I wanted to do this exploration.

I believe that it was around 2013 when I started wondering about how to project and fix an image onto a 3D surface. At that moment I was doing a lot of screen printing and also was exploring projection mapping.

It wasn’t until this year’s low-residency, that I had the opportunity to go back inside of a dark room (my last time was around 1993). this is how I met John, he is a great technician from Camberwell and he helped me to do quite a lot of photographic weirdly shaped pieces of photographic papers.

This experience encouraged me to take things further, and John was kind enough to introduce me to Hayde, she is an expert on liquid emulsion, and after a few weeks she was able to help me do pretty interesting experiments over a couple of sculptures.

In her words “this was a very successful attempt”, basically because I was able to keep the emulsion on the surface and also because I was able to reproduce bits of images.

This has encouraged me to keep pushing things forward, my plan is to spend most of the following week, devoted to create my first photographic meta-image.

My artist statement – 13-03-2017

I am obsessed with the idea of depicting visual reality in a way that comes closer to how I truly experience it.

I ask myself if visual reality evolves through time and space, why should the image of that reality remain still and flat?

I feel that the depicting potential of the image is undermined by the restrictions imposed by the flat canvas and geometric perspective systems.

I WANT TO SET THE IMAGE FREE TO ACHIEVE ITS FULL DEPICTIVE POTENTIAL

Since I started using digital technologies like 3D modelling software, and Virtual Reality, I realised that, inside these environments, the image becomes malleable matter, a new material full of visual ingredients.

I give shape to this malleable element by exploring the architecture of spatial metaphors e.g. the tunnel, the cave, and the landscape. The end result is a 3-dimensional piece full of visual information. I call it THE META-IMAGE.

Sometimes I leave the META-IMAGE as it is, other times I materialize it through 3D printing and/or sculpture and finish it using traditional media i.e. painting, drawing, and black & white photography.

At the moment, I am also using photogrammetry to build 3D models of the final piece, and then navigate them through Virtual Reality.

Photogrammetry 2.0 – bits and pieces

Since last week, I have been trying to create a 3D model of my latest painted piece; it has been a fun nightmare.

My previous model was quite challenging as it required me to go take more than 400 photographs and required 3 different sources of light to get rid of most of the shadows, however, I only needed to use one side of it so everything worked at the end.

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My new piece is quite different, in order to allow people to navigate it from inside, I have to create a 360 model of it, this sets a bigger challenge for proper lighting and placing on the space.

My first idea was to hang it so a could take photos from all the angles, that did not work because it is impossible to keep it still inside of the studio, apparently, a ghost breeze lives within the room.

Next, I did take lots of images placing the object in three different positions over a plinth, so far I was able to make good enough models from three chunks of the original piece, now I have to figure out how to stitch them.

My reflection:

I think that this “chunk” process might be the best way to go, although it is a bit annoying to put the pieces back together, this workflow might allow me to create bigger and complex pieces without worrying too much about RAM processing limits and might be a modular approach for model handling.

3D printing again

Yesterday I started working at a new place and they gave me permission to print small pieces from time to time, this encouraged me to star using 3D prints again, so I made a small model from an image I want to include on my next piece.

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My next step will be to integrate some of this new prints into the new piece and see how they behave.

My reflection:

At the moment I feel that 3D printing might allow me to include some complex features to my objects, maybe some pieces that need to be precise or that might need a stronger material as a support, the only way to find out is to keep making new models.

Ways of seeing – John Berger

   Recently I was accepted on a peer-to-peer event called Pop-up common room, and one of the things we had to do was to read a book called Ways of seeing by John Berger, I did not read the book although now I think is worth to take a look to it, instead, I saw a four-episode collection of videos on youtube.

I have to say that this was a very positive surprise, and I feel that many of the things said by him resonate a lot with my ideas.

There are particular passages on this videos that I am planning to share at the research discussion due on the 9th of March.

The first fragment is about how we see things and how images are manipulated and transformed by the use of the camera to reproduce them, I really feel that there is a strong link with my research paper.

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At the end of this same fragment, I found a strong connection with my present practice and how images could be used to create space.

The next fragment gains a huge importance within my current practice as I am able to use still images in combination with a moving camera and even sound. I really like it when he talks about the corridor between the viewer and the painting.

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This other little fragment resonates with my idea of the META-IMAGE

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This other fragment from episode 4 also enriches my idea of the META-IMAGE

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My reflection:

At the moment I am quite interested in two specific topics i.e. spatial metaphors and the Meta-image, Berger has given me wonderful insights about images and the way we use them and abuse them, I think I should take a look at his book and also look for references to other authors that reflect about visual culture.

Me, Others and the Space – keeping record

As many humans, I have the habit of collecting images on my mobile phone to keep record, however, I also have the habit of sorting and classifying them. Since I decided to work on three different subjects: me, others and the space, I have done the same:

Me

When I take this photographs I try to explore the possibilities of the self portrait in combination with the context, some times I ask my wife to help me and other times I use my camera to have more flexibility.

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Others

I don’t ask for permission, I prefer to capture people off guard, I specially like to capture people in the city; inside buses, trains, or the street. I also like taking photos of people without getting their faces, their identity.

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The space

I do like to take photographs with a depth vectors, images that might suggest the use of perspective systems, I do like nature and I also like the messiness of the city.

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Big mind – small body

Today I was watching a video of David Hockney talking about his exploration on space, I thought that his questions are pretty interesting but I also think that his approach to a solution is quite “flat” and at some point I wanted to interrupt him to point out a different approach to the problem.

His work really inspires me, and I want to go beyond what he has accomplished. At one particular point (5:50 min), he pointed out that the format made the painting easy to transport, this triggered a connection inside my head, it seems that depicting reality over flat surfaces has a pretty straight connection with what is functional on a physical level, so I started thinking about my research paper and again I found traces of this idea where the physical aspect of reality and therefore our physical body tends to mediate what our mind is able to express.

In another part of the Video (8:07), Hockney says that “two dimensions don’t exist in nature” and then hi tries to explain that it is a problem of scale because if a canvas were huge then it would feel like a mountain, a bit further he refers about how we feel space and says that while standing in front of the Grand Canyon, he felt it like a 3D space but sometimes he could feel it as a flat image.

In another interesting part (13:20), he says that “we see space through time”, I really like this Idea because it makes a lot of sense, how ever, I still thinking about the problem of the flat image.

At the end he talks about how he experienced 3D cinema and how disappointing it was, he also makes a vague reference to Virtual Reality.

My reflection

Although artistic expression might be triggered inside the mind, it has to mediate and cope with the demands of the physical world in order to become physical expression (I am trying to  leave digital art out of this discussion). After doing a research on this matter, I  have got the idea that through the history of painting, physical world has had always the last word on how things are created.and that one of the biggest consequences of this is that painters from the 21th century, are still trying to depict the experience of reality over flat surfaces.

For me this is a mayor concern as I think that it is possible to evolve this way of depicting reality even for static images like paintings.

Big Boy – self portrait video

I started to make a self portrait video. I was inspired to do this after learning to animate 3D characters for the collaboration I did with Jennet Thomas.

For this project I am building several portraits of my self combining different techniques i.e. Photogrammetry, 3D modeling, Sculpture/painting and video footage

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My plan is to build a video with my reflections of what it means to become a grown up / artist and how it clashes with the expectations set for you by others.

This is a preview of the first render: