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Interview: Guilherme Rambelli

DICE LA 3d artist, Guilherme Rambelli, tells us about the incredible power of photogrammetry, what you need to start using the technique yourself and where he thinks it will go in the future…

Guilherme's Artstation

Adam

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Guilherme

My name is Guilherme Rambelli, I’m from São Paulo, Brazil. My first contact with 3d art was back in 2010, when I started to study game art at school in my hometown in São Paulo.

My first opportunity in the US was working on TV Commercials, promos and in the VFX industry, until I finally had the chance to join 8i Labs. The company was founded by former WETA Digital employees to research new ways to digitize human beings as content for new media such as VR, AR, etc.

In 2017 I had the pleasure to join DICE Los Angeles as a 3d artist, working on games in the Battlefield franchise.

Guilherme Rambelli dice 3d work

Adam

Tell us about your art and the things you like to make.

Guilherme

When I started to work with 3d I was very passionate about Hard Surface modeling and sci-fi in general, especially the Halo games. But when I had my first contact with 3d scanning with LIDAR back in 2013 and photogrammetry in 2014, I became extremely interested in learning more about the technique and how to turn that into a practical workflow that could be used for real-time engines. Today I spend most of my spare time going outdoors and scanning different natural biomes as a hobby and as my main focus area at work at DICE LA.

Guilherme Rambelli battlefield 3d work

Adam

You’ve just done a Gnomon Workshop on photogrammetry, could you tell us about that. What is photogrammetry? Why should people be excited about learning it?

Guilherme

Photogrammetry is a technique that involves taking multiple pictures of a determined object and, with the help of special software, reconstructs the object from the pictures into a fully textured 3d asset. All the software does is analyze the photographs, and create coherent points in 3d space to give shape to the 3d asset.

In the Gnomon Workshop - Creating Assets for Games using photogrammetry, I demonstrate the full workflow from acquiring the image sets in the field, to the low-poly geometry and texturing as well as finalizing the asset in engine with the help of visual development tools in Marmoset Toolbag 3.

Guilherme Rambelli 3d battlefield game

Adam

How and when does it fit into standard workflow? What tools and techniques are necessary?

Guilherme

Photogrammetry is a technique that has been getting a lot of attention from many different studios in the game industry and Virtual reality as well. As different industries start to converge into real time engines, the demand for photoreal content has increased; photogrammetry is the sweet spot where assets can be quickly generated without hurting quality.

Photogrammetry only consists of a couple steps; data acquisition, data processing, clean up, finalizing and polish. The main tools and gear that I use in my current workflow are:

  • A camera able to shoot RAW images and a Color Chart for the image capturing.
  • Once the images are converted to DNG, Adobe Photoshop to color correct using Camera Raw plug-in (If you try to open a DNG file in Photoshop, the first window that displays all the RAW controllers is the Camera Raw.)
  • RealityCapture is my preferred photogrammetry software for reconstructing and texturing photoscanned assets.
  • ZBrush and Maya for creation and clean up of my Low Poly models.
  • Unity Delight tool in Unity 3D Engine to remove highlights and shadows from my Base Color map and Substance Painter for all PBR maps at the end.
Guilherme Rambelli battlefield dessert dice

Adam

How difficult is photogrammetry to implement? For someone who is curious about using it, where should they start?

Guilherme

Like any other technique, photogrammetry is a process that requires practice, trial and error, and the more an artist become familiar with the process. With practice he or she will be able to foresee things that may or may not work well as a scan, for e.g. reflective surfaces, Occluding objects like tree leaves.

Photogrammetry can be used for the majority of the content that needs to be built for any project based on reality, but can be more effective in organic shapes, and noisy surfaces e.g. rocks, cliffs, architecture, ground textures and surfaces. Different techniques like Photometric, can be more effective for vegetation assets and data acquisition.

I believe a good start for photogrammetry is to try scanning a simple asset. That could be a rock in a park or a trash can on the street. By attempting to scan a full asset you’ll learn everything that you are missing from the capture process, this will become clear when the software is unable to reconstruct all the angles of the asset.

Reality capture has a Demo version available for download that can be a good start for someone that wants to take some pictures casually and see how things turn out.

battlefield chasing tides Guilherme Rambelli 3d

Adam

How do you think this technique will develop in the future? What would you like to be able to do with it that you currently can’t?

Guilherme

I believe Photogrammetry will become more and more relevant and it starts to be introduced in different areas of the art production in games and movies. It won’t be used exclusively for characters and natural assets; we’ll start to see more effective use in non-organic assets with fewer technical difficulties.

Today photogrammetry requires a reasonable degree of technical knowledge and technique to result in a good end product, so the more this technique grows, as it is in the industry, the more streamlined options will be available and less jumping around between different software will be required.

Adam

What software or techniques would like to learn in the future?

Guilherme

As I started to learn more about PBR and 3d scanning I realized that one of the most important, if not the most important, areas in a production pipeline is lighting and visual development. That is the one area that I would like to learn more in the future and learn more about what can contribute to what we consider visually pleasing.

Adam

What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?

Guilherme

I believe the project that I was most proud was the project Buzz Aldrin - Cycling Pathways to mars. In this project I had the pleasure to work as Art Director and first and only artist in the project at the beginning; before it gained a bit more attention within the company and became something that we were all proud of.

I wasn’t necessarily proud because of the visual quality we achieved in the project, but because of how much effort we put into a small scale project. It turned out to be an incredible journey that went on to winning a Webby Award 2018 for Peoples Choice and be selected as a finalist for the Primetime Emmy Award 2016- 2017 for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Media.

Guilherme Rambelli dice 3d dessert scene

Adam

What’s your dream project?

Guilherme

I believe I already work on my dream project, working collaboratively with the team at DICE LA. I hope to work on many other projects there with a team very passionate about its craft, and that keeps trying to improve independent of the results of our last project.

Adam

What can we expect to see from you next? Any cool projects we should look out for?

Guilherme

After the release of my last Gnomon Workshop, I intend to release a series of small lectures in my Gumroad store, where I will be showing different techniques using photogrammetry to create tileable 3d assets, tileable textures, Biome kits and a quick run through the workflow of Substance Designer Photometric workflow.

Guilherme Rambelli indoors 3d work

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