Eyetronics reveal to MI6 how they turned the ice dragsters and helicopters from models to digital objects for the "Die Another Day" computer animators and special effects wizards...

Eyetronics Interview - Digitizing Bond's Vehicles
25th August 2003

When vehicles needed to be moved from physical models into digital cyberspace during "Die Another Day" production, Eon Productions turned to specialist 3D acquisition company Eyetronics.

The company, which is based in Belgium and California, specializes in high-quality 3D acquisition systems that enabled faster production of 3D models, so that the 007 animators and special effects wizards could get their hands on Bond's toys faster than ever before.

Above: A scale model of the Hughes NOTAR from the climatic finale of "Die Another Day"

With deadlines extremely tight on the project, Eyetronics were called in to use its unique ShapeWare system to digitally capture and model Gustav Graves` ice dragster and the Hughes NOTAR helicopter for scenes in which they could not be filmed for real.

Above: The specialist ShapeSnatcher software

Scanning on Location

For "Die Another Day", Eyetronics staff went on location to Pinewood Studios in London to scan scale models of the vehicles from all angles. The scans were taken back to Eyetronics’ offices, where they were processed and assembled in 3D using ShapeSnatcher software. The ShapeWare process starts with ShapeCam, a hand-held scanning system that consists of a digital camera and a specially designed flash device mounted on a lightweight frame. It allows users to freely move around persons or objects, capturing dimensional and texture information by simply taking pictures. ShapeCam can capture objects ranging from about four inches to eight feet in height. A face or head can be captured in about 10 minutes and a full body in approximately 15 to 30 minutes.

Completed 3D models of the dragster and helicopter were output as .obj files and sent to Cinesite and Double Negative post-production houses in London, where they were rendered with Maya software and composited into the appropriate scenes. The model production took just two weeks.
“ Normally we would ask a post-production house to do all the modeling and texturing,” says Sharon Lark, visual effects producer for the film. “It was much more time- and cost-efficient to use Eyetronics’ services. Eyetronics allowed us to dedicate our resources to finishing other work, rather than spending weeks building and texturing the model as we would normally have to do.”
Peter Bebb, a 3D artist with Double Negative, says the Eyetronics scans sped up post-processing of the final 3D helicopter model. “Data derived from the scan allowed us to build and texture the final computer graphic element with good results in a relatively short time frame.”

Realism Without Filming

The final product looks as if the actual vehicles were used, Lark says.
“ Eyetronics provides a fully 3D object that looks photorealistic,” she says.

“We were able to put the 3D helicopter model into scenes in which it would have been impossible to use a real helicopter for safety reasons.”

The portability of the ShapeWare system allowed MGM Europe to supervise the scanning session without leaving the filming site, which is a valuable asset to studios with a constant eye on the bottom line.

Right: Before and after - the ice dragster recreated digitally.


Above: A scale model of the ice dragster

Above: A 3D render of the scanned data model.

“The ShapeWare system allows us to come to the client’s site, which translates into significant time and money savings,” says Dirk Callaerts, Eyetronics’ CEO. “In this case, it would have been expensive to ship the scale models from London. In other cases, we need to do scans of actors and actresses whose time is too valuable to be away from the set during filming.”

Thanks to Eyetronics for their assistance. All images © copyright Eyetronics 2002, used with permission.

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