A story by Creaform
That’s the (very philosophical) question that was casually thrown on Creaform's team meeting table back about a year ago, as we were trying to find a way to stretch our legs with a project that would pose a technical challenge to our team and soothe our fast-developing Olympic fever, all in one stroke.
We had just read an article from the CBC News Website presenting the winner of the contest to design the 2010 Olympic Winter Games logo. A bit of Internet research led us to a few pictures of the Inukshuk the article mentioned as the inspiration for the logo. Located on the beach at English Bay, close to Stanley Park, the statue has been standing there since 1986. It was first part of the North-West Territories pavilion during the Expo, and later donated to the city of Vancouver. That’s the historical end of it.
As we looked at the pictures, we suddenly realized it’s a pretty big statue. This would require some logistics planning. We decided Jérôme Baillargeon and Mathieu Magnan, 2 experienced Application Specialists, would pay the statue its scanning visit, and Louis-Philippe Gendron, our freshly-hired 3D Animation Artist, would start working on the storyboard and the 3D environment. For the logistics, we called in Julie Martineau, Marketing Writer.
Scanning the stone landmark
Everybody was immediately enthusiastic. Julie proceeded to unwind the kilometres of red tape to get the various permits and licenses for the 3D scanning in the city of Vancouver. Since 3D scanning has not yet made it into the collective public consciousness (this was before the movie Avatar was released after all!), the city officials were a bit confused at first, and did not quite know what to make of the curious request from the Québec City-area company. Finally, they decided to treat the operation as a movie shooting.
Julie located an electrician (required by the city) who supplied the hook-up to the city power grid. She also got a boom truck; it may not seem obvious at first, but the scanner has to be about 30 cm away from the surface to function properly, and the statue is 6 meters tall. Since neither Jérôme nor Mathieu can reach that high even on tip-toes (!), scanning the upper parts would require extra lift!
So on a chilly December morning, passers-by on English Bay were treated to a most unusual sight: men were first seen dotting the Inukshuk with small, round reflective stickers, and then they started pointing Wall-e shaped instruments at the Inukshuk. The team also set up a laser tracker to discreetly take in the area immediately surrounding the Inukshuk. According to the weather forecast, a storm was expected to roll in that very evening from the roaring Pacific. Jérôme and Mathieu worked fast and were able to complete their scan and clean up the area in less than 12 hours! That was fast!
Giving life to stone
Data in hand (well, in computer, actually), Jérôme and Mathieu slept like logs and got back the following day. We had our raw material.
Next, Louis-Philippe was put to work. While Jérôme worked on post-processing the 3D scan model, the tracker data was put to good use in creating the 3D environment for the short film.
A storyboard was set up, and a scenario written. Scanned models were integrated. Sounds were recorded; Julie wrote and recorded a short narrative in English and in French. Jérôme integrated the soundtrack for the film.
Eventually, creating the environment, laying out the movements, animating the Inukshuk, and putting it all together took over 200 hours by Louis-Philippe and Jérôme, with some help from Daniel Brown, another Applications Specialist. Without question, the most exhilarating part of the work was seeing the 3D environment take shape and spring to life on the computer screen. Louis-Philippe, Jérôme and Daniel did spectacular work, of which we are all very proud!
Why did we do it? It was certainly fun to stretch our legs and be creative. In our field of work, reverse engineering and inspection are the most common applications for our Handyscan 3D technology. We have been moving into the multimedia industry, and going the extra mile just might help show exactly how our scanners can be used by animation specialists.
Not to mention the most important reason for scanning an object.
Because it’s there.
Maxime Davignon, Scanning & Inspection Director
Manager for the Inukshuk Project