I’m continuing to work with the material I shot a while ago in the Panoptic Studio – determined for some obsessive reason to try to get the difficult file format that is a PLY to become usable geometry in a 3D editing program (Unity or Maya) and to play (i.e. display and swap out) thousands of frames to create a volumetric animation that can be exported for and viewed in a VR/AR device. Last time, I got the PLY’s to animate in Open Frameworks. While this was exciting, my subsequent goal has been to get this material into a program like Unity or Maya so I can treat these animations – PLY sequences – as another 3D asset and create an environment around these dancers (the subject of my panoptic capture). In Open Frameworks, while I could get the ply’s to display and animate, I could not add other 3D assets such as 3D scans of trees that I created and have edited in Maya.

The question of how to capture, display, and animate point clouds, and generate usable meshes from this data, is a very current challenge in computer graphics. Much of the information I’m finding about this is being published concurrently with my explorations. I’m also discovering a large gap between the research communities and production communities when it comes to this material. One of the most fascinating parts of this project, for me, is exploring this disconnect and inserting myself in the middle of this communication stream, attempting to bring these communities (or at least the work of these communities) together. Can I dive into the (non-arts / creative coding) research while coming up with something actually usable and communicable to the arts / creative coding communities? This is a goal I’ll pursue for my thesis.

I’ve done some smaller experiments with the PLY’s and 3D scans, and I got Vuforia to work to test Augmented Reality:

Here’s an unaltered PLY in Meshlab:

I also got this tutorial to work, to display a PLY in Unity. I hope to continue working on this, and write a script to load and display multiple (ideally thousands, lol) PLY’s to create an animation – and export this for Oculus for the final project. By generating the ply’s as triangles, this creates usable geometry that Unity understands, therefore I can treat these game objects as expected, and will hopefully be able to create a VR project in a fairly streamlined way.

Here’s a screenshot of the Unity editor, with the parameters for editing the PLY in the Inspector: