Hop on board as we finish our journey Around the World in 80 Models! We began our itinerary at Sketchfab headquarters in New York and have worked our way through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and North America. To catch up on past destinations, check out the rest of the Around the World in 80 Models series.
This week Sketchfab team member Louis Bidou takes us to Brooklyn to present the final model of the series, a riot of color and art that he captured with fellow Sketchfab team members Corentin and Tom.
New York, New York: Bushwick Collective
My name is Louis. I work at Sketchfab and help the team on everything that is organization and operations related – finance, accounting, legal, as well as our People efforts: recruiting, onboarding, personal development, team building and internal communication.
At the end of November 2017, my friend and teammate Corentin, in charge of business development, started a sabbatical leave and left New York. To thank Alban, our CEO, for the amazing couple years he spent in the team, we wanted to create something special.
The three of us live in the friendly, artsy and unique borough of Brooklyn. We quickly fell in love with the mind blowing pieces of art the streets of our neighborhood offer. For a while, Corentin lived in Bushwick, a part of Brooklyn well-known for its temporary art and colors. We spent many days and nights there, hanging out with friends and proudly showing family the spirit of our territory.
A couple months ago, Sketchfab got a drone for the team. Corentin played quite a lot with it, especially during our yearly Team Event, when he scanned the house we were staying in with the precious help of our cultural heritage and 3D scanning master, Thomas!
You see where I’m going… Yes. We decided to try scanning an entire building from the Bushwick Collective, an incredible open-air gallery, for Corentin to offer it to Alban before leaving.
It all started during a fresh and sunny afternoon, the kind of one you love when you live in New York. We left our house in East Williamsburg and headed to Troutman Street with two other friends and roommates.
We took a careful look at all the decorated buildings in the street. They were all awesome. But some were more easy to reach with a drone. Also, we had to pay attention to the light, as the day wasn’t cloudy at all and shadows were everywhere. As in many streets in Brooklyn, electric cables are also linking buildings as spider webs build bridges between leafs, which was not simplifying our scanning mission.
We ended up deciding on this building on the corner. We particularly liked it because two of its faces were completely decorated, plus the water tank and little room popping out of the roof were also painted. Not many cables on top, quiet streets and no wind, we were ready to rock!
After double checking the settings of the drone, and positioning the four of us so that we were able to always follow the flying camera, Corentin pulled the trigger and got this magic bird flying. He carefully took pictures of the building from most angles: from the top, turning around the water tank, but also from the sides, up where it was impossible to get a proper angle from the ground.
Indeed, at the same time, I was mechanically shooting the walls with my iPhone: of the ground and the bottom, of the middle, and of the top. We ended up with around 200 pictures from any angle.
The funny thing is that almost no one in the streets was paying attention to us. We were not expecting that at all! Some people heard something buzzing over their head, but most of them didn’t even look up – or when they did, they simply smiled and went on. Most of them, but not all of them though. Three young people of around 70 years old, one of them being French and another one teaching social business in top French and U.S. universities, stopped and asked us what we were up to. They were very interested and got the whole process of 3D scanning immediately. As we say at Sketchfab: 3D is really for everyone! I’m pretty sure they offered a drone to their grandchildren for Christmas then.
Super happy with what we managed to capture, we headed back home and realized we were just halfway through. Processing the whole thing and making it look real and gorgeous was still a challenge. I downloaded all the pictures on my laptop and started with removing the blurry and duplicates. Then I did a little bit of post processing, boosting the light and colors of some, reducing the contrast and shadows of others, in order to get a set of quite similar pictures.
And before going to bed, I started the first step of PhotoScan process: aligning pictures. For the next 8 hours, my laptop made more noise than my beloved Ducati Monster and heated up my room to fight one of the first cold days of the year. In the morning, we were only 50% done. It took forever, but the first result was promising. All the pictures aligned properly.
So I moved on to step two: creating the point cloud. Same here, it took me a good 24 hours to get it done. It would probably have been much faster if I used another software such as Reality Capture, or prepared our set of pictures differently, but we are no experts to be honest ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ just 3D scanning enthusiasts! Thankfully, Tom was here to answer our questions and help streamline the process.
We were running a bit out of time. Corentin was leaving on Thursday night, and it was already Wednesday morning! The point cloud looked great. Next, the mesh, and finally, the texture.
Turned out we managed to publish it privately on Sketchfab a couple hours before Corentin had his last meeting with Alban.
The idea was now to move the model to Alban’s profile and turn it public. But as you may have guessed, Alban spends a lot of time on Sketchfab, browsing the last content shared by you guys. So we couldn’t move the model too early. Corentin left for their meeting, and while he was walking to the room, I moved the model and turned it public. Corentin offered it to Alban a couple minutes later. He was very surprised and happy! Mission completed.
It was a lot of fun, just as the time we spent together with Corentin in New York working for this wonderful community of creatives pushing the boundaries of what we may expect from media, story telling and virtual experiences.
I’d like to specially thank and congratulate Abby, who supervised this impressive “Around the World in 80 Models” series, and who has been very patient with me sharing this story 🙂 Thank you Abby!