1.8.2020 6:17 PM

Design

This hobbyist turned street photos of Tokyo into unreal 3D videos

By stitching together real-world photos, artist Photogrammetrer Eiji creates hyperreal flythroughs of city streets. The results are breathtaking.

A Japanese photogrammetry enthusiast has posted a 3D video renders of a Tokyo street created using only 2D photographs, and the results are incredible. What’s astounding is the level of detail and the complexity of the 3D objects considering the source material.

Kottke spotted the video on the Twitter account of a user who calls themselves Photogrammetrer Eiji. The video was posted on December 25 of last year, but it’s not Eiji’s first attempt. A previous version of the alleyway video shared on Twitter in July 2019 demonstrates how far Eiji’s skills have come.

Breaking down the elements — Photogrammetry can mean a few things, but in this instance, it’s the extraction of 3D dimensions (scale, distance, etc.) from 2D data (Google Streetview images). Prussian architect Albrecht Meydenbauer coined the phrase in the 19th century.

How it‘s done — There’s a broad range of photogrammetry software, some of it free and limited, some of it paid-for and potent. There’s even an add-on for motion-tracking software Blender that can do it. The challenge is time, computing power, and figuring out the right tolerances that’ll create a convincing result.

What it’s used for — Remember the famous bullet-dodging scene in The Matrix? That’s photogrammetry at work. Beyond entertainment, it’s also used in engineering, architecture, geology, archeology, and meteorology. More recently applications include Samsung’s Neon “artificial humans”, and it’s easy to imagine uses for it in the creation of video games, agriculture, and even police identikits.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s possible with some free time and the requisite inclination to try your hand at photogrammetry, check out Eiji’s YouTube channel.