3D Reconstruction of a human body

See original test subject

Software: MetashapePro and custom tools to control cameras
Written by Paul Bourke
August 2019


The following is a report on the construction of a rig to capture photographs with the intent of using standard reconstruction software to create 3D human models. The application is the capture of athletes, namely swimmers, and as such one cannot rely on sufficient feature points on the subject. The initial approach was to paint the subjects in such a way so as to ensure sufficient feature points. This previous evaluation exercise was a test to both determine the best painting pattern, as well as determine the number of cameras required.

Unlike the 3D reconstruction of inanimate objects, a human cannot reasonably stay still for more than a second or two. The more traditional 3D reconstruction with a single camera would require at least ten minutes, hence the use of a mannequin for the earlier testing. The solution then is to deploy multiple cameras that will be simultaneously triggered. Genlock is not required, the system as designed triggers the cameras to within 1/10 second, easily sufficient to avoid any movement for a subject who is told to stay as still as possible.

The first build of the system is as follows.





System specifications

Number of cameras 48 (4 x 12 cylindrical grid)
Camera resolution 24 MPixels each
Lens 18 mm
Radius, height 3.5m, 3.0m
Connectivity Camera trigger, global contact closure
  USB via 3x20 port USB hubs
Computer OS MacPro, Mojave

Capture and processing pipeline

The typical capture sequence starts by taking a photographic set of a suitably texture rich calibration object. This serves two purposes, first it allows an accurate position and orientation of the cameras to be calculated, second it creates high quality positions in 3D space on the surface of the calibration object.

The second photographic set is a photograph of the space without any subjects, this is used to create masks for subsequent captures with the subject. The following shows a subsequent capture with the outline in white of the mask formed by simply subtracting the empty space image from the subject space image. This is obviously dome per camera for a camera specific masking. Note: the cameras are in portrait mode.

Resulting reconstructed 3D model as plain mesh and textured mesh. Depth maps shown also for each camera view.

While there are a few things yet to do to improve geometric quality from the automatic processes, there is still expected to be some manual cleaning. In this case closing off the soles of the feet, removing partial glasses (clear glass is not likely to reconstruct through a photographic process) and smoothing rough surfaces.

Some further test subjects from the installation and testing phase.


Models on Sketchfab