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SCAN IN A BOX
Guide to the Ideal 3D Scan

Part I – General considerations

This document is a guide for the person that approaches for the first time to the world of 3D scanning. The advices contained in this document are general guidelines to optimize the scan result obtained with the 3D scanner. These tips are strictly connected to the technology that Scan in a Box uses: the active Stereo Vision 3D scanning. Therefore they are generally valid for all the 3D scanners of the same category, with some of them specifically adapted to Scan in a Box and IDEA.

Structured Light Technology

The active Stereo Vision Structured light technology is an optical 3D scanning method to acquire the geometry of a physical object. A video projector lit up the object with different shaped patterns that encode the different spatial positions (ref. fig. 1).

Figure 1: light patterns projected on the object during the 3d acquisition.Figure 1: light patterns projected on the object during the 3d acquisition.

Two cameras, in a stereo configuration, store the images of the scanned part and the software elaborates them to produce two coded images (ref. fig. 2).

triangulation geometry of the camerasFigure 2: top view of the triangulation geometry of the 3D Scanner.

A Range Image is then obtained through triangulation. The Range Image (ref. fig. 3) is a kind of image which contains the 3d coordinates of the object surface.

Range ImageFigure 3: Range Image.

3D Model generation

In order to achieve a complete 3D model, the whole surface must be acquired in different frames that must be aligned and converted in a triangular mesh, the digital model. (ref. fig. 4).

a complete 3D digital model
Figure 4: a complete 3d digital model (Mesh) shown by the ShareMy3D web platform.

TIP!
A good optical set-up and good calibration effects a good 3D model generation. This setup steps have to be performed at the first 3D scanner usage and afterward only if you change the field of work, as described in the Quick Start Guide (ref. fig. 5). It's strongly advised to follow the Quick Start Guide step by step.


Quick Start Guide
Figure 5: preview of the Quick Start Guide included in the box.

Optimal Scans

In order to obtain an optimal 3D reconstruction the following factor that might influence the result of the process must be taken into account:
  1. the environment light;
  2. the object characteristics such as material, color and shape;
  3. the background.

Environment light

The ideal condition of environment light for the 3D scanner usage is that of a room with a normal day light, in which the only artificial light is the one reproduced by the projector of the scanner (ref. fig. 6).

optimal light illumination
Figure 6: example of a scene with a perfect light illumination.

It is recommended a medium intensity and homogeneous light, it should not point neither directly on the scene (ref. fig. 7) nor to the 3D scanner (ref. fig. 8.).

light focused on the object
Figure 7: example of a light condition to be avoided: a light pointed directly to the object.

light focused on the scanner
Figure 8: example of a light condition to be avoided: a light pointed directly to the scanner.

It is likewise important not to have shadow projected to the object (ref. fig. 9).

a shadow on the object
Figure 9: example of a light condition to be avoided: a shadow projected to the object.

The direct sun light may cause some problems if it interferes with the projector light, therefore it is better to avoid the scanner usage in rooms in which the sun light is directed on the scanned object. It is really important to have a controlled environment light, in this way a not optimal scan output can be avoided. These are some issues that comes from an unfavorable light environment:
  1. waves caused by some light reflected on the object (ref. fig. 10);
  2. roughness on the scan surface that are caused by overexposure (ref. fig. 11);
  3. a scan with orange peel effect, that is called “noisy”, when the projector light is lacking compared to the environment light (ref. fig. 12);
  4. in the worst case, a scan with a lot of missing part that leads to holes on the surface of the digital model (ref. fig. 13).
The 3D scanner usage in outdoor environment is not recommended unless to operate during the night.

3D acquisition with waves on the surface
Figure 10: an example of 3D acquisition with waves on the surface.

roughness on the scan surface;
Figure 11: an example of 3D acquisition with roughness on the scan surface.

orange peel effect on the scan surface
Figure 12: an example with orange peel effect on the scan surface.

3D Scan with missing part
Figure 13: an example of 3D Scan with missing part.
TIP! The exposure time, that controls the right amount of light absorbed by the cameras, is a preset parameter in IDEA the Software. In the extreme cases in which the environment light is an obstacle, it is possible to manually adjust the exposure time of the cameras, lowering or increasing the counter and create a more favorable situation.

In the following images is shown an object framed by the cameras in the proper light conditions with several level of exposure: lower exposure (ref. fig. 14), normal exposure (ref. fig. 15), and higher exposure (ref. fig. 16).

low exposure acquisition
Figure 14: example with low exposure of the cameras.

normal exposure acquisition
Figure 15: an example of normal exposure of the cameras.

high exposure acquistion
Figure 16: an example of high exposure of the cameras.

PRO TIP! Changing the exposure time is also useful to acquire the very dark details which cannot be acquired with a normal level of exposure (ref. fig. 17-18).

live view with an improved exposure level
Figure 17: live view of the object with a normal exposure level and with an improved exposure.

3D Scan with an improved exposure level
Figure 18: 3D Scan of the object with a normal exposure level and with an improved exposure. Please notice the improvement in the darkest part of the hair.

Object features

There are some kind of materials, colors and shapes that cooperate perfectly with the digitization procedure and others that have some critical issues.
- Material
Object with a uniform and opaque surfaces are the most suited object to be scan. This is because the light creates well contrasted patterns on their surfaces. Good examples of this objects are: chalk, clay, opaqued sandblasted surfaces.
Shiny, polished or reflecting features create complexity during the acquisition. This difficulty is given due to the complete reflection of the projector light by the object. Similar kind of problems can arise with transparent or translucent material. In these materials the light pass through the surface of the object and this does not allow the formation of the patterns on the surface. Some of these not advised materials are: mirror surfaces, glass and transparent surfaces, shiny and metallic surfaces.

TIP! It does not really exist a surface that cannot be scanned. In order to scan an object that has the just described difficulties, it is enough to spray it with some professional coating spray. The white coat will allow the proper pattern creation on the scanned surface, and it will be easily removed when the scan is over without any harm to the object. Another option is to use a powder, for example the talc.
- Color
There are no limits in the color of the object that can be scanned, even though the ones that gives better results are the light colors. It is not recommended to scan a model with a completely black or very dark surface, since the projected light will be absorbed by the object and the cameras will not acquire enough data to create the 3D model. In this case, the scans will be noisy (orange peel effect).


TIP! The default setting for the filter “Surface color” is a medium shade. However is possible to change this value and select lighter or darker shades. In this way the threshold of the filter can be customized to eliminate the area of low interest (ref. fig. 19).

3D Scan of the object with different grey levels
Figure 19: texture view of the 3D Scan with Grey before and Very Dark after. Please notice the improvement in the darkest part of the hair.

PRO TIP! If after the first scan, the 3D image color is not like the real model and it's not good enough (ref. fig. 20), it is possible to delete the result and start over by performing the Color Calibration procedure (without doing the full optical set-up and the scanner calibration) (ref. fig. 21).

Figure 20: 3D scan with texture before the color recalibration.
3DScan after the color recalibration
Figure 21: 3D Scan with texture after the color recalibration.

The Color Calibration is conditioned by the environment light where the scan is taking place. The condition must be verified as optimal before proceeding. It is advised to execute the Color Calibration before to start the scan sequence, otherwise color differences can be observed in the overlapping areas of the 3D scan (ref. fig. 22-23).

 3D Scans with different shades in the textures
Figure 22: examples of aligned 3D Scans with different shades in the textures.

3D Scans with homogeneous shades in the textures
Figure 23: examples of aligned 3D Scans with homogeneous shades in the textures.

- Shape

The shape of the object can condition the scan output. In this case of complex shape, a special attention must be given to the holes or cavity present on the object surface, hidden faces or undercuts. In these cases, it is recommended to take a bigger number of scans varying the point of view and eventually remove the outlier points through the commands available in IDEA the Software. In order to get a clear scan, it is essential that the object doesn't deform or move during the scanning procedure. Any possible vibration of the object during the acquisition phase will result in strong undulation and missing parts on the 3D image. An object that deforms will also produce alignment issues and a flawless 3d model cannot be created. For these reasons it is not advised to scan animated object such as body parts, or other objects that can be easily flexed or that changes their form easily such as an extremely soft shoe sole.

TIP! In order to reach the best positions needed to acquire the entire object surface, both the object or the scanner can be moved. It is recommended to take advantage of the tripod versatility, considering that what matters is the distance between the projector and the model, which is easily verifiable in the software with the LIVE mode (using the yellow crosshair) (ref. fig. 24-25-26).

first frame and corresponding 3D Scan
Figure 24: example of a first frame and corresponding 3D Scan.

second frame, with the scanner moved left and corresponding 3D Scan
Figure 25: example of a second frame, with the scanner moved left and corresponding 3D Scan.

third frame, with the scanner moved further on the left and corresponding 3D Scan
Figure 26: example of a third frame, with the scanner moved further on the left and corresponding 3D Scan.

It is recommended to take advantage of the tripod versatility, considering that what matters is the distance between the projector and the model, which is easily verifiable in the software with the LIVE mode (using the yellow crosshair) (ref. fig. 27).

live views of the previous positions of the scanner
Figure 27: live views of the previous positions of the scanner. Please notice the yellow crosshair always above the projected vertical line.

Background

The technology used by Scan in a Box let the scanner to be very selective during the object acquisition. This permit to automatically exclude from the scan part of the surface or external elements, (ref. fig. 28) such as the background of the scene or the worktop.

vista live dell'oggetto, decentrato nell'inquadratura con la presenza di uno  sfondo colorato, e relativa acquisizione
Figure 28: live view of the object, decenterd in the frame and with a colored background, and corresponding 3D Scan, cleaned and without exceeding parts.

In that cases in which the background has color similar to the object, some external points (ref. fig. 29) may be acquired. In this case, a manual selection tool or an automatic selection and cleaning tool can be used to remove these points.

 vista live dell'oggetto posizionato su un piano di lavoro chiaro e relativa  acquisizione
Figure 29: live view of the object, arrenged on a clear worktop and corresponding 3D Scan with an exceeding part to be removed.

TIP! A worktop with high contrast respect to the surface of the object may facilitate to reach an optimal result and can help to easily select which point of view is needed to complete the surface scan. It is recommended to use a dark opaque surface, such as a black mat, as working plane (ref. fig. 30).

vista live dell'oggetto posizionato su un piano di lavoro scuro e relativa  acquisizione
Figure 30: live view of the object, arranged on a dark worktop and corresponding 3D Scan, cleaned and without exceeding parts.