An important topic in the cg field that allows to achieve high level of photorealism is photogrammetry. A 3D scan faithfully reproduces any kind of geometric detail including textures which have been already applied to the model.
The first 3D scanners appeared around 15 years ago. Anyway, such scanners only worked with proprietary software and the integration with different software like 3dsMax or Maya, which could have rendered imaged with right lights and shaders, was extremely difficult. The surface created was a cloud of points and when you tried to import it, the 3D software crashed miserably, although you could count on professional workstations. It meant that as archviz artists the tools at our disposal weren’t enough to take advantage of that technology so people had to model the assets manually. For many years the situation didn’t change.
In 2009 Autodesk has decided to invest in this technology taking it to the next level: Autodesk 123D made its appearance on the market. Thanks to a series of photo shootings on the object, its shape could be recreated in 3D: it was photogrammetry for everyone. Since then, computers have become more and more powerful and the RAM limits for geometry management greatly exceeded.
Today photogrammetry can be considered as a technology that can be introduced in a 3D production pipeline without any problem. As a confirmation of this, we have a great buzz around this technology in the VFX world, gaming and ArchViz as well. Although with photogrammetry the realistic effect is strongly enhanced, there is still space for further improvement.
Currently, There is not a one-click solution for the asset creation, which still requires a hard job from the Artist.