News in 3D: Transporting Audiences Using Reality-Capture Technology

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.02.27 PM.pngThis reality-capture stuff is trippy. Using the Trnio app, I made a 3D model of a municipal garbage can on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 57th Street in Manhattan, about a block from my office. And using the Game Avatar app, I made a quasi-3D model of my head. The app scanned only my face and filled in the rest, so it wasn’t really a 3D scan.

I could think of at least a few ways that this kind of reality-capture technology could help tell news stories. When a new bridge is being built, for example, one phase before construction is for municipal engineers or private contractors to create a miniature model. Because these are often scale models, they could be scanned and reproduced digitally so that viewers could get a glimpse of what the bridge might look like from their vantage point. The same could be done with new skyscrapers or sports stadiums.

Using aerial photography, virtual models could be made of virtually any location of interest: a war zone, a walled-off city like Pyongyang, an African jungle where elephants are slaughtered for their tusks, the site of the Olympic Games.

It seems clear that field testing the making of a virtual model from a miniature model would be easier and less costly than field tests involving flyovers. Some of that extra expense could be minimized using unmanned drones.

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