Geo Week News

April 2, 2012

Oh, so now laser scanning is video game technology?

It’s good to get a reminder every once in a while just how new laser scanning still is for the vast majority of people. This week I ran across a great little article about the laser scanning of a monument so that it could be reproduced. But what really caught my eye was the headline: “Video game technology used to make replica of Constitution Monument.”

Any engineers or surveyors out there going, “what the…”?

Well, can you blame the editors of the St. Augustine Record for not knowing any better? The city wanted to make a replica or three of the Constitution Monument so they could share what’s thought to be the only original monument to the 1812 Spanish Constitution with Spain (and, well, Cuba, but we’ll get to that). Apparently, someone quoted them a price of $50k to do the work with molding materials. Then along comes Chris Ellis, a dude who went to FSU for design and worked in Florida State’s Master Craftsmen Studios, which makes large-scale replicas of things like football coach Bobby Bowden for the school. He works for Activision now (they make Call of Duty and all sorts of other kick-ass games) and he said he’d bring along his laser scanner and do the work necessary to go from scan to model for free. 

Anyone know where Ellis got his sweet red-and-yellow casing for his Surphaser Basis?

Yay, video game technology!

“Activision uses these laser scanners all the time to recreate real-life places and objects, for use in video games,” he said. “So, we’re excited to be able to use our equipment to help preserve history.” 

I think some people would still be surprised that a company like Activision is using laser scanning “all the time.” When you go to SPAR or even the user meetings, it’s not like video game developers are crawling all over the place. For whatever reason, EA Sports (they’ve declined an interview with me) and other firms in the space aren’t necessarily advertising their use of 3D data capture. Maybe it steals from the mystery or something. But video games represent a very large market and it only stands to reason that game developers will represent a good size of the laser scanning hardware and software market.

As for those replicas, “one of the replicas will be shipped to Cadiz, Spain, the city where the original Spanish constitution was drafted, and another will go to Aviles, Spain, St. Augustine’s sister city and hometown of city founder Pedro Menendez.”

And number three?

The third replica will eventually go to Havana, but will be stored in Miami until Cuba is again a democracy, Seraphin said. 

Yeah, that should be any day now, right? Especially now that there’s a monument waiting for them, the populace will no doubt stage a coup sometime next week. 

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