Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite and Unreal Engine (which powers countless games), has just taken its RealityScan app out of beta and made it publicly available for free on iOS. The app allows you to scan real-life objects and turn them into 3D models for use in video games, virtual environments, and other projects.
Video game creation and metaverse building just got a heck of a lot easier.
Creating hyper-realistic 3D models is not something you can learn in a weekend or even a few months. That’s why this app is an absolute game-changer that will alleviate some of the time it takes to design and render 3D objects, whether you’re a novice or a pro.
Everyone now has the ability to be a 3D content creator:
To “scan” an object in the app, you take a bunch of photos of it from as many angles as you can. As you’re walking around the object and photographing it, RealityScan helpfully shows each picture you’ve taken in augmented reality, as well as a heat map of where the object needs more coverage. You’ll also be able to preview your scan right from the app to see how it looks before exporting it to Sketchfab, a platform for sharing 3D models. From Sketchfab, you can bring the model to apps like Epic’s own Unreal Engine. – The Verge
I see RealityScan as one part of the 3D design pipeline. The scans it provides will be a great starting point or reference point to build around. Designers don’t have to start from scratch and can just recreate something already in existence.
It’s not perfect in the sense that it doesn’t work well with objects in harsh sunlight, inconsistent lighting, reflective-surfaced objects, and water. I’m very interested to know what the upper limits are of this app. Can you scan an entire room? Can you scan a whole building? At what point does this software fail?
I should note that Niantic also offers a 3D scanning app called Scaniverse.
The Real Winner
Epic Games is creating a sort of beginner’s onramp into Unreal Engine through the RealityScan app. But the real winner here, in my opinion, will be Sketchfab – which is a library and marketplace for publishing, sharing, discovering, buying, and selling 3D, VR, and AR content.
Epic says everyone who uploads a scan from RealityScan to Sketchfab will get a free year of Sketchfab Pro. – The Verge
Sketchfab partnering with Epic on this app and using its Pro Plan as a loss leader is genius. This will massively grow the number of realistic 3D models available on the Sketchfab marketplace. You can already buy realistic 3D models of real-life things like the Marienkirche, Yankee Stadium, or this vintage Coke dispenser. But RealityScan is going to exponentiate this.
The market for premade 3D assets is so crucial to anyone that designs immersive environments or video games because when you’re dealing with 3D models, the slightest errors in pixel density can destroy an entire space. Therefore, it’s often easier to just buy a premade 3D asset than it is to design it yourself from scratch.
For example, on the last metaverse I designed with Ragzy, we purchased a premade 3D galaxy background for the environment because it wasn’t worth the headache of creating it ourselves.
And this behavior is the norm. Game designers, artists, and XR creators all purchase premade 3D assets. Even Beeple, the guy that sold an NFT for $69 million, is often critiqued for his artistic process of buying models and putting them together. But this is the status quo.
To bring it back around, Sketchfab’s partnership with this app will make their marketplace even more essential to 3D designers of all kinds because of the increase in 3D models available on their site.
Obviously, I’m a big believer in the Immersive Web. So seeing the release of RealityScan excites me for how much faster we’ll be able to populate the metaverse with 3D objects.