Variety 411 is transitioning to LA | NY 411. Learn more. ×

Articles >

AFCI/Cognition Present Panel Highlighting 3D Photo Solution For Film Commissioners

By: Marjorie Galas

Photogrammetry seems like a fabricated word, however it is a very important tool, used by the likes of scientists and geologists. In simple terms, it is the means of making measurements from photographs, where exact positions of surface points are recovered.   Some uses of photogrammetry include the satellite tracking of tectonic motions, research of the migration patterns of swimming fish and the flight patterns of birds and insects.

During the Association of Film Commissioners International’s Global Production and Finance Conference, held during April 6-8th 2017 in Burbank, Founder and CEO of Cognition Brian Pope suggested a new use for photogrammetry.  His proposal is one that would benefit film commissioners across the globe.  Before exploring this notion, let’s first understand Pope’s connection to photogrammetry.

Photogrammetry is a tool frequently used at Cognition. A hybrid production company, Cognition is a leader in emerging production and post-production services including virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D scanning. The company, through the use of photogrammetry, has made it possible to create 3D models of virtually any location or environment in precise and intricate detail.

Pope has applied Cognition’s use of photogrammetry to the non-profit organization The Arc/k Project. The Arc/k Project has been building digital archives of cultural treasures around the globe.  In addition to perishable artifacts kept within the confines of a museum, photogrammetry has aided in preserving massive location-based sights that are dealing with the effects of natural decay, vandalism and climate change. Pope has also refined a process of crowd sourcing photos of locations.  Sifting through thousands of images on the internet, Pope, along with The Arc/k Project team members, has been involved in creating 3D replicas of sites devastated by natural disasters and war, such as Syria’s Palmyra Castle, which was recently damaged by ISIS.

Recently, Pope discovered a way the technology he’s refined with The Arc/k Project and Cognition could assist film commissioners in the marketing of locations.  Building detailed 3D models of sites deep in the forest, high in mountain chasms or historic buildings could allow a film maker to virtually explore the terrain, observing if camera cranes and equipment would logistically work within the confines.  The program also provides a full range of seasonal effects on the terrain, giving decision makers a clear understanding of year-round looks and how they might affect a shoot. It also allows for quick navigation to other sites and alternatives, saving time and money for everyone involved.

Pope has successfully used the technology with the British Columbia Film Commission. During the AFCI panel, he presented images of an antique train that, due to a number of factors, had been shuttered from rail road tracks.  The use of the photogrammetry process helped increase interest in using the locomotive.  The renewed desire to film the train had multiple effects: in addition to bringing production to BC, it helped revive the struggling 2141 Collective, a non-profit involved in the conservation and engineering of the train.

“Our work provides a value added opportunity for film commissions to market locations that may be seasonally sensitive and to provide visual effect assets that can enhance a location’s attractiveness,” says Pope in a recent press release. “It can even allow a film commission to market in a way that enables productions to plan shoots from a distance and in virtual reality. Film commissions can expand their inventory of available production sites.”

To learn more about Cognition, please visit: