Around the World in 80 Models: Rio de Janeiro

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Hop on board as we continue our journey Around the World in 80 Models! We began our itinerary at Sketchfab headquarters in New York and are working our way through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and North America. To catch up on past destinations, check out the rest of the Around the World in 80 Models series.

This week we head to Brazil, where visual effects artist Jon Tojek takes us to one of his earliest scanning spots, a skate park in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Skate Pool Arpex

My name is Jon Tojek. My day job is a Visual Effects artist for movies and commercials so all of these tools and techniques are familiar to me, but doing these scans for fun keeps me interested and always learning new things. To introduce myself formally, my demo reel and resume can be found here. In short I have worked in VFX for commercials and movies for over 20 years, focused on Lighting and Look Development on films like Polar Express, Happy Feet, 2012, The Hobbit, Knight and Day, and dozens more. During my time developing all the character shader networks for Monster House using Arnold at SPI, my interest in brute force GI raytrace rendering really exploded and led me to shooting my own HDR panoramic images. Purchasing camera equipment, learning about lenses, filmback, colorspace, propelled the quality of my work, and led me to working on-set VFX supervisor jobs. Once there I learned and used photogrammety as a set reference tool, and the more I play with all of these things, the more clear it is how they are connected and useful in all of my work.

This scan of a skate pool in Rio de Janeiro is really one of my earliest attempts, and surely not my best. People seem to like it, and for sure it is the compelling subject matter, very different style graffiti, and beautiful location. When I see this model I feel a sense of loss, because it really needs to be done again and much better because I have learned so much since this early attempt.

First problem is there is no captured Panoramic HDR image of the sky and surroundings. This extra step I now do with all of my scans. They place the object into a real lighting environment and give a much fuller sense of scale and illumination which will be very important with all upcoming Virtual Reality applications. Once I have captured the full sky, sun, and surrounding light contributors, that allows me to do the “de-light”, or extract light process on the model. This includes removing shadows, and pulling out the color of the sky and sun which are baked into your model texture colors. This is necessary when you plan to bring the model into another package as neutral and relight it with new sources.

You might then say, “Just go back there and shoot again”. Unfortunately I have moved from this city, and more important, is safety. In Rio de Janeiro in general it is dangerous to march around town with two expensive cameras and tripod shooting locations for 30 minutes at a time. When I do scans here I move as quickly as possible, usually capturing less than 100 photos, pus 2-3 panos, and moving along to the next spot safely. This particular spot is at the top of a hill above a public park called Garota de Ipanema, near Arpex which is a surf spot. There are homeless encampments below in the forest, nearby boys cruising area for thrill seekers, and a massive walled military fortress for the Brazilian navy. Never have I ever seen skaters ripping the pool, but during this shoot I was watched closely by pot smoking teen agers who said they “had my back”, but kept asking about how expensive is my camera. Great location, but not a great situation.

Here, here, and here are some google maps panos I have shot around that area, and a short VR 360 film I made in the same Parque Garota de Ipanema.

Stay safe, and keep shooting.

To see more of Jon’s models here on Sketchfab, check out his profile!

About the author


Abby & Néstor

Abby and Néstor are Sketchfab Masters.
Abby Crawford, Ph.D. is trained in and passionate about Roman Archaeology and works as a freelance artifact illustrator and 3D scanner in California.
Néstor F. Marqués is a virtual Heritage & cultural diffusion researcher, and an enthusiast of ancient Rome’s culture.

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