Around the World in 80 Models: Rio de Janeiro, pt. 2

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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 rejoin visual effects artist Jon Tojek in Rio de Janeiro, where he shows us how he created a model and its environment at the Jardim Botanico.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Jardim Botanico Portal

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 at 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 first scanned model is my attempt at capturing and displaying a full environment with it’s natural lighting. It is a large freestanding stone archway which was the entrance to an old Art Academy that was demolished in 1938. The photoscan was shot with my Sony A7 camera, tripod, and 24mm lens (74 images), while the two HDR 360 panoramics were shot with a Nikon D40, 8mm fisheye lens, and nodal ninja. This archway is located in Jardim Botanico, in Rio de Janeiro.

Here and here are some links to Google Maps Photospheres, that show exact locations with a geotagged panoramic image you can fly around in using Google Cardboard.

On this particular day I went to the park early Monday morning right when the place opened to get there before it became crowded with people. As I searched around for subjects to capture, this one appealed to me because it felt like two separate environments on each side of the arch. In the front there is an open sky, lots of natural light, and the big straight path stretching out in the distance, so I knew that would look great for a panoramic image. Then on the other side there is a canopy of bamboo, which makes a darker enclosed area with streaming light, so I imagined two distinct environments. I processed the two sides separately with Reality Capture software and assembled them together with Maya. Then for the dome I put two spheres together, mapped the two panos, and did a boolean intersection to put it all together. This technique with the sky domes is sort of a cheap fast solution and I did consider making something more perfectly aligned, but since I do this as a hobby here I just went for the finish line and got it uploaded to Sketchfab a day after I shot the thing. One other important technique I am doing here is color grading with Passport color checker in order to get the two cameras to match better. When I shoot the color chart, I make a camera profile for each camera, then bring all the raw photos into Lightroom to do white balance and color profile before exporting as 16 bit TIFF for processing in Reality Capture and PTgui.

Lately my interest is drifting to VR so I am now optimizing models to get them smaller and faster. At this website I have further information and you can always follow me on twitter for more tech and renders.

Panos for the arch along with others from this Jardim Botanico shoot can be seen on Google Maps here.

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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