Meet the Masters: Geoffrey Marchal

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Introduction

My name is Geoffrey Marchal and I am currently living in Belgium (Wallonia) in the south of Brussels. I lived for 7 years in Denmark close to Copenhagen and one year in Pensacola, Florida (USA). I’m a 3D scanning enthusiast and I’ve published hundreds of 3D scans on Sketchfab. My background is in biology; I have a Ph.D. in environmental science and am currently working at a pharmaceutical company. My passion for 3D modeling and 3D scanning date from long ago (about mid-1990s) and has never left me. I worked with POV-Ray, 3D Studio and 3ds Max, XSI, Amapi and finally landed on Blender 3D in 2009. I have always been interested in 3D scanning and motion capture but it felt like an impossible dream until the release of the Kinect. After first using it for motion capture, I quickly realized I could use it for 3D scanning! This led me to photogrammetry in 2014 and I have been using this technique since then. That was the time when my passion for 3D scanning met my other passion… archaeology and history.

I have been wandering, strolling in the museums of Copenhagen and Brussels for several years to capture as much as I can of cultural heritage. I have worked on several projects that have required the digitization of small- to medium-scale models, mainly sculptures and other archaeological items in museums. The goal behind this appetite for 3D scanning is to share with the world all these artifacts from the past. Most of the museums are still very far from people in their own country and many countries do not have any museums. By digitizing all of them (or at least as many as I can), these artifacts become accessible to a larger audience as long as that audience has internet access.

Doing photogrammetry on your own in a museum does not require any specific skills or equipment except an appropriate camera (good quality and not too heavy). I personally use a FujiFilm X-M1 (no product placement). It is about 0.5 kg (1lbs), 16 megapixels, good in low light, easy to use, has good auto and manual modes, and you can take more than 2000 pictures with one battery charge!

Expertise

My expertise is mainly in photogrammetry with a touch of 3D scanning. About 7 years ago, I taught myself how to use the Kinect. I did some scanning of horses’, dolphins’, and other mammals’ skeletons in the storerooms of the Zoological Museum of Copenhagen. One year later, I taught myself how to use photogrammetry, first with 123D Catch, Memento Beta, ReMake, and ReCap Pro. After several years using that software, I moved to RealityCapture and finally 3DF Zephyr Lite. All those programs were either free to use or very reasonably priced (about a couple of hundreds of dollars). I scanned for my own entertainment at several museums in Copenhagen (SMK – National Art Gallery, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, National Museum, Thorvaldsens Museum) and in Brussels (Museum of Art and History, Autoworld, Royal Museums of War and Military History, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium). About one year ago, I started to 3D scan common props and furniture as much for my own entertainment as my desire to learn new skills.

How I use Sketchfab

At the very beginning, I was just amazed to do some 3D scanning by myself and see the scans on my own computer screen. But I quickly had an urge to share my work. I was 20 years old when I saw the rise of the internet (1994 in Belgium), and, very naturally, I wanted to share all my work on the internet. Sketchfab was the obvious solution in 2014 and still is! I was impressed by the quality of the website, the power of the 3D engine, and the overall easy-to-use interface. Furthermore, Sketchfab has a free basic account that freelancers can use! And that was (and still is) a great selling point for people and organizations to use Sketchfab.

Sketchfab has never failed me and has never stopped improving itself (longer model descriptions, annotations, helpful Forum, downloads, PBR materials, improved search functionality, and the list goes on and on!). I mainly use the website to share my own models and make them free to download so that a large community can not only enjoy looking at them, but also use them for their own projects. This is really my favorite part of Sketchfab: the ability to see, share, and use millions of models for your own creativity and learning!

Work for the Sketchfab Masters

My primary project at the moment is to feed Sketchfab with as many 3D models as I can. From museum-based cultural heritage to props from everyday life (as much as a heavy-duty vehicle is a daily life prop. I mean seriously, who doesn’t commute with that?). Additionally, I am present on Discord and try to answer questions about 3D scanning when I can.

About the author

Geoffrey Marchal

3D scanning enthusiast, Sketchfab Master



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