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What Is 3D Image Processing?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Three-dimensional (3D) image processing is the method by which a two-dimensional (2D) image becomes a 3D image, usually from model building and rendering. To create the image, 3D image processing starts with an object’s mesh skeleton, which contains many different lines and volume data to correctly represent the 3D space. After the model is built, it is rendered and many different 2D views are captured to create the 3D effect. Entertainment and architecture workers use 3D image processing to build realistic models for movies and buildings, respectively. Doctors also use 3D image processing, because it helps doctors visualize problems, whether internal issues with a patient or for research purposes.

To start the image processing, a mesh object is required. This can either be created from an image processing program, in which users create lines to build up the mesh skeleton, or a 3D scanner can be used to capture the information. Regardless of the technique, the mesh skeleton contains volume and depth information that the computer understands, making it into a 3D model. At this stage, the model does not have any color or texture; it is just a bunch of lines that represent the model’s shape and size.

Rendering is the next stage. Designers place colors and textures over the 3D model to make it look realistic. This makes it easier for people to see and understand the image. To make this 3D, the computer takes many different 2D screenshots until it captures every angle, so when the user moves the object, it appears 3D.

The entertainment and architecture industries extensively use 3D image processing to build models for use. Both go through the same process of creating a model and rendering it, but the difference is in how the model is used. In entertainment, the model is meant to move around and interact with actors. Architects use the model so clients can easily visualize the building when it is finished and to make construction easier.

Medical science also makes use of 3D image processing, for both diagnosis and research. In diagnosis, a camera will take pictures of someone’s insides, and the camera will be able to create a 3D model of an organ or section that doctors can examine. For research, doctors will be able to watch and study models to see how they react over time; this also helps newcomers to the medical field visualize how internal parts look.

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