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How The Vanishing of Ethan Carter devs are using photography to mimic realism

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Developer The Astronauts shared a new blog post today detailing the studio's methods for crafting hyper-realistic environments for its upcoming horror exploration game, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

The blog post details how the team has gone about creating certain objects for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, using photogrammetry to capture its scenery — this technique involves taking tons of photos of objects and locations to get a full 360-degree look at them, and then processing them with 3D rendering software that will help craft it into a realistic-looking in-game model. Using this technique results in an exact 3D replica of the object in the digital space and with a close reproduction of the object's original texture.

"With photogrammetry, we no longer create worlds while isolated from the world, surrounded by walls and screens," wrote The Astronauts' Andrzej Poznanski. "We get up, go out there and shot photos, lots of photos. And then some. Afterwards, a specialized software — we are using Photoscan from Agisoft — looks at these photos, and stares at them until it can finally match every discernible detail from one photo to same exact feature in other photos taken from different angles.

"This results in a cloud of points in 3D space, representing real world object. From there, the software connects the dots to create a 3D model, and projects pixels from photographs to create a texture."

Check out the blog post for a full technical explanation of how the rendering system works, as well as click around a handful of models from The Vanishing of Ethan Carter made using photogrammetry.