A 3D Question at Easter

This is a letter I wrote to Pixel Corps honcho Alex Lindsay, maybe not the only guy who could get charged up about this, but the only one I know.

Alex,

I’m a regular listener to This Week in Media, and with the arrival of a new computer that can play back large files (finally!), I’m watching, too.

Either this is an old question among 3D artists (sorry) or I’m the first to ask (I’m glad I took the time).

As you may have noticed, the Easter season brings about discussions of the Shroud of Turin, and the pursuit of experts to study it and give an opinion of its origins, all recorded in documentaries. But to me there is a glaring omission, an unasked question, and an unrepresented expert.

The image of the body with the bearded face and long side hair is familiar to us all. But if you wrapped a linen around a face, you wouldn’t get such a photographically flat image, would you? The cheeks would be pulled out to the side, and you’d have more than just a frontal view of the hair covering his ears, if not the ears themselves, spaced about 12 inches apart. You’d also see more top hair. And if you attempted to drape linen over the top and the sides of the head at the same time, wouldn’t there be wrinkles?

I’m visualizing the images I’ve seen of character skins laid out in 2D for painting (for those who don’t have a product like zBrush).

To get such an image as the Shroud, you’d need to support it over the body and stretch it like an artist’s canvas. Then whatever was making the image would have to project perfectly upwards to the canvas, and the effect of the closest body part (I guess the nose) would have to be the same as the farthest body part (the fringe of the hair, or the neck).

There is a guy who ran a photographic experiment using a camera obscura and a silver compound impregnated in the linen. But there was no discussion of the flatness of the canvas. You wrap a body in a shroud, or it’s not a shroud, is it? And when you wrap, you get dimensional skinning, no? Current documentaries (even on PBS) don’t say.

Has anyone ever approached you about this question? Has it ever made any discussion forums that you know of? Why aren’t they coming to you for these documentaries and asking you this question?

Clearly it’s too late for this Easter season. But I wonder if there’s something the Pixel Corps could assemble for next year. Just an idea. And if the question has been hashed around in forums, maybe it needs to break out of the echo chamber and go off on a vision quest.

Helpfully,
Rick Wolff
Putnam Valley, NY

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