Dimensional projects require a close connection between content and technology. Different tools for building and viewing models have very different features and limitations, and because different tools require different skill sets. An expert in photogrammetry may have no experience in solid or surface modeling, and someone with a decade of experience in one program may have never used another. This means that the team members who know the content need to be aware of the technology involved to choose the right tool, whether they build the model themselves or not. On the other side, the team members building the model and handling the technical aspects need to be aware of the data and source material used to create the model, as they need to avoid making assumptions about structure and content that could be misleading in a final model. The actual structure, materials, textures, and regularity of the content can sometimes be important in the model, even if they are not directly visible in the original or in the final model. For photogrammetry, the content expert will need to advise on issues like which details are most important to convey.
For this reason, it is wise to explore what expertise or resources are available before deciding on a tool, especially if you cannot commit to learning to make the model entirely yourself.
A content expert. For photogrammetry, this person is probably someone who knows the archival record, and who can advise on issues like which features are essential to capture and help guide the use of the final model. For solid or surface modeling, this person will need to be involved throughout to help make decisions about how to translate materials, structure, and surfaces into coded values.
An interpretation/curatorial expert. This person may be the content expert as well, but their role here is to decide how to explain the model to its end users. This might include deciding on what text or audio needs to be included, deciding on how to “tour” users around the model, or determining what other kinds of media need to be added.
The person who creates the model.
For photogrammetry, this person will take the photographs and stitch them together in the modeling application. This person does not need to be a photographer, as the skills used for artistic photography can lead to photos that are not useful for photogrammetry. However, they should have a good command of camera equipment: they will need to know how to control white balance, keep exposure as even as possible, and keep track of which photos have been taken to make sure to get even coverage of the subjects. They will also need to know or learn to use software like Metashape (formerly Photoscan).
For solid or surface modeling, this is someone who has experience in the particular software you have chosen for your project. The needs of the subject should determine the choice of modeling tool, so make sure that the person in this role has experience with the correct program and not just with modeling in general. There are tutorials and classes available in person and online for most modeling programs, so this role could be taken on by someone inexperienced if you allow sufficient time for them to acquire skills. Someone with experience in one modeling program will typically learn another one more quickly, but don’t change programs just to fit the skill set that is easiest to find.
Someone to record the choices you make in the project. Modeling projects typically involve a lot of decisions on the fly that starkly affect the final outcome. Make sure that someone has been assigned to keep track of these. Ideally, this should not be the same person who is trying to troubleshoot the model, as it can make it a lot harder to solve problems if you’re stopping to create documentation (if this needs to be done, consider using voice memos or other recordings so that the person doesn’t have to stop to write notes in the moment).
Other roles that may be needed:
Technicians with certain kinds of skills in object scanning or testing to determine unknown materials or components.
Animators or videographers who can help turn the model into a larger story or experience.
Web designers or web programmers who can help embed the model into a larger website, or programmers who have worked with virtual reality projects.
Continue Reading: Budgets & Funding for Dimensional Projects