3D Scanning Services for the entertainment industry. Our locations include Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Montreal. Character scans are available as well as props, vehicles, buildings, or entire environments. We utilize structured-light, LIDAR, and photogrammetry.


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Human Characters

3D scanning is the non-invasive process of replicating any existing person and creating its virtual representation. The end product is a photorealistic 3D CG model. While these models are most commonly used to support VFX work in film, television, and video game production, the possibilities are endless. The process is simple, fast, and efficient.

Pipeline for VFX - 3D Scanning Acquisition and Processing:

TNG VFX 3D Scanning Pipeline

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Every project begins with shooting reference images with a professional lighting setup including DSLR camera/s. We use a light strobe system along with large diffuse boxes to provide soft even light to reduce highlights and shine, and to eliminate shadows. This allows the end-user to be able to use any type of lighting (matching the real world, or its 3D environment counterpart). We have over a decade of experience shooting photography for 3D, which involves shooting many orthographic views for optimal 3D reference which can be imported or overlaid. Pictures can also provide a scale reference as we'll use measuring tape on props and human features to ensure 1:1 scale.

Scan Data

Another assessment to make in the beginning is to decide what type of 3D scanning technology to use. Being veterans in the field, we have experience with structured light 3D scanners, laser 3D scanners, and photography based 3D scanning (photogrammetry). The decision to use one technology over another depends on the size of the object or person to be scanned, the size of the environment, the requirements for an accurate texture to geometry ratio, the material of the object, and lastly the allotted time for 3D scanning on said production as well as the time of day (lasers can operate in darkness - photogrammetry can't operate in darkness). For humans, we primarily use structured light and photogrammetry as some lasers can have safety issues with human eyes.

Low Poly Cage

After acquiring the scan data and reference photography, we use a custom built low poly mesh in the shape of a human head, and we project (or shrinkwrap) this custom built mesh (we call it the Average Man) to the newly acquired scan data. We start increasing the low poly cage's poly count to retain more of the details from the original scan data. We call this stage Retopology.

Normal Map

Having very high poly count 3D objects on your screen can slow down a computer and/or rendering system, and thus normal maps and displacement maps create the illusion of a high poly count 3D asset, whilst allowing the actual 3D asset to have a low poly count. It fakes the lighting of bumps and dents.

Displacement Map

Creating even extra detail in addition to the Normal Map, the Displacement map is an alternative to Normal Maps or can be used in junction. The actual geometric position of points are displaced, creating a great sense of depth and detail, permitting self-occlusion, self-shadowing, and silhouettes.

High Poly Cage

An extension of the low poly cage is the final resulting high poly cage. This 3D model is high poly (millions of polys), and can be rendered without the Normal Map and Displacement Map, and still carry all of the detail. Depending on how the data's being rendered, it's sometimes a preferred luxury. This is where the sculpting detail takes place. And at the final step, the Normal Map and Displacement Map are generated for its low poly counterpart.


3D scans can be supplied with or without color, but for accuracy you want to ensure the geometry and texture line up correctly. The structured light scanners and laser scanners require full re-texturing of objects or humans. Those types of scanners do have some color capturing ability, but certainly not comparable to a DSLR camera with a professional lighting setup. There's much more megapixels to be captured than the ones automatically captured on those devices. Photogrammetry will embed the texture directly into the geometry. We will touch up the texture to ensure there's no blurriness, seams, or low resolution pieces.


The Render is the final step of all 3D artwork. Once your 3D scan is completely processed, you can render it in any environment with any number or types of lights and at any camera focal length. This is what will be composited into the shot. There's an entire host of specializations such as setting up elaborate skin shaders, using sub surface scattering, ambient occlusion, and many other techniques.

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"This is the fourth time Rodeo FX asked TNG VFX for some help with character scanning. The challenges were always high in terms of expectations and in the type of clients. Projects were delivered with such precision of time and quality that there are no doubts in my mind that experience and attention to details make for valuable assets for Nick Tesi and his group."

Andre U Montambeault
Rodeo FX

"Nick and TNG have provided an important service for the Visual Effects team on Sleepy Hollow throughout Season 1. TNG's scanning mobility has proven essential to enable scans to take place on location in North Carolina, to be used later by VFX artists back in California. The quality of the mobile scan models is indistinguishable from the more ideal scanning conditions of in-studio scans. We look forward to future work with Nick and his team."

Eddie Bonin, VFX Producer
Sleepy Hollow - Season 1

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"I just contracted Nick Tesi and TNG for digital doubles required on an ABC television pilot. Nick has been my go to guy when it comes to digital doubles for years now. As always the work was exceptional and in this case he upped his game once more. The level of quality to the scans and textures has grown better and better every time we work together. It’s because of that fact and their ability to turn around the cleaned up data quickly is why I continually go back to Nick and TNG time and time again."

Mark Kolpack, VFX Supervisor 
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

TNG 3D Scans in Popular Media:

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Legion (Marvel Comics TV Series 2017-)

A young man with super powers, who is the son of a prominant Mutant, has multiple personalities which manifest as imaginary people that only he can see and hear:

  • We 3D scanned three characters for use in CG VFX, including one highly irregular character.

 Legion Official Trailer #1 [HD] | An Original Series From FX and Marvel


Campbell's (Soup Commercials)

TNG Visual Effects is proud to present three commercials featuring Campbell’s soup in which we did all of the 3D scanning and photography of the vegetables via Photogrammetry (dozens were captured). Man VS Machine, a design and motion studio created the kaleidoscope effect along with the CG lighting and shading. It was a fun challenge to work with real food to create extremely realistic assets. We prepared for it by picking up a different vegetable or fruit from the grocery store every morning leading up to the project to further develop the quality and technique. An especially hard challenge was the leaf of Kale, which took a different technique to capture.

  Legion Official Trailer #1 [HD] | An Original Series From FX and MarvelWell Yes! Italian Vegetables with Farro Soup 







New Well Yes! Soups










A different type of superhero - an anti-hero, Deadpool has just launched into the theatre with a slapstick style comedy with cinematic violence. This R-rated movie has already broken records at the box office with $132.7 million on Fri-Sun, and is on its way to being part of the top 10 highest grossing R-rated movies domestically. The character Deadpool was initially created in the Marvel universe in 1991 by comic book artist Rob Liefeld, and the witty writer who personifies Deadpool, Fabian Nicieza. Another collaboration these two created is the X-Men team X-Force, which we'd love to see in the cinematic scene as well.

  • 3D scanning was utilized for part of the introduction to be able to marry close-ups, deformations, stunts, and time transformation.



The 2016 Honda Civic - "The Dreamer"

The all-new 2016 Civic Sedan has been completely reimagined with sleek new curves. The visual effects are by Roof Studio and RPA. TNG VFX provided the scan of the Honda engineer, and the building interior of the room along with furniture.



Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

We get a behind-the-scenes look at the debut of a new character. Mark Kolpack speaks about the intricacies, and how we was able to create a powerful scene of cinematic quality.

  • the user of prosthetics
  • the use of 3d scanning
  • full body motion capture
  • facial motion capture
  • attention to detail


How 3D scanned characters can be used in film, TV episodics, or game cinematics.

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There are a number of situations CG characters can be utilized on screen. Any time you want to have visual effects affecting a human character it's good that have that character in 3D. This gives you a ton of options to play with, and in the 3D world which allow for shape shifting, stretching or any type of deformations as well as particles exploding. Another use is for stunts or death scenes in which you do not want to subject the actual actor to any harm. The digital double mimics the likeliness and can be the 'pin-cushion'.

If an actor is unavailable for any reason, a digital double could be used in that scene. Blend shapes are fascinating in that if you retain the same 3D mesh, poly count, and vertex order, you can essentically 'shape shift' from one face to another face. This can be used to create facial expressions for animation.

For example we always scan a neutral expression head first, and if we did scan a smile, once the blend shapes are created, you can with a slider go from a neutral face to a smile, and all the varying degrees between the two. If you were to scan 12 different people's heads and created blend shapes for them, you could mix and match features to create new characters - for example 20% of person 1, 30% of person 3, 50% of person 9. The result would be a unique character, and interestingly enough it would not be entirely fiction, but accurate human features.


3D scanning human heads.

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The first step we do is to take some initial photography shots of the person exactly as they are. This will allow them to relax as well as let us capture their hair exactly how it was. We shoot a full rotation of the person to have full coverage of high resolution photography for both reference to ensure the 3D scan matches the actual person as well as for later on projection mapping the textures.

During the actual head scan, the person being scanned is to remain somewhat still for about 20 seconds. This is because when scanning static objects the shape can never move, and so recording data is easier in comparison. A human on the other hand, and especially the head, will be moving as they are alive and breathing. We only ask they do not move or lick their lips for the duration of the scan. This lets the volume box we're capturing remain constant resulting in better alignments and ultimately better resolution in the final product.

We have successfully scanned animals as well as a human baby, so by no means does someone have to be perfectly still. We appreciate the person's cooperation.

3D scanning human bodies.

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A human body is harder to scan then a head, but is entirely possible to achieve high resolution data. The first reason it is more difficult is because of the surface area. In relation to a body, there could be a dozen heads to account for the surface area. What can easily end up happening are misalignments due to a person moving their legs separately from moving their arms, and their arms separately from their torso, and so on.

This localized movement can be trouble for some types of alignment which try to use large chunks of scan data at once. We are able to compensate for all localized movements in our pipeline with our researched techniques and experience. The photographic reference is more elaborate than just for a head as there are 4 limbs, hands, feet, torso, and hips. The more time allotted to photography will generally improve the color texture in both resolution and color information.

For example if you framed an entire body with your camera versus framing just the upper body, you'd get more resolution and detail out of the latter.

Angie 3D Model 



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"What can I say about Nick Tesi except that he always delivers and does a terrific job. Over the past many years, I have had great experiences with Nick Tesi when I hire him to do any type of cyber scanning. His 3D digital models are superb and are of very high quality. I know I can count on Nick to help create digital actors or digital models for any type of show. I would highly recommend Nick and his team for projects that requires any type of 3D cyber scanning. Thanks Nick for your help on "Vamps." See you on the next big one!"

Susan Zwerman - VFX Producer

"I selected TNG Visual Effects and Nick Tesi for my 3D scanning needs based on our past history on other projects. He has always delivered on time at the price we agreed upon. His company is reliable and always proved to be a good choice of vendors. On my last project Nick arranged Lidar scanning and all worked out perfect. Nick has always been prompt, and helpful in supporting me to find the correct solutions."

John Sullivan - VFX Supervisor

Welcome to TNG VFX. Enjoy your stay. 3D Scanning in the Entertainment Industry