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How video game rocks get made

How do you make video game rocks look real? Sometimes, it involves a trip out to the desert.

In this video, Vox’s Phil Edwards interviews Galen Davis of Quixel at Epic Games. His job is as a game developer, but sometimes, he goes out into the desert to scan rocks.

This scanning process is a crucial new stage in making realistic 3D games today. Rather than modeling and texturing assets manually, designers often rely on scanned assets to make their games, movies, or other 3D productions look real. Quixel sent Davis to Moab, Utah, just to scan the exotic terrain there for use in the Unreal Engine video game.

There are other ways to get assets for 3D productions as well, from apps on your phone to the many different available marketplaces, which means photorealistic assets can be downloaded instead of created, allowing designers to save time and improve the quality of their work.

This process of photogrammetry isn’t just used for games, but in many different disciplines. For instance, you can browse and download the Smithsonian Museum’s collection of 3D objects, including the Apollo 11 command module.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube.