A New Look-Around Cosplay

Photogrammetry 3D models from the floor of Chicago's C2E2 Comic Convention

12-feet of dark feathers, a noir-detective's trench coat, blue tie and black boots was a sight to see on a 5-foot stature. Truly appreciating her costume required seeing it from all angles—exactly the reason we went to make 3D models of cosplayers at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.

I really just wanted an excuse to make wings


She spent a lot of late nights on this high school science fair project—but even when she was eliminated at the regional level, Morgan was re-gluing feathers in preparation of the comic convention.

And while Morgan knelt with small children fascinated by her seraphim majesty, her dad, Mike, insisted everyone get a look at the pneumatic pump that his little girl had engineered on her back. “She made this.”

Henry Keyser
Screenshot of Reality Capture

Morgan toiled to craft three-dimensions of costume for her favorite screen-character, so we, too, we wanted to reflect her 3D effort with more than a flat photo. This is why we wanted to bring photogrammetry to the press of C2E2.

Photogrammetry is a technique that can create 3D models and VR-environments out of still images. Software looks at the images, interprets the position and orientation of each image related to the others, and then determines the depth and shape of the subjects in the images. (Read our companion article to learn more about how photogrammetry works.)

Originally designed for surveying, photogrammetry can serve as an imperfect method for capturing stationary moments in time.

The 15 seconds we asked Morgan and others to stand motionless for our video-photogrammetry capture technique was complicated by the packed and bustling convention floor. Our results varied, but here’s some of what we made.

At 11 years old, Lucas really embodied his costume as he and dad skulked from table to table at C2E2.

Next year I want to be Alien, or maybe the Alien-Predator hybrid.

Lucas Predator from the Predator movie franchise
Maria Queen Padme Amidala from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Out of the hundreds of cosplayers at the convention, 35 were carefully screened and selected to compete in the C2E2 regional cosplay championship. The 35 Chicago-region contestants vied to win the one remaining slot in the international Crown Championship, held on that same stage immediately after the regional.

Meliza Dimailig Iron Banner Warlock from Destiny
Bio Cosplay Tier 19 Death Knight from World of Warcraft

At the international Crown Championship of Cosplay, 8 champions showed off their creations for a final podium.

Hongyang Chen Genji fromOverwatch
Okkido Cosplay Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor from Warhammer 40k

All 8 champions had amazing costumes, but Okkido, on the brink of tears over the recognition, earned the crown.

Afterwards, she had a lot of questions for the judges, two of whom are full-time professional cosplayers: Holly Conrad and Ivy Doomkitty.

Ivy Doomkitty Bowser/King Koopa from the Super Mario game series
Chris Waldron Nathan Drake from the Uncharted video game series

Ivy has been the cover model of Cosplay magazines and regularly tours the convention circuit as a competition judge.

But even near the top of the cosplay world, she tries to inspire anyone looking up to her… And they are.

About the project

Photojournalism in 3D for VR and Beyond

In this project, students will use modern approaches to making 3D images both with hardware and software processing.

About the authors

Henry Keyser

VR Journalism Student; focusing on media innovation, product management, TV Producing. Also a relapsing playwright.

Theodore Chryssos

Lifestyle journalist studying marketing communications, emerging-media geek, VR acolyte, amateur videographer, stationery enthusiast.

Jessica Buchleitner

Author of the 50 Women anthology series and Co-lead Editor/Producer Stories from Girls and Women of Mogadishu. United Nations delegate now obsessed with committing acts of journalism using virtual and augmented reality.

More results from Photojournalism in 3D for VR and Beyond