3D Laser Scanners: The Future of Hollywood?

Since the dawn of moviemaking, filmmakers have pushed the limits of what’s possible to be captured and put on screen. Nowadays, by leveraging technologies like 3D laser scanning and computer imagery, their artistic and creative capabilities have grown exponentially.

While you may run into a 3D laser scanning drone more often at a construction site or during surveying work, 3D laser scanning is finding its own place on the silver screen, too. Movies such as Army of the Dead have used 3D laser scanning technologies to impressive effect in recent years, prompting many filmmakers and production companies to sit up and take notice.

What does 3D laser scanning mean for the future of Hollywood? Learn more about the possibilities 3D laser scanning affords the movie industry below.

3D Laser Scanners In The Making Of Army of the Dead

For the creation of the zombie epic Army of the Dead, the visual effects team used 3D scanning technology in order to fully capture the Las Vegas strip. This meant that they were able to maximize their filming time in a way that typical film crews are unable to when filming in Vegas. That’s because generally film crews are required to leave the strip by 10 in the morning if filming, which obviously doesn’t bode well for the extended work days necessary during the filmmaking process.

By using 3D laser scanning technology, it was possible to easily and affordably recreate the Vegas strip as authentically as possible. Although it took a week to fully capture, it saved the production team six weeks of on location filming. Those time and budgetary savings were immensely helpful in getting the film produced. Most excitingly, the production of Army of the Dead was the first time a large-scale film of this nature was executed in this way.

The Benefits Of 3D Laser Scanning Drones

You’ve likely heard the saying that “time is money,” and in the world of  film production, that adage is even more true. Even shaving a few days off of the production calendar can account for thousands of dollars in savings, and without 3D laser scanning drones like the ones that were utilized by Army of the Dead’s visual effects team, production for Army of the Dead would have been much more costly.

As producer Deborah Snyder explains in an interview with Screen Rant, “If we could only be there [until] 10am it would take us like 6 weeks to do it, which wasn't going to be very affordable, so they've allowed us extra time on the Strip…[and] they have LiDAR scans and photo geometry of all of Las Vegas so we'll use that and create a devastated Vegas from there.”

Another major benefit of using 3D laser scanning is the high level of accuracy you get when capturing 3D point clouds. From scale to distance, the visual effects team’s digital reproduction of the Las Vegas strip was incredibly accurate, which made for a more immersive virtual filming environment in the final cut.

The Future Of 3D Laser Scanning In Film

When technology advances, the film industry looks for ways to use it. As such, 3D laser scanning for visual effects is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the movie industry. LiDAR and 3D scanning have become more frequently employed in recent years to save production costs and increase efficiencies in helping match camera angles in visual effects and other post production processes.

Interested in learning more about the unique ways 3D scanning technology can benefit your business? Reach out to Datum Tech Solutions, who have years of experience and professional expertise with a wide array of 3D scanners.

Our favorite products featured in this blog

Leica RTC360 3D Laser Scanner

The Leica RTC360 3D reality capture solution empowers users to document and capture their environments in 3D, improving efficiency and productivity in the field and in the office through fast, simple-to-use, accurate, and portable hardware and software. The RTC360 3D laser scanner is the solution for professionals to manage project complexities with accurate and reliable 3D representations and discover the possibilities of any site.


The Leica RTC360 3D Laser Scanner is a highly portable and automated tool designed for maximum productivity. Capture scans, including enriching HDR imagery, in less than two minutes. The intuitive RTC360 also features edge computing for automatic registration of scans in real time and tags to augment data capture. Enjoy improved planning with this professional 3D laser scanner.


  • Highly portable, highly automated, intuitive and designed for maximum productivity, the RTC360 solution efficiently combines the RTC360 a high-performance 3D laser scanner, Leica Cyclone FIELD 360 mobile-device app for edge computing for automatically registering scans in real time, and Leica Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS office software to integrate your 3D model seamlessly into your workflow.
  • Capture scans, including enriching High-Dynamic Range (HDR) imagery, in less than two minutes.
  • Automatically record your moves from station to station to pre-register your scans in the field without manual intervention.
  • Augment your data capture with information tags illustrating the opportunities for better planning, reflect site reality, and boost your teams’ situational awareness
  • Directly publish your captured data from Cyclone FIELD 360 to Leica TruView Cloud to quickly exchange project information prior to import and registration"


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