The 3-D Document

Last week we had a family portrait taken for a diamond wedding celebration. There’s nothing unusual about that - family photos are a pretty typical present. But this time we had a new set of things to think about, because the result won't be a photograph, but a 3D model.*

Walking through an unremarkable shop front in central London, we were directed to the rear of the shop and down some stairs into a white painted basement room about 5m square. With just a mark on the floor showing where to stand, and 64 cameras arranged around the walls with trailing wires attached, it looked like it could be some kind of virtual reality torture chamber. But our hosts were very friendly, and invited us in for the data capture…

Having any photo taken comes with the usual set of things to worry about beforehand, and with teenage daughters they can become quite significant …
  • Hair and make-up need to be perfect
  • Will we coordinate OK?
  • How we are going to compose the shot?
  • Which unsightly bits need to be hidden?
  • Can we agree on something that we all like?
  • What will the recipients think of it and where will they put it?


Then working with 3D gave us some extra challenges …

  • Pinning stuff or hiding bits ‘out of shot’ doesn’t work when there are 64 cameras taking a shot from every angle – there really is nowhere to hide.
  • How should we arrange ourselves so that the important bits are all in focus?
  • And make sure that there are no blank bits resulting from some of the cameras having an obscured view?
  • And make it interesting from every angle?


It occurred to me that when I produce a document from my EA model I have to resolve many of the same things…

  • How can I make it look professional, and ensure that everything in it is consistent?
  • Who is it for, so what content needs to be included and excluded? (And what's the best way of showing it?)
  • What do I do with the unsightly/unfinished bits? (Exclude them? Highlight them? Leave them blank?)
  • What do I want the recipient to do with the information in it? (Make a decision? Approve it? Take action?)
  • How do I emphasise the important stuff? (Changes since the last version? Conditional formatting?)
  • Would using another angle on the data make it clearer? (Should I start from a package, or an element type, a diagram or a relationship?)
  • Are there things that have been hidden up to now that I can show?
  • Can I add 3D effects to my document? (Would using relationships and hyperlinks make it easier to read?)
  • Or would it be simpler to just give my readers the model instead?


Thinking about each document as a view of the model through the photographer’s lens adds a whole new dimension to creating documents.

Whether creating a contractual deliverable or a working draft, how could thinking this way about your documents change what you do?


And the results of our photo-shoot?  We’re still waiting to see what develops. Let’s hope our key stakeholders like what they see.smiley

*Courtesy of My3DTwin, with 3D printing by our friends at Cadventure.