Profile of a Wizard of 3D Photography — Mark Ruff

Mark Ruff started his career in television as a technical director and master controller after acquiring a qualification in physics.

His passion was always photography and after nearly a decade of working for someone else, Mark made the dubious decision of turning his hobby into a career.

Mark went back to school and learnt photography at RMIT and was one of only 3 to graduate after 3 years.

He went on to work for several agencies before touring his talents to multiple camera arrays.

In 1999, Mark made his first analogue array, thinking he would conquer the world only to be beaten to the post by the feature film The Matrix.

This feature became his nemesis as it was made in Australia and was plagued with problems and discouraged use inches own country.

Mark did make an impact providing high end frozen moment effects internationally.

Mark was the first to go digital with Canon EOS 10D’s.

At that time there were only about 4 people in the world who could successfully perform the task and, it is still the domain of about 4–5 experts in the world.

Mark’s approach to film making is what makes Australian’s so valuable in the world — you have to, out of necessity, do things more efficiently with small budgets.

Mark received the coveted Australian Cinematography Society (ACS) award for Innovation and Advancement of Cinematography in Australia.

In the later 2000’s the film industry took a big dive with budgets decimated.

Mark used his camera array talents and turned towards 3D Lenticular with quality portraiture in mind.

Mark became the first internationally recognised Master of Photography, an accolade presented by the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP).

He became the first and only finalist to submit 3D to the most valuable art award in Australia, the Moran Contemporary Photographic Portrait Prize.

In 2014, the Canon array was retired after being commissioned on Gods of Egypt, an Alex Proyas block buster and decided to give 3D Body and Facial Scanning a go.

He made the change to Nikon.

High end 3D scanning with a splash of Champagne

Mark thought he could develop a system in a matter of weeks.

The reality saw that it took many months to develop and Mark had 15 years of camera array experience!

3D body scanning is a great advancement in technology — you capture geometry and texture instantly at 1/7000 second.

The result is not a photograph, rather a 3D model that can be manipulated and relit with photographic quality.

“It is the future of image making that has application in film, tv, virtual reality, augmented reality and interactive models on the net”, says Mark.

3D Body and Facial Scanning requires technical expertise, photographic skills, customer engagement and a business ethic to gain success.

I was interested in the small colour 3D printed figurine for a brief moment, but saw that it had already been turned into a commodity with business owners spiralling towards lower prices and unsustainable practices that have turned this great technology into nothing more than an undervalued gimmick.

Mark is taking a different approach and although it is a bit of a secret, Mark’s business model is based on a high end Champagne experience with great customer service with a bespoke product of high value.

Most business’s either succeed at the very top end, or, provide poor quality with high volume at low prices.

There is no room for anyone in the middle as they cannot provide high quality and cannot provide sufficient volume to be successful.

Choosing a software to use - what counts?

Progress was slow as ‘this old dog at age 56’ had to learn new tricks with new programs like ZBrush, Maya, Mudbox and PhotoScan.

The Nikons could be tethered to a computer and the decision to find the best camera management system was obvious — Smart Shooter won hands down.

It was affordable compared to other camera management systems and Francis was very quick to take on board suggestions and bugs.

“I could not ask for better customer service”, says Mark

Francis confided in me at the time of the Pro version for multiple camera tethering and asked my opinion on cost.

My answer was, that I could not afford another developers solution and if he had a better one at a lower cost, then he will win.

I am glad he has done this.

It is a great piece of software and peanuts compared to the cost of hardware when developing a camera array.

“Well done Francis — I wish there were more people like you!”, stated Mark.

You can see more of what Mark does at: