Whether you need sculpting, modeling, or scanning depends on the cost plus time equation. Our research and experience in the 3D scanning industry has revealed that ‘the time it took an artist to model’ versus ‘the cost of scanning’ was almost equal. The only difference was that the project was completed in about half the time when scanning was chosen over modeling. If time is money then 3D scanning is clearly the most cost-effective way to go.
The scanning process will give you the ability to scan a great number of people, quickly and in a single session. It is always best to plan a 3D scanning session early, perhaps even in pre-production, or when you have the required talent, props, or other items to be scanned available. You will get the most out of your models when you plan them from previs to post production.
Remember, there are few artists that can replicate a person quickly and with incredible detail. If you have these types of artists in your network, you should regard them as valuable assets. Most companies will take their modelers and put them on other aspects of the project to maximize their resources. This also gives the artists experience to increase their skills in other areas of the post-production process. The sculpting then comes in handy to quickly enhance the model for finishing.
No matter which method you choose, it is best to think of scanning, modeling, and sculpting as complementary. These various methods aren’t competing with each other. Ask your 3D scanning company how they can save you valuable time on your next project.