A team from the Smithsonian performed an extremely detailed 3D scan of US President Obama.
The Smithsonian team was inspired by the life mask of President Abraham Lincoln, seen below. This was produced by applying material to Lincoln’s head while he was alive in 1860, producing a cast from which masks could be produced. While far from today’s technologies, the Lincoln life mask is an amazing piece. The Smithsonian wished to do something similar for today’s President with today’s technology.
The team brought in a specialized 3D scanning setup that included:
- 50 custom built LED lights
- 8 hi-res sports photography cameras
- 6 wide angle cameras
This is rather different from typical 3D scanning booths you’d see in 3D print retail stores, which most often have more (and identical) cameras with “normal” LED lighting. Why the difference? Paul Debevec of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies explains:
In about one second, as he holds his presidential pose, he’ll be illuminated by ten different lighting conditions, which will change the polarization of the light, the directionality of the light, which will give us everything we need to understand the shape of his face, and how it transforms incident illumination into the images we see of him.
The result, they say, is “The highest resolution 3D model of any head of state.”