The Eyes

The Eyes

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Behind the Scenes | Watch the President Get Printed in 3D

The Smithsonian stopped by the White House to take a 3D portrait of President Obama, in what will be the highest resolution digital model of a head of state. 

In order to make the 3D presidential portrait, Obama sat in front of a "mobile light stage" with 50 customized LED lights that replicated multiple different lighting conditions. While Obama sat, he was photographed by multiple cameras. Smithsonian staffers also used handheld 3D scanners. The portrait session yielded exact measurements of Obama that were used to make a presidential bust.

"This isn't an artistic likeness of the president this is actually millions upon millions of measurements that create a 3D likeness of the president," Adam Metallo, the Smithsonian's 3D Digitization Program Officer explained.

The scans and printed models will become part of a collection at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, which showcases multiple images of each president. The 3D portraits will be added to the museum's current collection of works representing Obama.

The Smithsonian launched a 3D scanning and imaging program called Smithsonian X 3D in 2013, to make its museum collections and scientific specimens more widely available to researchers.

Take a look at the process, and the 3D rendering created from this technology.