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Smithsonian Creates First-Ever Digital 3D Presidential Portrait in President Obama

US President Barack Obama is the first to get an all digital process Portrait Bust—created using today’s cutting edge digital tools

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US President Barack Obama has become the first president of the United States to have a digital 3D Bust created in his likeness. Presidential busts have been historically made for presidents and dignitaries for centuries, but this bust is completely relevant to our times.

The Process

This bust, completed earlier this year, was undertaken by the Digitization Program Office of the Smithsonian Institution. Unlike the grease allegedly applied to President Lincoln’s beard, President Obama had a much cleaner and simpler task for sitting for his bust portrait.

Obama needed to tolerate 1 second of flashing lights, as well as sit still for about 90 seconds. A team led by Dr. Paul Debevec of USC’s Institute of Creative Technologies, assembled a Mobile Light Stage which took a total of 80 photographs of President Obama using eight high-end DSLRs and 50 light sources…10 photographs each under different light levels.

01 - Digital portraits of the first digitized 3D presidential bust. (courtesy of Smithsonian Institute-DPO. All rights reserved)

01 – Digital portraits of the first digitized 3D presidential bust. (courtesy of Smithsonian Institute-DPO. All rights reserved)

Sophisticated algorithms processed this data into high-resolution 3D models capturing the president’s facial features from ear to ear. Then a hand 3D scanner was used to capture the 3D geometry of the president’s entire head.

Autodesk’s Role

After this work was completed the first batch of data was transferred to Autodesk where the Mobile Light Stage, hand scanned data, and photographic data were all combined and post-processed. The Autodesk team put together a 3D model that combined all the data like a puzzle, precisely registering the geometry from different data sources into a unified 3D space.

After this process color control processes were undertaken. Then a digital modeler sculpted a plinth to complete the bust. After just 72 hours the entire undertaking produced a master file of 15 million triangles, which also generated 3D print-level files for the Obama bust and life mask to be produced in the physical. The data was transferred to 3D Systems who processed the final form in a Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process that melts nylon powder into a highly accurate and durable 3D print.

Viewing the Obama Bust

The President Obama Digital Bust was unveiled 18 June 2014 at the White House Maker Faire and are now on display in the Smithsonian Castle.

A new video released by the White House (see above) details the behind-the-scene process of scanning, creating, and printing the historic portraits. From 2 December 2014 through 31 December 2014, the portraits will be on view in the Commons gallery of the Smithsonian Castle.

Notes

To learn more about the detailed process involved please read here: http://dpo.si.edu/blog/smithsonian-creates-first-ever-3d-presidential-portrait

Reader Comments

  1. http://t.co/w7YMEbL01a — Smithsonian creates First-Ever Digital 3D Presidential Portrait in Presidential Obama

  2. Maik Obermüller liked this on Facebook.

  3. #CAD Smithsonian Creates First-Ever Digital 3D Presidential Portrait in President Obama http://t.co/yxrKUp0fof

  4. Even his sculpture has a smug look. Ugh.

  5. Cool!. Wait… No interactive HapticPlasma® Hologram with optional ABS360 (Above Screen™) iPhone app?. What era are we in?, the Middle Ages?.

    Cool nevertheless. =)

  6. Cool!. Wait… No interactive HapticPlasma® Hologram with optional ABS360 (Above Screen™) iPhone app?. What era… http://t.co/zx0YMIt3GF

  7. Johnny Goodmo liked this on Facebook.

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