Tag Archives: Smithsonian X 3D

Captured Dimensions 3D Photo Booth Takes Center Stage at Smithsonian X3D Launch Expo

This article was written by Lisa Perez, a regular contributor to On 3D Printing.

As part of the Smithsonian’s X 3D launch, the museum hosted a two-day conference this past week to discuss its 3D initiatives and showcase the work of its Digitization Program Office and outside partners.  Among these, the Dallas-based Captured Dimensions team proved itself to be a leader in 3D photo imaging with a pop-up studio that delighted attendees and rendered 3D captures in extremely high fidelity.

The Captured Dimensions pop-up studio was located in the Smithsonian Castle and featured approximately 80 digital cameras arranged in a dome formation, all connected to 3D imaging software.  By triggering the cameras simultaneously, the Captured Dimensions is able to capture live subjects in 3D virtually instantly and in 360 degrees. The experience is as quick and easy for the subject as taking a picture, and action shots are definitely an option.

Smithsonian X 3D Pop-Up SetSmithsonian X 3D Pop-Up Setup

Captured Dimensions CEO Jordan Williams explained during the X 3D expo that “the general process gives you the ability to capture living subjects that are difficult to scan using other methods and to capture other objects that are outside of a traditional scale.”

The Smithsonian’s X 3D Expo attendees made full use of this capability, by posing for a range of 3D captures that included yoga poses, head stands, ballet moves and jump shots.

On Wednesday morning, the Captured Dimensions team kicked off the expo by taking an official 3D portrait of Secretary of the Smithsonian Dr. G. Wayne Clough which was processed and digitally imaged that day, and then 3D printed into a scaled full color replica the next day by fellow exhibitor 3D Systems.

The Smithsonian subsequently confirmed that this portrait marks the first official 3D capture and rendering of a sitting Smithsonian Secretary.

Indeed, at the time of this writing, it appears that the official 3D printed portrait of Secretary Clough is the first of its kind for a federal secretary, and could even present a potential solution to recent debates over the high cost of traditional portraits of government officials.  Currently, a scaled full body figurine from Captured Dimensions can be obtained for as little as $399 for a 1/12 scaled print, and $199 for reprints, while a recent oil on canvas portrait of Air Force Secretary Michael Donnelly is reported to have cost $41,200.

With the growing popularity of 3D imaging and portraiture, even Queen Elizabeth II is getting in on the action, so it stands to reason that a new tradition of 3D portraiture among high ranking US government officials can’t be too far behind.

For Captured Dimensions, the opportunity to take Secretary Clough’s portrait comes on the heels of exciting collaborations with Abilene Christian University’s Maker Lab (ACU Maker Lab), and New York-based fashion innovator Francis Bitonti.

The ACU Maker Lab project consisted of scanning and digitizing an 8-foot maquette of ACU’s 34-foot Centennial Celebration statue entitled Jacob’s Dream.  From this scan, the Captured Dimensions team produced a 27-inch scaled bronze-coated replica by printing it in 8 different sections on a MakerBot Replicator 2.

The team then assembled the replica using custom 3D printed dowels, applied a bronze coating and attached it to a weighted base.  The final result is an extremely precise facsimile of the original statue that can provide a lasting memento for the artist and for other lovers of the work.

Representatives from ACU’s Maker Lab and Department of Art & Design, including Jacob’s Dream sculptor Jack Maxwell, also attended the Smithsonian X 3D expo to share their work and their experience in digitizing the Jacob’s Dream statue.

Captured Dimensions was also recently called upon by the groundbreaking New York designer Francis Bitonti to scan several butterflies used to develop the world’s first 3D printed paper dress.  Mr. Bitonti developed his ”butterfly dress” in partnership with MCor Technologies and expects to unveil the design in the near future.

Smithsonian X 3D Pop-Up Cameras

In addition to Captured Dimensions, 3D Systems and ACU’s Maker Lab, the Smithsonian Castle also hosted other exhibitors highlighting 3D capture and 3D printing resources available to researchers and members of the public.  These included, among others, the Digital Commons team at DC’s own MLK Library, and Anderson Ta of the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Digital Fabrication Studio.

For those interested in learning more about the Smithsonian’s 3D initiatives and the X 3D launch event, the institution has made a webcast available on UStream.

Smithsonian X 3D Pop-Up Team

Interview with Smithsonian X 3D Team about 3D Printing Initiative

This past week, the Smithsonian Institution unveiled Smithsonian X 3D, an online 3D digital collection that allows anyone to 3D print the museum’s most iconic objects.

To learn about the program, read our coverage: Smithsonian X 3D Launches with Emphasis on Outreach and Digital Preservation.

In this article we wanted to dive deeper into the process of creating these 3D printable assets, and also interview two key members of the team.

A Closer Look: 3D Scanning and Rendering Cosmic Buddha

In the gallery below, we provide a closer look at the process of 3D scanning and rendering digital assets for Smithsonian X 3D.

Smithsonian 3D Digitization Coordinator Adam Metallo scans the Cosmic Buddha at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Gallery.

The Buddha’s intricate carvings contain narrative scenes that depict a conceptual map of the universe depicting the Buddhist Realms of Existence, but the shallowness of the relief made it difficult for viewers and scholars to decipher.

A 3D digital rendering of the Buddha was able to increase the contrast of the carvings, providing a much more detailed and complete look at the artifact. An interactive 3D rendering will go on exhibit with the statue in 2013.

Interview with the Smithsonian X 3D Team

We caught up with Vince Rossi and Adam Metallo, 3D Program Officers under the Digitization Program Office for an interview.

Adam Metallo and Vince Rossi whale fossil

Pictured above: Smithsonian 3-D Digitization coordinators Adam Metallo (L) and Vince Rossi stand behind a whale fossil in the Atacama Desert near Caldera, Chile. The massive “whale graveyard” was discovered by construction crews working to widen the Pan-American Highway (part of which can be seen in the bottom left of the photo). Metallo and Rossi accompanied Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History paleobiologist Nicholas Pyenson to the excavation to capture 3D digital information about the fossil which would remain in Chile at the Paleontological Museum of Caldera. Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

On 3D Printing: Please tell us about the original inspiration for this project. Who proposed the idea? How hard was it to get support?

Rossi & Metallo: We originally started thinking about how this technology can be used to better do our jobs within the museum—how can we use it to make better exhibits. We quickly realized that the potential of using 3D technology went far beyond just exhibits and we started to apply the tech towards research, conservation and collections applications.

On 3D Printing: Is the motivation preservation of historic objects or getting copies in people’s hands?

Rossi & Metallo: Our motivation is many-fold, but ultimately we want to use this technology to help tell stories about our collection and share our knowledge beyond our physical museum walls.

On 3D Printing: How open is the project with respect to IP and mashups?

Rossi & Metallo: We’ve released this data for non-commercial use (personal and educational).

On 3D Printing: How do you anticipate 3D printing contributing to the success of this project?

Rossi & Metallo: 3D printing is only just starting to be used in a personal and educational manner. We hope that this will be a resource to schools and make object-based education using our collection even more accessible. Please see our Education page for more details. http://3d.si.edu/article/educators and watch our 3D education video.

On 3D Printing: There have been other initiatives like the MakerBot Met digitizing event. Did you learn anything from these past events?

Rossi & Metallo: Crowdsourcing the digitization of objects is one way to scale the creation of this kind of data. However, most of those projects have focused on large, stone sculpture using only photogrammetry as the capture method. We wanted to test out this technology for a variety of objects and materials that you can find in our collection—objects from an airplane to an insect the size of your fingernail.

With our 20 use cases we have almost every one of the 19 Smithsonian museums represented – this points to both the scale and variety of our collection. Our next step is to look for ways to scale up our 3D efforts. These kinds of artifacts require more precise capture and data rendering tools.


Thanks to Mr. Rossi and Mr. Metallo for their time in this interview!

Smithsonian X 3D Launches with Emphasis on Outreach and Digital Preservation

Introducing the Smithsonian X 3D Project

This article was written by Lisa Perez, a regular contributor to On 3D Printing.

In an exciting development for all things 3D, this past Wednesday the Smithsonian Institution unveiled Smithsonian X 3D, an online 3D viewer and digital collection that allows anyone to explore digitally and 3D print some of the museum’s most iconic objects in detail.

The X 3D initiative is the centerpiece of a comprehensive effort by the Smithsonian Institution to enhance the preservation and accessibility of its collections through the use of 3D scanning, 3D imaging, and 3D printing.  The Smithsonian’s bold foray into the realms of digital preservation and 3D printing with X 3D is an encouraging sign for observers who are eager to see these technologies applied in a real world setting and an important step forward in their evolutionary cycle.

“The Smithsonian is a leader in using 3D technology to make museum collections and scientific specimens more widely available for anyone to use and study,” said Günter Waibel, the director of the Institution’s Digitization Program Office. “The Smithsonian X 3D explorer and the initial objects we scanned are the first step in showing how this technology will transform the work of the Smithsonian and other museums and research institutions.”

Smithsonian Secretary Dr. G. Wayne Clough has made digital preservation and outreach a priority during his tenure, emphasizing that since 2008, the institution began to explore ways to “let the public in“ through digital technology.  Dr. Clough has also authored an e-book on this subject titled Best of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries, and Archives in a Digital Age, which was published by the Smithsonian earlier this year.

Leading up to the unveiling of X 3D, the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office has led the Institution’s digital outreach effort by testing a range of 3D scanning methods and technologies on iconic objects in the collection and engaging with outside partners.

The end product of these efforts has been an inaugural Smithsonian X 3D collection that includes highly detailed digital renderings of such well known artifacts as Amelia Earhart’s flight suit, a cast of Abraham Lincoln’s face taken during the Civil War, and the world’s first airplane, the Wright Flyer.

Lincoln LifeMasks Smithsonian X 3D

Pictured above: 3D rendering of Abraham Lincolnís life mask, held at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian anticipates that 3D renderings and 3D printed models generated from these scans will serve as valuable learning tools for researchers, educators and the general public alike.

Another exciting aspect of the initiative, spearheaded by the Digitization Program Office, is the 3D capture and virtual reality mapping of archaeological sites and artifacts.

For example, the archaeological objects scanned as part of the Smithsonian X 3D beta launch include fossil whale skeletons from the Cerro Ballena, an archaeological site in the Atacama region of Chile.

Cerro Ballena Smithsonian X 3D

Pictured above: 3D scanning whale skeletons from Cerro Ballena. Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

During the X3D launch, the Smithsonian’s own 3D Data Wrangler Jonathan Blundell, led visitors through an Oculus Rift virtual reality tour of the fascinating Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores, Indonesia, where the Homo floresiensis­­––the so-called ‘hobbits’ of human evolution––were first discovered in 2003.  This fascinating digital experience is also showcased as one of the available tours on the Smithsonian X 3D viewer, proving that state-of-the-art 3D scanning technology can extend far beyond objects to include even the sites of their discovery.

LiangBua Smithsonian X 3D

Pictured above: Liang Bua. Credit: Smithsonian Institution.


Learn more at about Smithsonian X 3D at http://3d.si.edu/.