Announcing My 3D Portrait Studio: Coney Island Scan-A-Rama

For the last year I’ve been cooking up a plan to launch The Great Fredini’s Coney Island Scan-A-Rama- a popup 3D portrait studio. Using an Xbox Kinect Controller, ReconstructMe software, and my heavy duty lazy susan, I have been perfecting a technique of creating full body 3D scans to be 3D printed. There’s a ton of folks out there who have been creating 3D busts of people, but the promise of being your own action figure seems infinitely more appealing to me. My goal is be to scan people and in a few minutes of cleanup have a print ready file. I see this as the photo booth of the future.

Earliest to newest attempts- The size is getting smaller and details better. 200mm Printrbot+ print, 166mm Rostock Max print, 144mm and 108mm Makerbot Replicator Prints.

This scan of Katie is one of my favorites as it doesn’t require support. These are some of my earliest to latest attempts. The size is getting smaller and details better. Left to right: 200mm Printrbot+ print, 166mm Rostock Max print, 144mm and 108mm Makerbot Replicator Prints.

A couple other folks have tried 3D portraits. On the low end, Makerbot has a 3D photo booth in their store- using a photo based model generation technique, users can get their face scanned for $5, but this gives you only a model of the front of your face, with a flat back of the head. IMO, kind of disappointing, although the price is right. In contrast, Japan’s Omote3d is doing full body scans that are printed in full color on a 3D Systems powder based printer, but the portraits are exorbitantly expensive- ranging from $264 for a 100 mm Star Wars action figure sized print to about $528 for an 200mm/ 8″ figurine. If you consider all the work cleaning up the 3D model so its ready to print, the use of high end scanners and printers, model clean up and finishing its not that bad, but who’s going to do a family portrait for that cost? My goal has been how to bring the cost down to something the common man might actually pay for. As we say in Coney Island, it has to be a clean piece of money- something like a $20 bill!

I was debating doing a Kickstarter campaign this winter toward getting things going this spring. I’ve had to purchase a new computer with a powerful processor to do the scanning and will need software licences and a reliable printer if I’m going to make portraits for people commercially. The thing that has concerned me about doing a Kickstarter is having to do fulfillment on backers portraits. All that plastic and shipping rewards will be expensive and eat into the purpose of doing the campaign in the first place. Then of course, hurricane Sandy happened and the project got dropped for a few months.

So now I’m back to taking baby steps. I’m going to have a 3D scanning booth at Westport CT Mini Makerfaire on April 27th as a proof of concept for this project. In concept I should be able to make a scan and clean it up in about 10 minutes to have a print ready file. In reality, that 10 minutes is a best case scenario and it could take significantly more time. I’ve learned that shiny things like patent leather boots won’t scan- they just show up as invisible. People need to assume poses that keep their chin up and have their arms going up or by their sides so the print doesn’t require support.

For Westport, my plan is to sell scans only: If people want one, they will pay $20 and within a week I will get their scans posted on Thingiverse to my project page. This virual fulfillment cuts down on my costs and fulfillment, while also helping the local library there; they have two Makerbots that users can print out their figures on. In exchange for the low cost I will be asking people to sign a model release that grants me the right to use their likeness, both to post it online to be shared under a creative commons licence, and for use in my work. We’ll see how the project is received and whether it might bear a Kickstarter- I would really like to get a nice and reliable printer and offer prints to people as well.

If all goes well I will end up bringing the setup to Coney Island this summer and I look forward to making portraits of many of the performers gracing the stages there. Stay tuned for more on the project here on my blog!

UPDATE 04/25/2013:

I have now set up a permanent page for the project here:

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