Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Pete Souza: President Obama Sitting for Smithsonian's 3D Portrait
Posted by Jay at 8:54 PM
This intimidating photo isn't a publicity shot for the latest Star Wars movie (although it could be with a little bit of Photoshop); it's President Barack Obama sitting for a special portrait session for the Smithsonian's 3D model, as photographed by White House photographer Pete Souza.
In this June 2014 portrait sitting, the Smithsonian installed a special mobile light stage in the White House for a unique portrait sitting. This unusual process aimed at capturing a 64-bit 3D impression of the President's portrait. The data gathered would then be used to recreate his likeness in a poly mesh and texture map, and then printed using a 3D printer. As the photo captured by Pete Souza shows, the Smithsonian meant business with this portrait.
The highest resolution model was inspired Abraham Lincoln's life mask which was captured earlier by the Smithsonian with the same technology. For the equipment used, the Smithsonian installed 50 custom LEDs and 14 high res DSLRs all around a mesh surrounding the President. The illumination took about one second for the different LED lights to change in directionality and the quality in order to capture the President's face
After the sitting, another handheld structured light 3D scanner, using stereo cameras to capture the geometry of the President's face. The result is the first ever 3D printed President.
The video of the 3D portrait process (with the 3D bust outcome of the President) can be seen here. For other portraits of President Barack Obama, check out Martin Schoeller's up close and personal portraits, and Shepard Fairey / Mannie Garcia's Hope Poster. For more of Pete Souza's West Wing photography, click here.