Creating 3D Portraits Using an Array of Digital Cameras


Chilean visual artist Felipe Baeza is doing some pretty interesting work with Matrix-style camera rigs. Instead of bullet time videos, Baeza uses his rig to create 3D portraits of subjects that can then be displayed in augmented reality or through a 3D model viewer.

Baeza began experimenting with the technique starting in 2003. He uses both film cameras and digital Canon point-and-shoots that have been modified with Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK) firmware.

Here are some photographs of the rigs Baeza uses:







The semi-circle arrays can be used to create 3D models of a subject’s front side:

By placing the cameras in a full circle and at different heights, Baeza can take things one step further and create complete 3D models of any subject:

Those 3D portraits can then be displayed in augmented reality. Place a special card on a table, point your camera app at the card, and a 3D model of the subject appears in virtual space:

In the future, perhaps we’ll be displaying family portraits on mantlepieces inside holographic 3D enclosures. This camera system is one step in that direction.

Image credits: Photos and videos by Felipe Baeza and used with permission

  • Josh Bobb

    123D Catch, anyone? Anyone??

  • George Birbilis

    Why not sync the cameras and shoot video so that you can make animated 3D objects by jumping to correct time/frame at the video that corresponds to the current view angle? Obviously the dataset is much larger then

  • splashtrack

    Ortery Photosimile 5000???

  • Eric ParĂ© 360

    With 123D Catch, you would not be able to freeze a moving subject.
    They could have demonstrated this in their demo here, but I think it
    wasn’t possible to trigger the shutter fast enough using simple
    point&shoot cameras.

  • Richard Horsfield

    The future of porn?

  • Sean Lucky

    Gotta say, the concept of going to all this trouble and then lighting it with some construction lamps, is a little strange to me…

  • Neoracer Xox

    seems easy enough

  • Mark

    No it isn’t, as you don’t have to worry about flash sync

  • Marry Root

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  • Sam

    As amusing as that comment is, porn has actually driven a large part of internet technology. It attracted enough perv dollars to improve internet video and webcam technology beyond pixellated jerky images long before corporations made practical commercial use of it.

  • Sean Lucky

    I would definitely stick with continuous lighting as I’ve tried and failed syncing just two cameras with flash. However, just some better quality lights with some softboxes perhaps would do wonders.

  • Mike

    It’s a bit rubbish tbh!

  • ManBoy

    They probably use 123D Catch with the images from the camera array. I tried using 123D Catch using a single camera and my subject couldn’t keep 100% still during the whole scan so the face didn’t turn out clean. I’m sure some people could keep 100% still tho