Into the Looking Glass: 3D Scanning Scenes 101




Introduction: Into the Looking Glass: 3D Scanning Scenes 101

This is an instructable on how to use a portable 3D scanning rig for capturing volumetric scenes, in a bit of a blend between photography and video. For 3D scanning of someone's head, check out this instructable. And for 3D scanning small objects, check out this one. Oh, and for what to do with your 3D scene scans, check out my lab's main work, volumetric printing.

And, if you happen to be in Hong Kong or Brooklyn let me know - sometimes a group of us volumetric digitizers go out and capture the souls of the locals.

Step 1: Portable Scanning Rig for Scenes (Variation 1)


  • Macbook Pro: 11", Intel dual-core i7 1.7GHz with Turboboost up to 3.3GHz, 8GB SDRAM,
    Flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 5000)

  • Primesense Carmine 1.09 (for close range scans), Carmine 1.082, Structure Sensor, or Asus Xtion Live Pro. As of this writing (June 27, 2014), the only sensor still on the market and able to capture color scenes is the Asus Xtion Live Pro


  • Skanect: Hands down the best software for full color scanning of scenes. There's live feedback and you don't need to be connected to the internet for 3D model generation.

The settings I used for these scans are shown as screenshots here.

Live scanning out and about on the mean streets is brutal on battery life and the CPU of these light Macbook Airs. If you add some power management apps to run in the background, you'll likely get about 2 hours of scan time with this setup.

I like to scan at Low resolution and then do a Medium or High resolution reconstruction after the scan is complete.

Step 2: Portable Scanning Rig With a Turntable (Variation 2)

Sometimes if you just want to scan individual people, a turntable works out better. Here's a little clip of how that system works.

Note: I added a spotlight on top of the scanner, which can give better colors in the final 3D model.

Step 3: Use Your 3D Scans to Make Friends

If anyone puts together this or other portable rig and wants more detail on scanning technique, let me know in the comments and I'll more to this instructable. Thanks!

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    6 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Have you guys ever used ReconstructMe it seems to have a faster scan rate ?

    I have been using it to map people on a robot .

    Are you able to export this into a image file to give you a 360 deg. view? And are you able to break this down into a workable 3d model?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    ok.. this plus a color 3d printer WILL happen in our lifetimes... the software and scanning will fill in the missing details and the printer output WILL get better.... imagine instead of a photo, you have a mini sculpture of your kids first bike ride, or college graduation, etc... very cool...


    6 years ago on Introduction

    wow, that's greet.

    i'm interested in this and i have a huawei 10" tablet . can i make 3d pictures like yours?

    my email is ""

    can you help me?

    have a good time with best wishes


    6 years ago on Introduction

    So cool. AND A GIF IN THE MAIN IMAGE. Best 3D scanning project ever? Perhaps.