3D Scanner (Kinda Sorta)

When I saw a tweet from @drwoohoo with a link pointing to this page on how to build a 3d scanner, my first reaction was to jump up and ask the guys here at work where our projector was. Well, as it turns out, unfortunately, our projector has been either misappropriated or misplaced. Not to be daunted, I tried to see if I could reproduce the effect without the projector and came up with the thing below.

What’s it do? Well, basically, using your webcam, the app takes four pictures. The first is left untouched. The other three have “scanlines” projected onto them moved a fractional amount in each image (as described in the article above). The scanlines are warped onto each image with a displacement map filter to attempt to mimic real light and shadow falling onto 3 dimensional being. Those three images are then desaturated and blended together into a single black and white map. That map and the original image are then used in a modified version of this pretty cool 3d pixel generator from Flash and Math. Which is to say, the original image is projected into 3d space using displacement data from the black and white combined map image.

So what’s that mean? Well, mainly it means the effect I got is about 0% of the 3d scanner effect I was aiming to produce. In fact, I could have saved myself a good deal of time and effort and got a nearly identical result by simply taking one image and passing it directly to the Flash and Math doohickey. Live and learn. The results are pretty nifty, though. Chalk it up to an interesting but failed experiment. Oh and you can save the 3d images you generate. Not sure why you’d want to, but you never know. I have one currently set as my Skype avatar.

And if anyone knows where our projector is, we’d really like it back.

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