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Students’ homemade Raspberry Pi 3D scanner turns light paintings into holograms

Light painting just got a three-dimensional upgrade with a new invention called HoloPainting.

Students from the St. Pölten University of Applied Science, in Vienna, Austria, developed the technique for a graduate project under the auspices of a time-lapse and film production company, FilmSpektakel (via PetaPixel)

HoloPainting, which creates animated, three-dimensional holograms consisting of pure light, doesn’t require computer-generated imagery. Instead, it combines light painting, stop motion, and hyperlapse in a manner that results in a 360-degree hologram.

The setup

The 3D scanner is a setup involving 24 Rasperry Pi mini computers and 24 webcams.

Up until now, light painting was only done in two dimensions. The seamlessness of HoloPainting is the result of some time-consuming and complicated work.

“We built a giant 3D scanner out of 24 Raspberry Pi’s with their webcams. These cameras took photos from 24 different perspectives of the person in the middle with a delay of 83 milliseconds, so the movement of the person also was recorded,” according to the FilmSpektakel team.

The scanner makes a giant circle that takes up an entire room. To initiate, the HoloPainting crew manually programs the cameras to hold the 83-millisecond delay. After capturing the images, the dedicated staff spends hours cutting out each photo to ensure a pitch-black background for the person photographed. Then they make a hyperlapse light painting of the images with a Pixelstick.

Raspberry Pi computer with webcam.

Raspberry Pi computer with webcam.

For the three-dimensional scanner, the FilmSpektakel team also used one 48-port switch and 375 meters of LAN cable to hook up the 24 Raspberry Pi computers and 24 attached webcams. For the HoloPainting they used a Canon EOS 6D camera, Sachtler Ace M tripod, and a Pixelstick.

“As a result, the hyperlapse circulates around a three-dimensional light painting,” states the FilmSpektakel team. “We felt [it was] like painting a hologram, so we called it a HoloPainting.”