A continuous thread in the story of visual art, from ancient Greek mythology to the rise of photography in the 19th century, is the desire to represent a subject’s true likeness. As part of this story, Factum Foundation’s sister company, Factum Arte, developed the Veronica Scanner which uses photogrammetry to record highly objective portraits. The Veronica Scanner was installed in two locations as the centerpiece of an interactive exhibition exploring 3D portraiture.
Around 1,000 people were scanned and nearly 10,000 visited The Veronica Scanner: Live 3D Portraiture; the result of a collaboration between the Factum Foundation, The Rothschild Foundation and the Royal Academy of Arts. It was hosted at the RA in early September and at Waddesdon Manor in late October, and was one of the most well attended exhibitions ever recorded at the Coach House Gallery at Waddesdon Manor.
A visitor being scanned in the Veronica Scanner at the Royal Academy of Arts. Image © David Parry
To view the 3D models from both locations, please visit the online galleries below, provided and hosted by Autodesk:
Image © David Parry
Photogrammetry is an advanced 3D scanning technique where over-lapping photographs of an object are matched and processed into 3-dimensional form. In just four seconds, the Veronica Scanner’s eight cameras capture 96 high-resolution photographs of the human head and bust from every angle, mapping even the finest surface details. These images are then aligned in specialised software to produce digital 3D models with colour information. These files can be 3D printed, which in turn can create highly detailed moulds to cast in a variety of materials.
The center piece of the exhibition: the Veronica Chorographic Scanner at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Image © David Parry
The interactive exhibition was designed by RIBA award-winning architect, Charlotte Skene Catling and was envisioned a bustling futuristic workshop. Alongside scanning and processing members of the public, curated texts, historical artworks, and portrait busts in a variety of scales and materials produced with data from the Veronica - from 2-inch silver, to life-size chocolate, to a 1-meter-tall plaster bust - were displayed. 3D printers, provided by iMakr, and a wood carving KUKA robot, lent by the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), demonstrated contemporary rematerialisation techniques.
A 6-axis Kuka robot, lent and operated by the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), routing a head in Maple wood. Image © David Parry
Delta WASP 3D printer in action. To see the video, please click the image above
The display was supported by a curated exploration of 3D photography through the ages: the process by which art and science together have striven to perfectly capture and replicate the complexity of human features. Original artworks were kindly lent by Tomasso Brothers, London & Leeds. The result was a space where visitors were invited to engage with the exciting transformation of two-dimensional images into three-dimensional forms as well as notions of subjectivity in the perception of our likeness.
Historical art works, kindly lent by Tomasso Brothers, London & Leeds, that illustrate portraiture throughout history
3D printed Messerschmidt inspired busts at Royal Academy of Arts. Image © David Parry
The Veronica Scanner is able to capture any facial expression in just four seconds. The rendering of extreme expressions is notoriously difficult to achieve in portraiture.
A visitor inside the Veronica Scanner at the Royal Academy of Arts. Image © David Parry
Capturing Reality’s software, Reality Capture, was used on site to align the 96 photographs of each head, to produce the digital 3D models which replicate every feature of the face in intricate detail. Some of these models were materialised through subtractive (computer controlled wood carving) and additive (3D printing) processes and added to a growing display of busts produced with data from the exhibition. Each scanned visitor was sent their high resolution digital file in formats suitable for 3D printing and for viewing online. Some visitors went on to produce their bust in various materials including 3D printed resin, bronze and plaster.
Pedro Miró & Enrique Esteban from Factum Arte post-processing the data at the Royal Academy. Image © David
At the second location in Waddesdon Manor, the project welcomed an exciting new addition thanks to iMakr: the ROKIT INVIVO Hybrid Bio Printer, a 3D printer capable of printing organic material and live cells. The Bio printer was presented to the public for two days, printing ears, noses and other body parts with data from the Veronica Scanner, in a skin like material. This was a rare opportunity to engage with the forefront of 3D printing technology as the printer is currently only available for research purposes. The Veronica Scanner was also modified to accommodate children, allowing for a richer database of faces and expressions.
The ROKIT INVIVO Hybrid Bio Printer; a 3D printer capable of printing organic material and live cells.
Children and families visiting the exhibition at Waddesdon Manor´s Coach House Gallery
We want to thank our partners, the Rothschild Foundation and the Royal Academy of Arts, for supporting the development of the project. We also wish to thank our generous sponsors: iMakr, Capturing Reality, Autodesk, the Bartlett School of Architecture and Tomasso Brothers.
For more information on how the scanner works, click here.
To download the 2013 and 2016 Factum Foundation books click here.
Find out what the press said about the Royal Academy exhibition here.
To watch the film about the Veronica Scanner at the RA, featuring a conversation between Factum Foundation’s founder, Adam Lowe, Pippa Shirley (Head of Collections, Waddesdon Manor) and Tim Marlow (Artistic Director, RA) please click here.Click here to read the long text panels used at the Veronica Exhibition in both locations.
Please click the image below for the Veronica Scanner: Live 3D Portraiture booklet:
The Veronica Scanner: Live 3D Portraiture was the result of a collaboration between the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation, the Rothschild Foundation and the Royal Academy of Arts, London. 3D printers were provided and operated by iMakr (MyMiniFactory), software for processing on-site provided by Capturing Reality, Ember: Precision Desktop 3D Printer and virtual online gallery provided by Autodesk, original artworks lent by Tomasso Brothers, London & Leeds.