In 1999, the world met computer programmer, Thomas A. Anderson, better known as his alter ego, bad-to-the-bone hacker Neo, in the movie, The Matrix.
The special effects in this film were (and pretty much still are) incredible, the most memorable involving Neo dodging a bullet, his body’s reaction to the speeding projectile is captured in the round by dozens of cameras, giving the audience a 360° view of the incredible action sequence.
Since the film’s debut, this multiple-angle photography, better known as “bullet time,” has been embraced by companies like German-born Twinkind, who have used the technology to develop their own 360° scanning systems. Pairing it with 3D printing, Twinkind creates incredibly real, miniaturized statuettes of…you!
The creators of this “twinning” system, Kristina Neurohr and Timo Schaedel, were first inspired to develop their concept after encountering Omote, a Tokyo pop-up shop printing small, lifelike figurines using 3D printing technology.
Enamoured of the concept but feeling that the scanning process used by the Japanese start-up took too long – it required standing still for 15 minutes – the two Germans decided to make it better.
First, they whittled down the 3D imaging time from 15 minutes to 1/5000 of a second, meaning broader possibilities for scanning things like pets, small children or any other being that doesn’t normally sit still for long.
Then the team integrated elements of photogrammetry to complete their rapid, custom scanner.
“Part of our technology is similar to what many know from the Matrix Effect,” says Twinkind. “The multi-camera system is based on photogrammetry principles – guaranteed no harm to your body.”
In its simplest form, photogrammetry is a process in which photography is used to take measurements determining the exact position and shape of an object by defining its surface points. This information is then transformed into a three-dimensional image via computer.
So, what is the procedure for turning “me” into a “mini-me?”
First, Twinkind asks that you make an appointment; the catch being you must show up in person. At present, the only Twinkind studio in existence is located in Hamburg, Germany. Neurohr and Schaedel plan on expanding their business after experiencing high demand for their tiny statues, but have yet to say where or when.
If you are able to get to Hamburg, then you can proceed onto step two: the shoot.
Because Twinkind has sped up the digital scanning process, people and reasonably sized – meaning not too large – pets are eligible to be made into miniature versions of themselves. Prices vary from €99 for a 7.5cm sculpture up to €695 for a 35cm sculpture.
Once at the studio and in position, the scanning process can begin. The custom-engineered photogrammetry 3D scanner sweeps over your motionless frame and in a split-second, all 360 degrees of you are re-created – clothes, hair, shoes and all – in digital form.
This digital image is then sent to a state-of-the-art colour 3D printer to engrave a new, miniaturized you through a sintering process, which builds your twin using a composite material. According to the Twinkind website: “Powder is used to build the layers and subsequent layers are melted as new powder is added, resulting in a final, 3-D printed image.”
The texture of the printed 3D image is clay-like but not as durable as plastic so it must be handled and stored with “extreme caution”.
Voxel by voxel (a combination of volume and pixel – the 3D equivalent of a pixel), you are reborn into a perfect, shrunken representation of yourself. Dishevelled or prim and proper, Twinkind immortalizes you, in the now.
The little statues that come out of the printer are so real you expect them to start walking and talking. Facial expressions, wrinkles, lay of the hair and body dimensions are perfectly proportionate, almost scarily so.
As amazing as Twinkind’s custom technology is, it also comes with limitations. Delicate fabrics such as chiffons and silks cannot be replicated on a large scale, nor can highly polished objects, like leather shoes. However, these features can be reproduced after the printing at extra cost.
Also, detailed patterns on clothing should be avoided because they can confuse the scanning system and small accessories, like glasses and belts must be printed separately but can be incoporated later.
Because of their popularity, the delivery period for the figurines is anywhere between two to six weeks. The company says with good care, they should last a lifetime.
In this new form of tangible photography, Twinkind hopes that their life-like 3-D printed images will soon usher in a new way to freeze a moment in time. “We do believe that 3-D photo figurines will become a well-regarded addition to our photography culture,” says Schaedel.
For more information about Twinkind, please visit: http://www.twinkind.com/en/landing.