3D scanning does a ton of work in the background in a slew of fields, with far wider applications than most people realize. Hands down, the best scans to admire usually come from the entertainment industry, where the art of high-resolution 3D scanning has been perfected in a way that overwhelms the eye. Here are the 6 coolest 3D scans we’ve ever seen.

1. 3D Scan LA

Take a look at this wicked comparison image from 3DScanLA showing the photographic images captured during photogrammetry below the matching angles of the resulting 3D scan. People make for some of the most engaging scan objects, and nonchalantly concealed swords are a bonus! Our mandatory Hollywood nod, 3DScanLA is one of the best in the business, creating incredibly precise base scans for the entertainment industry’s myriad schemes and dreams.

You might think photogrammetry rigs designed for medical and biomedical use would be more intense than those for artistic purposes, but this isn’t the case. A typical rig for medical use may only consist of a 12-camera body scanning system, while those designed for CG purposes can be decked out with anywhere from 40 to 170 cameras. Photogrammetry rigs work by mounting multiple cameras onto a rigid frame, like a cage, around a subject. Each camera is paired with an LED light to ensure even illumination. Firmware installed on each camera allows for synchronized release, with the push of a button on a single remote control. From there, 3D scanning software takes over to build a model from the captured information.

2. Ten 24 Digital Capture

Located in Sheffield South Yorkshire, this scanning studio boasts a 170 Canon 100D camera photogrammetry setup called the T170 Capture Stage and claims to be one of the most advanced photogrammetry systems in the world. This claim has traction! The Capture Stage features an extruded aluminium frame, artificial floor, isolated capture stage, and most importantly, forty of the rig’s cameras are integrated in a head capture system, built on years of research and development. This integration allows extreme details of heads and faces to be captured simultaneously with the body in one 3D model scan.

Company directors James Busby and Chris Rawlinson have over twenty years experience as artists in the gaming industry, and Ten 24 has been going strong for six years, racking up a prestigious resume of work in the entertainment world: some highlights include scanning digital face replacements for stunt doubles on Kingsman – The Secret Service, creating cool effects in Dr. Who, and providing high res animation ready characters for Alien Isolation.

The scan we’ve picked for this list is from a project titled Capturing the Apocalypse, that the company conducted as a test of their equipment. It features raw scan data without clean-up, decimated to 1 million polygons. Although they have a rigorous clean-up protocol when scanning for clients, Ten 24 prides itself on having developed a capture stage that requires negligible clean-up of scans afterwards. A lot of scans showcased on their website are in their raw state, without touch-ups.

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3. E-Orange 3D Scanning

Take it from us – trying to create 3D photos of moving subjects like children or pets is nearly impossible, but the 93 DSLR Cameras Scanning System used by Wei Hsuan Liao of E-orange 3D Scanning, comes wonderfully close. His Shapeways portfolio is filled with action shots of sports, high kicks, and parents interacting with their small children.

4. PortableRockArt

Some of the most impressive scanning work we’ve seen accomplished with our Matter and Form 3D scanner comes from BevelPix user PortableRockArt. The level of geometric detail and visual interest in these rock formations, along with their beautifully nuanced colour texture makes them a stand-out. Considering the cost of even a rudimentary photogrammetry setup, it’s good to remember the high bar that can be set by a professional and affordable 3D scanner.

5. Blom – 3D Model of Kungälv

Blom represents a different realm of the 3D scanning world, specializing in aerial applications of LIDAR, a kind of 3D laser scanner tech capable of capturing huge territories and landscapes. Blom is a leading service provider in the geographic modelling business and they share a lot of their finished work on YouTube. They also maintain unique European databases with collections of maps, images and models. They work with government and enterprise companies doing ground and mobile surveys, mapping and modelling, and even environmental consultancy.

We wanted to include one of their videos on our list, for their photographic realism and the intoxicating feeling of freedom in a sustained aerial view.

6. City of Launceston by Stuart Attenborrow

In July, 2017 the City of Launceston in Tasmania, Australia, released a dataset of the central city as a scanned mesh complete with textures. Stuart Attenborrow took it upon himself to convert the dataset into a more user friendly format, and boy are we impressed with his results! A Blender artist for over seven years, Attenborrow had to do some scripting to be able to work with the data in his preferred program. Originally delivered in the Open Scene Graph Binary format, the data was converted first into OBJ files, then a series of Blender python scripts to prepare and join the tiles together in Blender, transferring the data into FBX to collect license and readme files, and then into Sketchup for geolocation. When everything was zipped and ready for delivery, the final step was to create a single page static site using Google Maps. Amazing!

3D scanning is capable of capturing a high level of precision, revealing figures, landscapes and elements of the natural world to us in great digital detail and depth. Whether you’re aiming at the world with LIDAR from a low flying plane, or scanning something cool with a desktop 3D scanner, there’s something thrilling about getting so close to reality with 3D capture.

Learn More About 3D Scanning on Our Blog:

  1. How to Make Your Own 3D Company Mascot
  2. What are 3D Scanners Used For?
  3. 3D Scanning for Artists: How a 3D Scanner Launched a Jewelry Business
  4. The Future of Museums: Transform Artifacts into Accessible 3D Scans
  5. 3D Scanning in Art: 6 Stunning Art Exhibits Made with 3D Scanners
  6. 3D Scanning Art: An Ancient Art Mystery Solved by 3D Scanning
  7. 3 Next-Level 3D Scanning Art Projects