I just came back from a vacation where Kio and I went and visited most of the megalithic monuments on the islands of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Stone circles are all over the place on these islands and the biggest one is the Callanish Stone Circle. One of the cool things about these places is that there is very little history known about them and so all you can know about them is from your experience of being around them. Most of them all taller than me and you get the sense that these places were the sacred spaces of 5000 years ago.
One of the things I say a lot at MakerBot is that they really make the most sense when you connect your MakerBot to your passion. Since I'm into rocks. I scanned a few of my favorite stones and ran them through 123D Catch which makes a 3D model from up to 70 photos of the object. It’s pretty cool to think that yesterday I was walking among these stones and today I’m printing them out on the MakerBots in my office.
It’s interesting to note that this feels a lot like the old days of vacation film photography. The process of processing the photos into a 3D model feels a lot like when I used to develop celluloid film after a vacation.
Someday, printing 3D models will be normal for everyone, for now, it’s just normal for all the MakerBot operators in the world.
If you decide to go on your own scanning vacation, aka scancation, here’s my process and tips for acquiring models. I use a Canon S110 camera and then upload my photos later to the 123D Catch site and then upload all the models and a zip file of all the photos to Thingiverse because the photogrammetry software will get better someday and I want to have an archive of the photos so I can make better models later.
- Lighting conditions matter. A cloudy sky is much better than a sunny one so that you can get all the details of your subject.
- Fill the frame, but make sure to leave some area around the object in the picture. 123D Catch uses reference points in the object to make everything fit together.
- Use all 70 pictures allowed by the software. The more pictures, the better the scan.
- Scan weird things. Sometimes the most iconic stuff of a location isn’t the most obvious. Some friends of mine scanned all of Canal St. in NYC and said the interesting parts were the giant piles of trash bags which are one of the local overlooked pieces of landscape art.
- Don’t forget the top view. If you are capturing a subject that is tall, do your best to get above it and take a picture. A quadcopter could be handy for that.
- Fix it up with Netfabb. After I upload the photos into the 123D Catch online portal, then I use Netfabb basic to slice off all the weird parts and cut a flat bottom onto the object.
- Make sure to upload your scans to Thingiverse. We can all make models of your SCANCATION.