Smithsonian Creates 3D Portrait of President Obama Using 14 Cameras and 50 LED Lights (VIDEO)

Giving a more modern twist to tradition, a team of digital imaging specialists from the Smithsonian Institute created a 3D portrait of President Barack Obama using eight high-resolution sports cameras, six wide-angle cameras, and 50 custom-designed LED lights.

The result is the highest resolution digital model of a head of state yet, the Smithsonian said. Digital technicians then took the 3D rendering to create a bust and life mask of the president.

Rather than using stone or plaster, the items were crafted from a durable plastic material and the sculptor was a 3D printer that used the high-resolution data produced by the scans. Due to the very high level of life-like detail (down to visible wrinkles and skin texture), the bust alone took nearly 40 hours to complete and contains 5000 layers of plastic. The bust and life mask were recently on display for an event held at the White House and will soon become part of the National Portrait Gallery collection.

The project was proposed to the White House nearly a year ago and once they obtained permission to proceed, the detailed scanning process took less than five minutes to complete yet yielded impressive results. This group also created 3D scans and print replicas of the original Lincoln life masks—items that are very popular with museum visitors of all ages.

Watch the fascinating video below on how they did it.