64 cameras for 1 mini statue

64 cameras for 1 mini statue

SINGAPORE - An established photography studio here has devised a novel and more efficient method to capture subjects, before 3-D-printing them into elaborate palm-sized gypsum statues.

The technique, believed to be the first in Asia, rigs 64 digital cameras in a studio to simultaneously snap the subject from all angles. These images are later processed for 3-D printing. Gypsum is a calcium- based substance.

This approach is far more precise in capturing the details of a person's appearance and is also a timesaver, says owner of Raffles Studio, Mr Phua Cheng Foo, 54, who has 37 years of experience in the industry.

"Our business has always been the traditional portrait, so we wanted to provide a new product and introduce something fresh to our customers," he tells SundayLife! in Mandarin.

It also helped that about 20 per cent of the $500,000 start-up cost for the studio was subsidised by the Productivity and Innovation Credit, a scheme which helps businesses invest in technology that improves productivity.

Each statue costs $650.

Checks with other 3-D printers here who make such figurines found that most use handheld scanners to scan a person.

But the process takes up to 10 minutes and requires the subject to remain still, which is a problem for fidgety children and the elderly.

Others ask customers to send multiple photos of themselves and get in-house artists to render a version for printing, but that method achieves at best 60 per cent likeness.

"With the new method, you can do more actions and we can capture more expressions and vitality in your face," says photographer Henry Tan, 59, who helped to develop and test the technique.

The studio, which is located in King George's Avenue near Lavender MRT station, began offering the new service to customers in July, after the team worked out the kinks.

It tried out the first few models for free on MediaCorp actors such as Zhang Zhenhuan.

"We wanted to do it well, so whatever wasn't good, we either scrapped or gave out for free," says Mr Phua.

The studio has already exhibited the new practice at a photography fair in Germany and response from other countries was strong, he adds.

For now, the new service has enthralled customers such as Ms Cheah Bee Choo, 54, who intends to display her $650 statue at work.

"I felt that it looked artistic and I wanted something that could capture my likeness, so I decided to invest in one," says Ms Cheah, who runs a hair treatment salon.

Project manager Frankie Chin, 55, stumbled upon the figurines while passing by the studio and his wife, sales promoter Julie Lee, 55, jumped at the chance to be immortalised in the form of these palm-sized statues.

The couple have paid for a pair for themselves and are thinking of ordering another two for their two children, Kegan, 21, and Lydia, 27.

"They're better and more life-like than photographs. My wife told me, 'We should do it, so they will have something to remember us by and hold in their hands, when we are gone'." 

jianxuan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 2, 2014.
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