Fancy your very own 3-D figure?

HOLD IT! This composite photograph shows the process of acquiring data by scanning Mrs Rie Shimizu's entire body with a 3-D scanner. Several gigabytes of data are recorded during each scan.


    Feb 12, 2014

    Fancy your very own 3-D figure?


    FOR about five minutes, the woman stands as still as possible while a man passes a hand-held device around her whole body. When the ordeal is over, she sighs with relief.

    This happens at a studio that makes 3-D figures in the Ichigaya district of Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, in Japan. Both the woman and the man, who wields a 3-D scanner, were deadly serious because precise data cannot be recorded if the model moves during the process.

    Sony Music Communications started selling the 3-D Print Figure product last year, in which a figure is sculpted using full-colour 3-D scanners.

    To create the figure, the scanner first obtains data through the scanning of a person from head to toe.

    Then a computer models the data and outputs images through a 3-D printer using colour ink, special bonding materials and white plaster powder.

    The price for a figure ranges from 49,000 yen (S$610) to 120,000 yen, depending on the size.

    According to Mr Yosuke Takuma, who planned this business for Sony Music Communications, the 3-D figures are popular among people who want to mark special occasions, such as weddings and matriculation ceremonies.

    It takes about two months to produce a 3-D Print Figure.

    Mr Makoto Shimizu and his wife-to-be Rie, who plan to hold their wedding ceremony in Osaka this month, visited the studio.

    "We want to welcome our guests at the wedding in an unusual way and thought it would be a good idea for figures just like us to hold boards welcoming them," Mr Shimizu said.

    Mr Koji Iwabuchi and his wife Yumi visited the studio to order figures to commemorate their 20th wedding anniversary.

    "It's like photography at the end of the Edo period (1603-1867) as we cannot move at all," Mr Iwabuchi said.

    "It's interesting to feel like Sakamoto Ryoma. In the future, it might become an ordinary thing, but it's fun that few people have experienced this," he said.

    Ryoma (1836-1867), an Edo-period figure who envisioned a Japan free from feudal rule, is also known as the subject of some famous photos from that time.

    Mr Iwabuchi said: "However, as everything is reproduced very accurately, including body shape, hair texture and wrinkles in the clothing, it would be great if they retouched the figure slightly."

    Said Mr Takuma: "No matter how advanced the technology is, the quality of the figures ultimately depends on the analog skills of the people involved, such as how quickly and well technicians scan subjects, how much experience they have in adjusting scanned data, how much time they spend on the work or how good their finishing touches are."