There’s no denying that many people love figurines, action figures, etc., whether they are used for play acting or to just keep on a shelf or display cabinet. One of the most interesting companies whose booth I visited at PhotoPlus Expo 2018 in New York City was Twindom. They make Full Body 3D Scanners that can capture images in about a quarter of a second in a high-tech photo booth. Those scans can then be used to create 3D figurines. The samples they showed were AMAZING, and I decided to have a scan done at the show with my good friend Ron Wyatt. We are usually on the other side of the camera, but this was too much fun not to try! Below is a photo that I took of the final product, which is a seven inch figurine.
My overall impression of it is WOW! I’ve seen a lot of action figures over the years, and even with millions of dollars of equipment at their disposal, they usually fall short (in a big way) in representing the action hero or superhero’s facial features. In the sample they sent to me, it definitely looked like me and my friend to my eyes, and the truly amazing part is the color accuracy and how the folds of the clothing are rendered. If I were to describe the texture of the figurine, it would be like that of sandstone.
Important note: I was curious how many people and/or pets can be captured in one 3D full-body scan using the system, and I received some information from Twindom, which may or may not be 100% applicable depending upon where and when you have your scan done. If you have a small dog, cat, baby or small child that’s being held in someone’s arms, then you can still have four people in addition to the baby or pet. If there are already four people in the scan, a pet on a leash might still be able to fit in the scanning area, and there may be an extra charge for the touch-up and additional material that would be used for the figurine. Just to be sure, I would ask about the number of people and/or pets that can be in the scan before going to the location to have a scan done.
If I have anything negative to say about the final “print” as they call it, it’s that there are some faint vertical lines going through my shirt and some other areas, which is something that can happen with the printing process. That being said, at least in my case, the lines look as though they could have been a part of the design of my shirt, and under typical room lighting, they almost disappear. In other areas where I can see faint lines, they are extremely faint and I can’t see them at all under most typical lighting. I took the “selfie” photo above in strong afternoon daylight to show as much of the detail as possible.
Twindom also offers its clients (those who purchase their scanning system and provide the scanning service) the ability to order the figurines for their clients (the end customer) with a number of different options. People can also be sent a link to order figurines themselves, but I’m not sure if all providers allow this option. A few of the options I noticed when checking the ordering page shown below include:
• Ability to choose a figurine size from 3-14 inches.
• Ability to have your figurine placed on a white base. I would highly recommend this for most people because the figurines can fall over fairly easily without a base. This adds about $15-30 to the overall cost depending on the size of the figurine, but I noticed that at least one company includes this in their pricing for some sizes.
• Ability to choose TwinProtect™ coating, which gives the figurine a semi-gloss finish and also protects it more than if it had no coating. The coating adds about $20-30 to the overall cost depending on the size of the figurine, but like the base, I noticed that at least one company includes this in their pricing for some sizes.
• Ability to choose between a crystal and 3D print. If you’ve visited a mall in the last five years, you’ve probably seen images embedded inside of crystal.
• Ability to choose from full body, half-body or bust (some companies may not offer that option).
With a base added, the 7 inch figurine that Twindom created for me and that’s pictured above would cost about $259. I think the smallest size (3 inches) could work well as a wedding cake topper (though 6-7 inch figurines would make more of a statement). A three-inch figurine would cost $109-$130 depending on the options you choose. I would consider the prices I just mentioned “list prices,” because I’ve seen a range of different prices for all sizes depending on where and when you have the scans done and figurines made.
WHERE TO HAVE YOURSELF “CLONED”
If you’d like to have a scan done of you and/or your loved one (I think pets are ideal subjects for this), there are some pop-up installations at Bloomingdale’s stores in New York City and San Francisco this holiday season (until 12/30/2018). You can find the addresses for the stores and a link to book an appointment here. I would not recommend just showing up to make an appointment, but you can always call the store and ask what’s best. There are a number of other locations around the world. Here are a few in the United States that the company shared with me:
And here is a company in Japan who offers the service. Their site has a lot of photos of different figurines that show how the technology is being used.
Here’s a video overview of the scanning and printing process:
I found Twindom’s website to be very informative for those who are interested in finding out how to set up a 3D photo studio. According to their website, the cost of a system is US$29,995, plus a $299/month Cloud Subscription. That’s certainly not inexpensive, but I think it’s a very interesting business opportunity.
This technology seems to me like it would be a great option for artists to create limited edition pieces for sale (it’s probably being done already!). It reminds me a bit of the Polaroid 20×24 camera system because you can’t just take a photo with any camera and send out for prints. Here’s a great video about the 20×24 Polaroid process in case you are curious.
Overall, based on my hands-on experience, I highly recommend the Twindom scanning and printing process. Please let me know if you have a scan done. I’d love to see a photo of you in 3D!
Full disclosure: Twindom sent the figurine pictured above to me so that I could write this review. I received no other compensation for this review.
2019 UPDATE! Looking for a Free Expo Pass for the 2019 PhotoPlus Expo being held in New York City from 10/24-26, 2019? Check out my article about the 2019 show HERE. Or to go right to the page with the free passes (available online until Wed. 10/23 and then $25 on-site at the show), visit THIS PAGE.
It’s that time again! The PhotoPlus Expo 2018 is returning to New York City from Thursday, 10/25 to Saturday, 10/27/2018. It’s always one of the highlights of my year, and if you are interested in just about anything related to photography and/or video, I think you’ll really enjoy the show. It’s the largest photography trade show in North America (over 200 exhibitors), and it’s always filled with gear, free expo floor talks, model and still-life photo opportunities, photo walks, workshops, and much more. I should also note that even if you can’t attend the show, you can sign up for updates on the show site (link to the show newsletter is on the bottom right of PhotoPlusExpo.com) to get news updates and special offers from PDN (Photo District News) and photo-related companies.
With that, I have a few items to share with you below. The first is a short video overview of the show which should give you a feel for what you might see and experience at the show. Also, here’s a link to a great article about the show from the folks at Fstoppers, one of my favorite photo blogs. That article also has a code for a free three-day trade show pass when you register online, as well as info on how to save if you decide to sign up for any of the workshops or related opportunities that are available. However, the Conference Pass is completely optional. I’ve found the paid conference seminars to be excellent, but there are many educational opportunities available right on the show floor.
And this year, for the second time, the PhotoPlus Expo will be co-located with the NYVR Expo. Your Expo pass allows you to see what they have on their show floor.
A FEW QUICK TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST FROM THE SHOW
The ability to see different papers, print processes, try out different cameras, lenses and other equipment on the show floor are main reasons why many people come to the show. I highly recommend bringing a few extra SD and/or CF cards to put in any cameras that you’d like to test out so that you can bring the photos/videos home with you (just make sure they don’t have important images on them and make sure the cards are not too important/expensive, because you may forget them when you move to the next booth!).
I also recommend having a card with a few high-res images that you’d like to have printed if the opportunity presents itself. Also, I highly recommend having a safe and dust-free place for your current lens to go while you are testing other lenses (if you are putting lenses on your camera, which is a perfect way to see if a specific lens might be right for you). And to keep track of papers, printers and print processes that you see and that you’d like to check out after the show, I recommend having a notebook and pen ready to jot down your favorites (or you can do that digitally via a notes app or by sending yourself text messages. Keeping track of all the names can get confusing!
PREVIOUS SHOW REPORTS
SPECIAL NOTE – EPSON PRINT ACADEMY
This year (like last year) Epson will host their “Print Academy” in Booth #707. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from many icons in the world of image editing, printing and photography. The people who are scheduled to speak (schedule shown below) are: Vincent Versace, Julieanne Kost, Matt Kloskowski, John Paul Caponigro and Mac Holbert. I’m honored to say that Mac Holbert is one of the guest artists featured in my book, 301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques. To see the full release about the Epson Print Academy (including some special glasses they’ll be demonstrating for drone photography), visit this page.
AN EXHIBITION NOT TO BE MISSED
This year, there will be an exhibition of art prints at Icon Gallery (Booth #1103) by John Paul Caponigro and NYC Dance Project’s Ken Browar and Deborah Ory. If the exhibition is anything like last year’s show that featured the work of Robert Farber (a photo can be seen below from that exhibition), it will be spectacular.
The exhibition prints and finishing from the 2017 and 2018 Icon Gallery shows were produced by Blazing Editions (they are in Booth #1113 at this year’s show). It’s difficult to express in words the quality of the printing and finishing (mounting, framing, custom cutting, etc.) by Blazing Editions. I highly recommend taking some time to visit the show, as well as the Blazing Editions booth. They specialize in metal printing, and they have samples of the same image printed using different finishes, which can help a lot when deciding on the look for a particular project that you (or possibly one of your clients) might have in mind.
The PhotoPlus Expo only comes around once a year, and I hope to see you there!
All the best,
P.S. I also welcome you to join any of our Meetup Groups if you would like to be invited to attend other events like photo walks, workshops, etc. in the future.
P.P.S In case you missed that link to the Fstoppers article to find the code for the free 2018 PhotoPlus Expo trade show pass, here it is.
P.P.P.S. If you don’t receive my ImagingBuffet.com newsletter updates and would like to receive them, as well as some Lightroom and workflow videos, you can sign up here.
For the past 15 years or so I’ve been helping people organize, backup and print their photographs. And the one thing that has been a challenge for almost everyone (including me!) is keywording. It’s just not a lot of fun (for most people) to go through thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of images and videos and assign appropriate keywords to them. But keywording images and videos can pay huge dividends in the long run because having a collection with good keywords means that you can more easily find images for personal projects, client work and stock photography licensing.
Face recognition inside of Lightroom and other programs has helped quite a bit, but it’s far from perfect. And of course, not every photo has a recognizable person in it, so we have been faced with a problem in need of a solution. Until now.
The solution I’m referring to is a Lightroom Classic CC plug-in called Excire Search. And it does more than just automatically create keywords.
What it Does
Excire Search works via a Lightroom plug-in to “initialize” or look through your image collection one image at a time so that it can then use the image information to both create keywords and allow for creative searches by keyword or even via a sample image uploaded from your computer. It can initialize 10,000-20,000 images per hour (according to the software’s developer), but it depends on your system and whether you have already created Smart Previews. I didn’t time the process exactly, but Excire Search Pro initialized just over 400,000 images in my catalog on a MacBook Pro over a period of 4-6 days (I stopped the process a few times to take my computer with me, and I had very few Smart Previews in my catalog before starting the process). While it was initializing, I was still able to work on my computer and inside Lightroom. You can run a new initialization at any time, and it will quickly recognize which photos have already been initialized.
In case you’d like a quick look at how good the automatic keywording can be, I was very impressed by what the software came up with for one of my photos that included hot air balloons (click on the image to see the keywords much larger):
Installing the Excire Search Plug-in, setting preferences and starting the initialization process takes just a few minutes, but it can be a bit confusing. After downloading the plug-in (it’s available for Mac and Windows), I would recommend viewing the following videos for step-by-step instructions. I’ve also included a screen shot of the main settings below:
Caption: I chose to use the Fast initialization option because of the size of my catalog, but you might choose to uncheck that box if you make a lot of edits (especially if you convert a lot of images to black and white without first making Virtual Copies). Because I don’t use many stacks (stacks are very useful if you shoot a lot of panoramas in sections or multi-image HDRs), I unchecked the third box. And because I have generated a lot of Smart Previews over the years, I chose to “Prefer” them when initializing because the makers of the application say that can speed up the initialization process.
As you can see in the above video, searching by example photo is like magic! You just choose an image from your library (or an external image), then navigate to Library>Plug-in Extras>Search by Example Photo (or choose one of the other two Search by Example Photo options). Choosing Search by Example Photo with Previous will use the Previous Settings, such as how many results to display and whether to reference the example photo’s content or color. You can also search by Keyword or for Faces. In case you are wondering what “Update Photos” means (it’s the last item on the list under Excire Search), if you make large color or density changes (or convert images to black and white), you may want to choose the photos on which you made those edits and select “Update Photos.” The Excire Search engine will then look at those photos again and create new keywords.
The Faces dialog box is so incredible to me. You can choose from a wide variety of different criteria, including the number of faces, an age range, male/female, and even whether or not people are smiling. I’ve included a screen shot below, and in my testing, it was extremely good at showing me images that closely matched what I requested (click on the image below to see the dialog box much larger). That being said, it was better at distinguishing between male and female faces for adults compared with children, which is very understandable (even the iPhone X’s face detection is less accurate with children’s faces compared with adult faces).
Pricing, Language and Availability (Plus a Special Offer for Our Readers)
Excire Search is available in two configurations: Excire Search (US $69) and Excire Search Pro (US $119). The plug-ins are identical except for the fact that Excire Search Pro draws from a larger group of keywords (about 500 vs. 125), and it also offers the ability to transfer keywords (individually or in bulk) that it creates into the Keyword List inside of a Lightroom catalog. For my workflow, the ability to transfer keywords is essential, so I am using Excire Search Pro.
Currently, the software is available in English and German. If you’d like to test out Excire Search or Excire Search Pro, visit this page for a free, fully functional 15 day trial. Also, if you decide to purchase Excire Search Pro, the company created a special 10% discount code for my readers: Just enter “AndrewPro10” (no quotes) at checkout.
I also noticed this text from the company’s site re: giving back: “A small portion of every purchased Excire Search download will be held in a special fund for support to a variety of nonprofits in the United States market. We’ll be developing our own Giving Back Advisory Board who will help us decide each year on a different charity needing more support.”
It’s difficult to express how happy I am with Excire Search Pro. It was like someone out there was listening to my prayers. (turns out it was a lot of very smart engineers!). I was told that the company is always doing research and working on how they can improve the software, and I look forward to seeing how it develops over time.
One of the best things about the internet and blogs is that I can reference other articles about Excire Search that I found useful. One review of Excire search that’s at the top of my list is by Bryan Esler that appeared on the excellent photo website: photofocus.com. You can read his review here. I’ve also had the honor of having a number of my articles published on the site over the years. There’s also a comprehensive article by the people who make Excire Search on the topic of speed and accuracy with different technologies that automatically generate keywords. You can find that article here.
If you’d like to test out Excire Search or Excire Search Pro, visit this page for a free, fully functional 15 day trial. And if you like it and decide to purchase the plug-in, there’s a special 10% discount code for our readers: Just enter “AndrewPro10” (no quotes) at checkout.
(Full Disclosure: Apart from being provided a license code for Excire Search Pro, I was not compensated in any way for writing this article. Please note that this article may contain affiliate links to the Excire Search website, which means that I may be compensated if a purchase is made after clicking through or by using a promo code. If you would prefer not to use my links, just visit your favorite search engine and type in: “Excire Search.”