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Gallery: 3D Scans in Hollywood and Hospitals

3D Celebrities

Big Bang Theory 3D scans

(Image credit: Artec Group)

A Luxembourg-based company, called Artec, makes handheld 3D scanners, which have been used in everything from Hollywood films to medicine to archaeology. Above: 3D scans of characters from "The Big Bang Theory".

The Big Bang Theory

scanning actors

(Image credit: Artec Group)

The scanners create a digital model of a real object, which can then be uploaded to a computer and tweaked using design software. Above: The character Howard from "The Big Bang Theory" gets scanned.

World War Z

WWZ 3D scans

(Image credit: Artec Group)

Artec's 3D scanners have been used in films including "World War Z," "The Chronicles of Narnia," "Skyfall," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Harry Potter."

Zombie scans

WWZ 3D scans

(Image credit: Artec Group)

The 3D scanners are designed to be used on inanimate objects or people standing still, Artec officials said. And many scanned objects can later be 3D-printed.

3D Scanner

3d scanner

(Image credit: Artec Group)

The scanners project light in a pattern of horizontal and vertical lines onto a surface, while cameras analyze the light to detect the object. One camera captures the object's geometry, and the other captures its texture or color. The scanner stitches these images together by matching them edge-to-edge to create a 360-degree model.

Scanning the body

3D back scan

(Image credit: Artec Group)

Hollywood isn't the only place these scanners are in use. Hospitals use them for medical applications, such as making body scans to create custom orthotics or prosthetics, or for plastic surgery.

Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.