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The movies have always provided us with plenty of fantasy, thanks to things like special effects and make-up. Because of the people who are skilled in these fields, we’re transported to other worlds, can soar back (or forth in time), and can imagine all sorts of interesting stories…all thanks to the magic of films!

In days gone by, most of the magic was attributed to a great make-up artist or a phenomenal model maker. Later, as the decades waned, computers and other devices that created special effects added to the awesomeness of the things we view on the screen.

Today, 3D technology and 3D scanning play a huge role in making a wide variety of objects, artifacts, and creatures look so real, like the monsters that haunt our dreams or the other fantastical objects that fill us with such delight as we watch a much-anticipated film.

3D technology, including scanning and printing, has been used more and more in the movie industry during these last several years. This technology has become a favorite with filmmakers and certainly with prop makers as well, saving them a wealth of time usually spent searching for props or items they need and saving plenty of money as well.

The impact of 3D scanning on films

Of course, moviemakers want those of us sitting in the theater or at home on our sofas to be awed by their movie’s realism. And 3D technology has helped bring that realism to fruition! By scanning costumes, props, and all sorts of other items, our eyes are being fooled to believe that what we’re looking at is the real thing, whether it’s a historic artifact, a strange being, or even a building that’s not really there. With 3D technology, the detail is so amazing that it’s hard to imagine, for example, that Thor’s hammer in the Marvel movie series was printed on a 3D printer!

Indeed, 3D scanning and printing greatly improves the manufacturing process for props. Consider, for example, Jurassic World, and think about the number of bones and fossils you viewed for the 2 hours during which you watched that movie. To make those look so realistic, they weren’t created by hand. Real dinosaur bones and skeletons were scanned and then produced on a 3D printer. As a result, these look as close to real as is humanly possible.

3D scanning and printing for costumes is growing in popularity as well. And the more elaborate the better! This kind of manufacturing allows costume designers to avoid the mold-making process, which takes far more time, is cumbersome, and eats up plenty of money in the film’s costume budget. Conversely, 3D technology is fast and far less costly.

Different kinds of 3D scanners

Of course, applications for 3D scanning in the movie industry vary greatly and it’s likely that not the same scanner (or kind of scanner) can be used for all the different objects that require scanning. Nevertheless, filmmakers or prop masters are looking for the highest quality 3D digital data they can muster.

That means high-resolution scanners are needed to scan items that are extremely intricate and detailed. These scanners will measure thousands of points per second so that the end result resembles the original as much as possible.

Some objects might not require such a high resolution. As such, they are scanned with a scanner that can be used for items that don’t possess much detail. These scanners don’t measure as many points and the resulting 3D print takes a lot less time to produce. They’re also less costly.

Sometimes, a hand-held scanner is the right choice when considering a scanner for movie industry props or costumes. This portable scanner is great in that it can be moved around to capture the object from a variety of angles. They’re ideal for scanning hard-to-reach places as well. Furthermore, they’re lightweight and easy to carry around and aren’t terribly expensive.

Conversely, stationary scanners remain in one location. They are usually mounted on an arm or some sort of tripod. When it’s time to scan an object with this type of scanner, the object is placed on a turntable that rotates so that the stationary scanner can capture it from a variety of angles. It’s ideal for small objects or those that are portable and easy to handle.


Clearly, 3D technology has certainly enhanced our movie-going experience and has made many aspects of filmmaking easier. If you’re in the movie industry, whether full-time or part-time, and want to know more about how 3D scanning can save you both time and money, contact the experts at 604-910-0165 for a no-obligation consultation.