3-D photo booth makes a miniature you

By Heather Kelly, CNN

If you've always wanted a smaller replica of yourself, but are hesitant to commit to the cost and stress of parenthood, there is now an alternative. If you're in Tokyo, you can sit for a 3-D portrait.

Omote 3D Shashin Kan is a pop-up portrait studio that uses a handheld scanner to create a three-dimensional model of your entire body.  A 3-D printer then makes a small, intricately detailed plastic figurine. The final, full-color models look exactly like the larger you, down to the wrinkles on the clothes and part in the hair.

The 3D photo-booth project is part of a photography exhibition at the Eye of Gyre gallery in Tokyo's Harajuku neighborhood. It's the brainchild of PARTY, a young ad, branding and entertainment company based in New York and Tokyo.

"[The] photo studio is a very special place for Japanese families to shape their memories," explained Naoki Ito, PARTY's creative director.

    Ito says the idea was inspired by a Japanese custom called Shichi-Go-San, which is a festival that celebrates children coming of age. Japanese families often head to local photo studios for these types of big life events.

    "Our idea is to attempt to capture you and your family's portraits in 3D," said Ito.

    At the studio, you can order a small you in three different sizes: 3.9-inches (10cm), 5.9-inches (15cm) or 7.8-inches (20cm) tall. A pocket-sized person does not come cheap. Prices range from $264 (21,000 yen) to $528 (42,000 yen). The price tag is more reasonable when you think of them as miniature sculptures.

    If you buy in bulk -- three or more identical models -- the price per replica is lower, and you can have a portable like-minded friend for the car, home and office. They also make great stocking stuffers.

    There are some ground rules for subjects. It takes 15 minutes for the artists to scan your entire body, so you'll have to pick a comfortable pose that you can hold. The artists don't recommend bringing kids under six or pets, as they do not excel at staying still for long periods of time. You can't wear fluffy fabrics like fur, small detailed patterns like polka dots, shiny materials such as patent leather, and any accessory too detailed for the 3D printer to replicate such as earrings, glasses or bags.

    Unlike a traditional photo booth, there is no instant gratification. The models take about a month to complete.

    The studio is only open for a limited time, starting November 24 and going until January 14. The photo sessions require a reservation, and you have to book your appointment through the project's website.

    If you can't make it to Tokyo before it's over, don't worry, PARTY could be bringing its photo booth to a gallery near you.

    "We [are] considering the possibility of going on a world exhibition tour," said Ito, "and also planning to establish it as a permanent business in the future."

    The booth is just one of PARTY's many ongoing projects. The group's philosophy is that "new creations are born from new processes," and they're constantly experimenting with new creative techniques that combine design and technology.

    [Via Spoon & Tamago]