3D Scanning Made Easy

If you have a Kinect, you have a 3D scanner
If you have a Kinect, you have a 3D scanner

The Xbox 360 Kinect is a great tech tool that can be hacked to function as a 3D Scanner. This scanner can be used by just about any computer with a supporting graphics card. For Windows users, you may need to download the associated NVIDIA drivers.


What You Will Need




Helpful Tips:

  • I would really recommend having a Kinect handle as it makes it easier to control and hold onto the Kinect. If you have access to a 3D printer, you can print the same one we use and recommend: Kinect Handle by tart2000 on Thingiverse.
  • There are also two different versions of Skanect to choose from, a paid and non-commercial free version. The free version offers basic functionality, while the paid version allows for commercial use as well as minor updates throughout the year.


How to Take a 3D Scan

Getting Kinected 

Ensure that your drivers and software are installed and that all are up to date. Once you have done so, connect the Kinect to your Computer and fire up Skanect. Your Kinect will have to be plugged in initially before you fire up Skanect in order for the program to recognize it.

You can tell if Skanect recognizes your Kinect if the Freenect Sensor in the right hand corner is green.

GettingKinected2 GettingKinected1

Modifying Settings

When taking a 3D scan, there are a couple different things that you want to ensure are being taken into account:

  1. Set your Bounding Box and scene. Keep in mind, though, that the larger the Bounding Box, the less detail your scan will have.
    • For regular busts of individuals, my go-to settings are a Bounding Box of 2.7 x 2.7 x 2.7 meters, with the Scene set to Body. This is about 8.9 feet cubed, and allows some room for error in my start, in case I start scanning too far away from the individual.ModifyingSettings1
  2. Under Prepare – > Settings, change your Recording Feedback from ‘None’ to CPU or GPU.
    • If GPU is not crossed out (as mine is), choose GPU. This will enhance your imaging when the mesh is reconstructed after the scan, and hopefully allow you to not lose any pieces of your mesh.ModifyingSettings2
  3. Now, go back to New, and press Start. It is now time to prep our Scan!


Prepping the Scan

Prepping a scan involves setting the distance at which you’re going to start, and also where you would like your individual to be at.

At DHF, we have a designated scanning area, where individuals stand at a specific point. At this point, no other objects are near the individual as to not interfere with the scan.



Things to Keep in Mind

Aim your Kinect at a central point of the individual
For full body scans, I generally start at the waist. This ensures that I am scanning straight, and not at a tilted angle. I tend to use the FPS readout at the bottom of the screen as the measure of the middle.

Be aware of the FPS
The FPS readout at the bottom will let you know if you’re going too fast or too slow. You generally want to be in between 18-24 FPS. Anything more or less may throw your Kinect out of focus, causing you to lose the current position. Float forwards and back, up and down at a steady pace for the best results.

Green is good, red is bad, sometimes!
Green means your object has been scanned at that area, whereas red indicates that area has not been picked up on. This more than likely is a depth issue… move back!

  • Below is an example of being too close to the individual.bad
  • Below is an example of being too far away from the individual.GoodExposure
  • The following is an example of a good exposure.Good
    • Sometimes I passed over areas twice to make sure all was taken in before I finally hit the stop button. You want to find the right balance of close, but not too far away. Slowly move forward and backward until you find that right balance.


Lights, Scanners, ACTION

Once you are fully prepped and ready, hit the Record button at the top left and your 3 second default delay will kick in.

The thumbs up is given, start your scans!

If you’re like me, your first initial scan is going to go awry. This may be due to a variety of things, but more than likely it’s because you were either moving too fast while scanning, or you were too close or too far from the individual you were scanning. Simply reposition, and try it again!



Finishing your Scan

Once your scan is finished, press the Record button again. Your scan may have some holes and look rough initially. Luckily, Skanect comes with some tools to clean this up.



First, let’s perform an offline reconstruction of the model. This will take only the frames that are deemed as good from the previous scan. This way, instead of having the live reconstruction as you did before, your CPU/GPU can do all of the hard work for you and reconstruct your model as perfectly as possible. You will do this under Reconstruct tab, going to Fusion and selecting CPU or GPU (GPU preferably if it is an option available). Set your Fidelity to the ‘Medium’ by default. If you have a computer with strong processing power, set your Fidelity to ‘High’. This will maximize the quality of your print.


Now, let’s make our object watertight. To do this, we will navigate to Process, and then click ‘Watertight’. Set ‘Smoothing’ to ‘Medium’ and press Run. I chose to remove colors. To do so, find Color in the left sidebar select ‘Remove Colors’.


Now your mesh is ready to be exported.


Exporting your Mesh

To export your mesh, under Share navigate to Export Model, select your file format.


Congrats, you have finished your very first 3D Scan!


Now that you have finished your Scan, you may still need to clean up your file. To do so, we will use MeshMixer. It is a free 3D Mesh editing application. Shawn has made a video that will show you how to clean up your Designs in MeshMixer so that you can 3D print your busts.


3D scanning is a very fun, involved activity. With a little bit of tinkering, you will be able to have your very own 3D figure.


If you run into any issues, feel free to send me an email at adam@digitalharbor.org


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