Stamps student Annie Turpin came to the 3D Lab with an idea for her Sophomore studio project: She wanted to create a hologram system, similar to the 3D Lab’s “Pepper’s Pyramid” display, that would allow her to project a miniaturized version of herself into a pinhole camera.
The concept of Pepper’s Pyramid is derived from an illusion technique created by John Henry Pepper in 1862. Originally coined “Pepper’s Ghost”, the trick initially relied on a large pane of glass to reflect an illuminated room or person that was hidden from view. This gave the impression of a “ghost” and became a technique frequently used in theatre to create a phantasmagoria. Similar methods are still used today, often substituting Mylar foil in place of glass and using CG content (such as the 2012 Coachella performance, in which a “holographic” Tupac was resurrected to sing alongside Dr. Dre).
“Pepper’s Pyramid” is a similar concept. Instead of a single pane of glass reflecting a single angle, a video is duplicated 4 times and projected downward onto a pyramid of Plexiglas, allowing the illusion to be viewed from multiple angles and for the content to be animated.
For Annie’s project, she re-created a small version of Pepper’s Pyramid to fit inside a pinhole camera that she had constructed. She then had herself 3D scanned using the 3D Lab’s Photogrammetry rig to generate a realistic 3D model of herself. The process of Photogrammetry allows an existing object or person to be converted into a full color, highly detailed, 3D model. This is done using a series of digital photographs captured 360 degrees around the subject. Annie’s resulting scan was then animated to rotate in place and projected into the pyramid as a “hologram” for viewing through her pinhole camera.