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Obama goes 3-D

President Obama’s latest presidential portrait is a technological marvel -- it’s 3-D.

The Smithsonian visited the White House to take the 3D portrait, which is considered to be the highest resolution digital model ever made of a head of state. The 3-D printed bust made its debut earlier this year at the White House’s Maker Faire, but the White House today released a behind-the-scenes video showing how the bust was made.

The bust will go on display in the Commons Gallery of the Smithsonian Castle starting today.

It was created by a Smithsonian-led team of 3D-digital-imaging specialists, Autodesk and 3D Systems, in collaboration with the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. It took two different technologically sophisticated 3D documentation processes to generate the data needed to create this portrait, the White House said.

The video and exhibit of the 3D portraits are part of an ongoing effort by the administration to call attention to the significance of the Maker movement this year. The White House hosted the Maker Faire in June, and more recently, launched a 3D-Printed Ornament Design Challenge in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution.

The inspiration comes from the life masks of president Abraham Lincoln that are on display at the Smithsonian’s Portrait Gallery in Washington.

See how it was done here. Tom Kalil of the White House office of Science and Technology Policy says the portrait is part of the “third industrial revolution” marrying the digital and physical worlds.

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