Holopainting with Raspberry Pi

We’ve covered 2D light-painting here before. This project takes things a step further: meet 3D holopainting.


This project’s an unholy mixture of stop-motion, light-painting and hyperlapse from FilmSpektakel, a time-lapse and film production company in Vienna. It was made as part of a university graduation project. (With Raspberry Pis and Raspberry Pi camera boards, natch.)

Getting this footage out was a very labour-intensive process – but the results are stupendous. The subject was filmed by a ring of 24 networked Raspberry Pi cameras working like a 3d scanner, taking pictures around the ring with a delay of 83 milliseconds between each one so that movement could be captured.

Holopainting rig


They then cut out all of the resulting images – told you it was labour-intensive – and put them on a black background, then fed that data into a commercial light-painting stick. (If you don’t want to fork out a ton of cash for your own light-painting stick, there are instructions on building one with a Raspberry Pi over at Adafruit.)

A man dressed as a budget ninja walked the stick in front of a series of cameras set up where the original Raspberry Pi cameras had been, to create 3D images hanging in the air.

holopainting ninja

Presto: a holopainting – and the results are tremendous. Here’s a making-of video.

There’s a comment that often pops up when we describe a project like this: why bother? We’ll head that off right now: because you can. Because nobody’s done it before. Because the end results look phenomenal. We love it, and we’d love to see more projects like this!


James Mitchell avatar

Why…. cause you can… why not… its freaking awesome

(all accepted answers!)

Nick Murphy avatar

Wonderful work.

For an encore could one hide all the Pi cameras behind a plain coloured circular backscene and auto separate the target subject using greenscreen or similar in video editing or computer vision software?.

Liz Upton avatar

That’s a good idea. I suspect there’s a lot of refinement available here – I have a feeling this won’t be the last project like this we see!

AndrewS avatar

Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi… ;-)

I guess the final image-capture would probably also be easier if the DSLR camera was mounted on a circular track?

AndrewS avatar

…then again, perhaps using a circular track would make it “too smooth” and remove some of the charming DIY wobbliness of the whole thing :)

Michael Horne avatar

That’s just awesome. Possibly one of the greatest “because you cans” ever :-)

James Carroll avatar

That’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen. This it’s what’s so amazing about the Pi, how it enables creativity. The community around it reminds me of the golden era of the Amiga.

Elfen avatar


The X-Men Danger Room and the Star Trek HoloDeck can’t be that far away!

AndrewS avatar

The final image capture consists of lots of separately-taken photos, so it’s non-realtime. Wouldn’t quite work for a holodeck ;)

TheRisen avatar

But with programming and further refinement you can create multiple images like in video games and program them to respond to your movements and actions to make a holodeck react in real time. This just shows that it can be done. Not there yet but it is a step closer.

AndrewS avatar

Not quite – see 00:59 in the video above to see how each of the final images are captured – long-exposure photos of a single strip of bright LEDs being moved across the scene.

TomL avatar

I was thinking Star Trek as soon as I saw it, amazing I really love this.

Graham Moore avatar

I have an idea for commercialising this in a big way.

aankur Singla avatar

Way to much awesome, super like.

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