Step into the future with Volumetric Capturing and Rankin’s photographic sculptures

“What I love about it all, is that it takes the digital and makes it real.”

Most of you are probably scratching your heads at the sight of the words: ‘volumetric capture’. Unless you’re someone with a fair few thousand pounds to play with, you probably won’t be able to get your hands on this kind of tech. But hey, we’ll leave that up to the photographers. 

As to not bore you too much with the complexities, volumetric capturing has been used in recent years to create holograms as well as other 3D models which can then be used for augmented and virtual reality. In fact, the holograms used for the recent ABBA virtual tour were created using this process.

Volumetric capture refers to recording a physical place, object, person, or even event, in a way that makes it appear to take up three-dimensional space. In the case of a recording of an object or person, this allows a viewer to rotate or move around the end experience.

Renowned photographer Rankin has also been busy with volumetric capture – using it to create incredible, real world sculptures. 

“This technology is just mind-blowing,” he states excitedly. “It allows me as a photographer to take multiple captures of a subject in a moment in time, all at the same time. I can then assemble and construct a 3D version, which can be 3D printed that you can make a physical cast from. That cast can then be used as the basis to make sculptures in lots of different materials! For my first one, I’ve opted for a bronze.”

The lifelike bronze sculptures were inspired by kids’ selfie filters: “It seems pretty fitting to reference the most shallow form of digital manipulation in the making of this real-life image/object,” Rankin explains.

Of course, a lot of technology goes into the use of volumetric capture. To make these sculptures a reality, for example, a rig of no less than 170 cameras was used. “That doesn’t mean it’s not a decisive moment or a moment that I’m creating, but a moment that is being captured by all of these different angles at the same time.” 

The sheer amount of angles being covered allows Rankin to get a “260°- 340 visual representation of the person or subject”. The photographer admits to himself it almost doesn’t seem possible, comparing it to being in “some sci-fi movie when you are making the work.”

When asked if he’d like to continue using the groundbreaking technology he said “Absolutely, I’m working on lots at the moment. Now that I’ve got my head around it, and how to utilise the technology, I think I’ll be making quite a few of these… budget allowing!”

As with any industry, photography has seen unprecedented technological advancements over the years, many people wouldn’t have been able to conjure up even so much as an idea of how it works. Volumetric capture has given us the opportunity to step into other worlds thanks to VR and AR. However, Rankin is embracing this innovative technology and putting his signature spin on it, bringing the digital world into ours.

“Back when I started photography, if somebody had said that I would end up being a photographer that makes sculptures from my captures, I would have laughed at them. Now it’s a reality. I think that speaks volumes, but of course, this is just one small corner of how photography has changed. To be honest with you, I think as a medium it’s consuming humanity, but hey, watch this space!”

WriterChris Saunders
Image CreditsRankin