The project was inspired by a decidedly old-school technique: a life mask, where a person's face was covered in plaster to form a mold. That's how Abraham Lincoln's, which is displayed in the National Portrait Gallery, was created.
Obama's process was a bit less messy. He sat in a chair, surrounded by 50 custom-built LED lights, 8 sports photography cameras and six wide-angle cameras, which took a swarm of photos and simulated different lighting conditions. Technicians then walked around Obama with devices called "structured 3-D light scanners," which captured three-dimensional images.
The images were then 3-D printed, creating a bust of Obama that kind of looks like an avatar -- and makes for a decidedly meta moment: the president walking around the creation, checking himself out.