Hundreds of Raspberry Pis Used in Marvel’s Black Widow

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Marvel, The Scan Truck)

Ever wonder how those cool special effects come together in movies? With the help of a few hundred Raspberry Pi of course! We spotted a tweet by Arturo182 which gave us a behind the scenes look at creating the visual effects for Marvel's recently released Black Widow. In the image we get a glimpse of actress Olga Kurylenko decked out head-to-toe in some cool combat gear while surrounded by Raspberry Pis all controlling Nikon DSLR cameras.

The best Raspberry Pi projects use at least one Pi but this incredible rig is constructed with over 200 individual Raspberry Pis. Looking at the port layout we are confident that these are Raspberry Pi 3 / 3B+, which means that this rig was built in the past few years. Other Marvel titles to use the same technology include Venom and Avenger’s End Game.  We even spotted a glimpse of Tom Hardy being scanned for Venom. This exciting system wasn’t developed by Marvel but rather a specialist team, The Scan Truck who offer scanning services for movies, music videos and commercials. Plenty of other well-known names have worked with The Scan Truck, including Nintendo for their Super Nintendo World title and Rockstar Game’s GTA V Online.

What some might be inclined to call a 3D scanner is actually a technology known as photogrammetry. Each Raspberry Pi is attached to a DSLR and mounted all around a custom frame. The cameras are oriented to point toward the same center point. Whatever you want to scan is placed in the center while the Pis capture the subject from every angle. All of the images are sent to processed by a dedicated machine, also inside the truck, which then stitches the images into a full 3D scan of the subject. The use of exceptionally bright lights prevents shadows forming in the scan, giving the best results possible.

This isn’t the first Raspberry Pi photogrammetry project we’ve covered but it is the first one we’ve found that uses hundreds of Pis packed into a mobile studio. The Scan Truck has plenty of samples on its website showcasing the end results of their hard work but not much is known about the software side.

To get a closer look at Hollywood’s finest Raspberry Pi photogrammetry rig, check out the official website for The Scan Truck and see what they’ve been up to.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.