How good is Sony’s 3D Creator face scanner? We review the Xperia XZ1 camera’s weirdest feature

We’ve spent some time testing and reviewing Sony’s 3D Creator app, which uses an Xperia smartphone camera to scan and map out your face, entire head or even your dinner.

Sony Mobile’s latest flagship smartphones, the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact, come packing a rather brilliant MotionEye camera that can capture gorgeous photos and super-smooth home movies. As you should well know, if you’ve read our in-depth Xperia XZ1 camera review.

However, these Sony blowers also boast a very unique feature which makes full use of that camera tech. Namely, the 3D Creator app.

The 3D Creator is fairly self-explanatory, allowing you to scan in an object and produce a three-dimensional virtual representation of them right there on your Xperia mobile. You can capture pretty much any subject with this feature, although you get specific modes for faces, heads and – weirdly – food. Just in case you want to admire your chicken parma from every possible angle, long after it’s passed through your bowels.

Here’s our experiences with the Sony 3D Creator on the Xperia XZ1 smartphone, including how easy it is to use, how effective the results are, and what you can actually do with your scans once they’re complete.

Check out our Sony Xperia XZ1 tips and tricks guide for a closer look at this brilliant flagship’s best features and hidden bits.

Is the 3D Creator easy to use?

Thankfully you don’t have to worry about tracking down and studying any complex online instruction manuals to get started with 3D Creator. Sony has kindly included plenty of illustrated tutorials and bits of advice which give you the main pointers in just a few minutes. This includes video demonstrations if you’re still struggling, which are nice and clear.

The scanning process itself involves walking around your subject, while keeping the Xperia’s camera lens trained on them. Connected dots appear on the screen to show you exactly where to move, which proves essential guidance. Just follow the trail and then finish off with a bit of free-form sculpting and you’re done in roughly a minute. Definitely a fast process, considering the complexity involved.

Our first attempt at a face scan gave pleasing results. Even though the subject was wearing a cap, the Xperia XZ1 and 3D Creator app managed to quite accurately map out his mug, with accurate skin tones and textures. Every facial scan we’ve seen essentially makes the subject look like they’re in a Grand Theft Auto game, complete with that familiar glassy stare.

Of course, you have to make sure that lighting conditions are uniform and soft – any kind of glare isn’t handled well by the app. You’ll need a good bit of space to work with as well, or the mapping process can get a little awkward. Getting too close to your subject is a definite no-no.

Buoyed by this outcome, we then tried to scan some random objects. This was met with varying levels of success.

While the 3D Creator app seems to function well in its pre-set modes even with no prior experience, the Freeform Scan option does take quite a bit more finesse on the user’s part. Because the camera doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be capturing and therefore has no pre-set points of reference, it’s quite common for the app to stumble and demand a restart. Plus, any shiny objects are immediately out, as they reflect light and appear deformed.

With a bit of patience and perfect conditions, however, you can generally get some decent results.

What can I do with my 3D creations?

So, you’ve just captured an accurate representation of your BFF’s face. Now what on earth are you actually supposed to do with it?

Well, the app offers a few suggestions on that front. For one, you can print out a model of your scan, on your very own 3D printer or by ordering one online. You can also share your creation on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, or set it as a live wallpaper on your Xperia XZ1.

Alternatively, you can dress your subject up as a fruity dinosaur and have them pose in real-life locations, for your own rather twisted amusement. Sony’s AR camera tool allows you to insert a cartoon version of your victim into your snaps and even home movies, for maximum dignity-shredding effects.

The only other app that makes use of these scans right now is Shadow.lol Avatars, which allows you to create a random GIF of your subject doing a mic drop, happy dance and other randomness. You can even insert them into a popular flick, such as that Disney one set in space.

In other words, the actual uses of this tech right now are kind of limited, beyond little time-wasters or creepy 3D portraits of your family members. However, this is very new tech from Sony which works better than we expected, and we can already see some promise. For instance, imagine scanning an accurate 3D representation of yourself and your mates into a PS4 game and actually blasting each other to bits in some frantic deathmatch.

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