Get your special-effects career going with the NextEngine 3D scanner

Any aspiring animators out there may want to add the NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner to their Christmas lists. The cereal box-size gadget will quickly scan an object (most scans take about 2 minutes) and render it onscreen for you to stretch, rotate, or break apart in any number of applications, many of which are provided. Since there's no "scanning box" for your object, size matters not; really big targets may take a couple of scans, though. The NextEngine will capture all your object's pretty colors and is said to be accurate to 0.005 inch, so anything bigger than a nanofiber can't hide from this baby.

You also get an object gripper for hanging onto your thingie and a rotating "positioner" (above right) for scanning its backside. Since the NextEngine is a regular USB 2.0 peripheral, setup is super-simple, though you'll need a minimum 2-GHz Windows PC (sorry, Mac users). Yeah, at $2,495, it's definitely a bit pricey, so you may want to weigh getting one vs. an internship at Activision. Shout-out to Bill for the tip!