Rendering without displaying to the screen

Alright, here’s a question from the gallery of idiots.

My latest project at work involves testing of some image recognition algorithms, and I need to set up a 3D scene and construct an array of data (essentially a bitmap of the screen) for these tests to be performed on. The solution I’ve come up with, which to me seems to be the most inefficient, but like I said, I’m an idiot, is to render the scene internally in openGL, never even send it to the screen, and then grap the data I need from the framebuffer. Is this a viable option, or would I do better to come up with some other implementation that can construct my bitmap from a few dozen specified vertices in 3 dimensional space and possibly a few image files I’m going to be using for my background? I don’t know if what I am trying to do in openGL is even possible, I’ve only been working with it for about the past week. Any suggestions, comments, insults, etc. would be most appreciated.

Is the latest NeHe tutorial any help: