The concept of producing a 3D image is based on how the human eyes work. There are two cameras set within carefully measured distances from each other in the same context as how the two eyes are located on the face. Each lens records the image in the same process as how each eye sees it. This means that there is a slight difference with regards to the viewpoint of each eye, and in this case, of each lens. The two images from a 3D camera set-up are processed the way the human eyes fuse these two separate views together. Through the 3D glasses, a person interprets the process as image depth; thus, seeing a 3D image.
For a simple start-up project to let you explore the world of 3D imaging, you don’t really have to own a 3D camera. As long as you have any digital camera to use, a static subject with a fitting location, the right computer hardware and software, and a pair of anaglyph 3D glasses (typically the red/cyan 3D glasses), you can come up with your own 3D photo.
You will need:
USB cable or card reader
StereoPhoto Maker (freeware)
Pair of anaglyph 3D glasses (red/cyan 3D glasses)
Download and install the StereoPhoto Maker freeware so you have it handy in your computer after shooting your photos. It will be ideal to browse around to get yourself familiar with it. You may opt to do this step after shooting your photos, although most ones might get too excited and would want to readily move on with the process of processing the photos they just shot into 3D images. In such cases, it is still good to download and install the software ahead of time.
Start shooting your your photos using any digital camera. Choose a stationary main subject with all non-moving elements as part of your frame. You can start framing and composing a good shot from within your location. It is best to maximize a frame with the objects within it coming from varying distances. For instance, you can shoot a nearby statue on the foreground with other statue/s behind it (it is best to have them in varying distances), and there are mountains on the background. For an indoor shot, have something of varying distances like a classroom filled with chairs (without the children because the photo should have only non-moving objects). With such a simple set-up, you can maximize and emphasize the 3D effect for this project by following these parameters.
Place your feet firmly on the ground. You should find yourself in a regular standing position with the distance between your left foot and right foot just proportioned to provide you a firm stance on the ground. The best position should not make it hard for you to balance yourself and there shouldn’t be any extra effort on keeping yourself firmly settled on the ground.
Put your body weight on your left foot. Position your camera as you would when taking any other photo.
Finalize your framing and composition. Take the photo. You can call this shot as your “left eye photo.” Then, transfer your body weight to your right foot. Make sure you don’t move your feet away from the same stance.
Take another photo of the same subject – with the same framing and composition. You can call this shot as your “right eye photo.” No changes on the camera settings needed. Again, you don’t have to put any additional tension to your body while taking the shot. Just treat it like shooting a regular photo. Things just move naturally.
The only difference on this shot is that you just transferred your weight from your left foot to your right foot, then your eyes and your brain just composed the photo of the same subject in the same way as any ordinary photo would be taken.
This process of shooting 1 subject in 2 different but relative positions is called the “cha-cha method.”
Transfer your photos to your computer. Now you have a stereo pair of images of your chosen subject. Placed side-by-side, these images yield to the concept of left eye-right eye perspectives.
The two images need to be aligned and placed to a suitable format to render it for 3D viewing. This can be done by using the specialized freeware application StereoPhoto Maker.
Run the StereoPhoto Maker software. Under the File menu, select the option “Open left/right images.” Browse through your photo folder and choose your left eye photo. Click the “Open” button at the dialog box. Follow the same step for the right eye photo. StereoPhoto will show the photos side-by-side.
Go to the Adjust menu and select “Auto color adjustment” to match the brightness, tone, and color of the two images.
Select “Auto alignment,” to allow the program to run an algorithm that corrects misalignments between the 2 photos. After processing the images together, it sets the Stereo window and provides you with your 3D image. Select a color anaglyph mode from the Stereo menu (preferably the Dubois anaglyph which works well for its color correction).
Put on your red/cyan 3D glasses to see your 3D image.
Capturing a perfect stereo image pair requires choosing a stationary main subject surrounded by all non-moving elements.
To emphasize the 3D effect, objects in the frame should be of varying distances from the camera.
If you want to explore further and make more advanced alignments when using StereoPhoto Maker, you can select the Easy adjustment mode, then do the manual corrections you want.
While the photo adjustments can also be done with other image editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop, the preference for StereoPhoto Maker is because it is specifically a program for stereoscopic processing of images. And it provides you with more choices to save your pictures as anaglyphs, parallel, or cross-view pairs. Considering the trend for 3D images and movies these days, surely, there are other freeware, shareware and demo products available for various utilization of 3D projects.
If you have other tips or anything else to share to the readers, from the camera to the steps to the software to use, you are all welcome to add something through this article’s comment space.
“How to Build Your Own 3D Camera Rig for Under $20,” Tech-talks.
“Make 3D Photos with Any Camera,” 3D Journal.