Introduction: DIY Viewmaster Reels
Perhaps you remember the virtual reality glasses from the previous century? Well we've found a viewmaster viewer in a box with old discarded toys. Because there where no reels with the viewer, we came to the idea to make our own.
We ended up with our own, analog, old school, 3D pictures.
We've learned a lot and we are blown away by the great results.
Step 1: You Will Need
- An old analog 35mm camera.
- A wide angle lens
- Dia (slide) film
- A tripod
- If you have it, a slider (https://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Camera-Slider-for-on-a-Tripod/)
- A place to develop your slides
- Bright weather
- Little or no wind
- Places with depth and without people or animals
For the reels
- Lasercutter (or a makerspace with one)
- Pray glue
- If you have it a light table
To see the result
- A viewmaster
Step 2: The Pictures
No step was really easy with this project. It was harder than I thought to get an old analog SLR camera that still works. It was also hard to get the right batteries for this camera. And it was also hard to get the 35 mm dia (slide) film.
But finally we managed to get all the camera stuff. We already made a slider for the tripod with a ruler on it and it was a bright day.
There are a couple of things to think about when you make your pictures.
The settings on the camera
- You want everything in focus, so you need to use the A-setting (aperture priority) on your camera and use the smallest diaphragm. We used 22.
- Because of this small diaphragm, you will get long shutter times. So you will need to use a tripod. To get the shutter times a little bit down, we used ASA 200 film.
- In the end you will cut only a very small piece out of your slide, so you will want to take your pictures with a wide angle lens. We used 28 mm.
- Because you will have to take two pictures that needs to be (almost) the same, you need weather without wind.
- The slow shutter speeds will demand a bright day.
- When you choose what to shoot, you want to choose something with a lot of depth. So something close by, something far away and something in the distance.
- You also need a scene that doesn't move. So no people or animals. Trees and clouds are ok as long as there is no wind.
- You also need to take in account that you will use only a very small part of your picture, so zoom in in your imagination to imagine what the result will look like.
Shooting the picture
- When everything is set, it is time to shoot the picture(s). You will need to shoot two pictures for every 3D image you want to make. These pictures need to be taken from a position just a little bit next to each other. We took most of our pictures 10 - 12 cm (4 - 5 inch) from each other. If your image is farther away, the distance between the two pictures needs to be bigger.
- To not get confused, we always first took the left shot and then the right.
- Take your time to frame the first shot and then swiftly move the camera and take the second. (You don't need to frame this second shot, just move the camera and shoot) The faster you do this, the less change that something moved in your scene.
(because it was a learning experience for us, we kept notes of all the settings)
- When all the (36) pictures are taken, you need to bring the roll to a shop where they can develop it and wait for a couple of days for it to return. I had forgotten how great the feeling is to open the envelope and see how the pictures came out.
Step 3: The Reels
While waiting for the film to develop, it is a good moment to get the reel cards made.
- I first designed the viewmaster reel in Adobe Illustrator. (if you don't have Illustrator you can open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader by simply changing the .ai at the end in .pdf)
- I don't have a lasercutter (yet) so I went to a fablab (Waag society in Amsterdam) to get the reels cut out of card stock that I brought with me from home. I used two colors so that it would be easy to see what the front of the reel is on the final result.
The reels came out great and they did fit perfectly in the viewmaster.
Step 4: How the Reels Work
We have learned this the hard way, but there are some things you might need to know before you start putting the pictures in.
- A reel can show 7 3D pictures, so it will need 7 left and 7 right frames, 14 in total.
- Every time push the lever on the viewmaster the reel will turn two! frames clockwise.
- The frames always have to be pasted in the holes above the small rectangular holes.
- The pictures will endup, when you go around, straight, upside down, straight, upside down...
- Every finished reel is two cardboard reels with the pictures sandwiched in between.
Step 5: Choose Your Pictures
The great moment when the pictures come back from developing!
We used a bathroom lamp from Ikea as a lightbox. You could also use a window during the day.
- First we choose and sorted the pictures.
- Make sure what frame is the left and what is the right. (it won't work when you get them mixed up)
- Use an empty reel to choose witch part of the slide you are going to use.
Step 6: Montage the Frames
- Spray one empty reel board with spray glue.
- Use the other cardboard part of the reel to decide on your cutout and mark this with a sharpy.
- Cut on the marking.
- Push the picture on the glue in place. (you might want to add a small piece of tape, to be sure)
Make sure you use a spot above a small rectangular hole.
- Now take the other picture with the same image and frame it on exactly the same height. Take a point as far in the distance on the scene as you can find, to align it sideways. Glue this frame also in place.
- Now turn the reel two frames clockwise and put in the next picture.
- Keep on doing this until all 7 pictures (14 frames) are in place.
Step 7: To Finish
- Spray the other reel board also with spray glue and glue it on the reel with the pictures on it.
- Put the reel in the viewmaster.
- Be amazed with the result!
We where very amazed. The result was amazing.
What did we learn the hard way?
- It is difficult to get 35 mm dia (slide) films.
- Old camera's have death batteries.
- You will need a wide angle lens.
- You will only use a really, really, really small part of your slide. (remember this when you frame your scene)
- Not every developer still knows that there is a different between developing normal film and dia (slide) film.
- You'll need to turn the reel two frames for every next picture.
- Sometimes you can cut two pictures out of one slide.
- People and animals will not stand still.