How To: Capture Your Memories in Full 3D!




Introduction: How To: Capture Your Memories in Full 3D!

My sister recently had a wedding, and I wanted to do something special for her wedding that few, if any people had. What could this be?

Obviously the most important thing you can take away from a wedding are the memories. Memories, however, fade with time, and you need photos to keep them fresh. Photos on the other hand are bland, 2D pieces of paper. Often the background merges with the foreground, details are missed, etc.

How awesome would it be, I thought, to capture her wedding in full 3D? The concept *seemed* easy enough, but how to go about it in a pinch with minimal cost?

This eventually lead to one of the methods I will show in this instructable where I created her wedding images in full 3D.  It turned out beautifully, and I sent along with the cards an antique stereoscopic viewer.  But the first question to be asked is, how is it that you make something 3D?

Simply put, you need two different, though similar images to be viewed by each eyeball.  If you only have one eye, I'm sorry, but this instructable is not for you...  This brings us to the first step.  AKA, "Free Viewing."

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Step 1: Free Viewing

Free Viewing is, simply put, seeing a 2D image as 3D without the use of glasses, lenses, etc.

To "Free View"you will create two images laying them side-by-side in order to see them simultaneously. You will have the image for the right eye on the left side, and vice versa. The end result is that when you cross your eyes to "merge"the two images, you will end up with a 3Dimage.

Let's put this in practice. I will create a 3Dimage here using nothing but text. You can even cut and paste this into a word processor if you would like:

F  R  A  B  J  O  U  S  I  R  O  K  O
M  YJ     EA    NV    EI    LN    O  D
P  E  T R  O  C  K  S    I  N  F  U  L
M  A  R J  O  O   P  A  N  N  I  N  G
P  N  E  U  M  A  E  E  R  I  E  N  O

F  R  A  B  J  O  U  S  I  R  O  K  O
M  Y  J   E  A  N  V  E  I  L  N  O  D
P  E  T  R  O  C  K  S   I  N  F  U  L
M  A  R  J  O  O  P  A  N  N  I  N  G
P  N  E  U  M  A  E  E  R  I  E  N  O

Now, if you're able to cross your eyes until the images line up, you will see a special message raised out of these letters.  If you can do this, you've already mastered free viewing!

This is the same concept that was used to create those "magic eye" posters that were a fad in the 90's, except that where in the "magic eye" you were actually forcing your eyes to "uncross" here you're purposely crossing them. 

Note that it's normal to feel a bit of eye strain, and to have blurry vision when you do this a lot in the beginning.  Don't worry, no permanent damage is being done.  Instead, you're forcing your eyes to use muscles they don't normally use, and eventually those muscles, like anything else, will become stronger.  It will become easier to focus the more you do it.  (Being fascinated with it, I can now Free View in a split second, and return to normal view with no problems.)

So let's look at why the above text appears 3D.

What I've done here is taken my secret message, and "shifted" those letters ever so slightly to the left (by deleting and adding spaces).  When your eyes cross, your right eye is seeing those letters shifted, while the left eye isn't.  Your brain translates this into 3D space.  To see why this works, close your right eye, and hold your finger a few inches from your monitor, and cover a specific spot.  Then switch, closing your left eye and opening your right eye, and you'll see that your finger appears to have shifted to the left.  We're simply duplicating this phenomenon.

I'll be spending a good amount of time on Free Viewing prior to moving on to other things.  It's important to understand WHY 3D works so as to be able to understand new and different ways to play with it.

Step 2: Create a 3D Image

Now that we know how to free view, let's create our first 3D image.  This can easily be done in any application that supports graphics (even MS Word).  For the purposes of this instructable, however, I will use my trusty, ancient Paintshop Pro. 

First, you will need to decide on an image that you want to make 3D.  The hardest part is finding an image that is interesting enough to make 3D.  A quick google search for something sports related brought up the photo found in Image 1.

I decided that I wanted to create a 3D image where the man was closer than the background, and the ball was even further forward.  By looking at Image 2, you'll see that I selected the ball on the left image, and moved it a considerable amount to the left (bringing it "forward."  Moving it to the right on the left image would move it "backwards".)

I decided to use the right-hand image to modify the position of the man.  (It COULD have been done on the left-hand image, but this would have made the man in the background's face visible, and as I wouldn't be able to draw his face, I didn't want to mess with that.  Moving the right-hand image made it easier to fix the background.)

Since I was using the right-hand to do the modifications to the man, I moved the image to the right in order to make it move "forward."  Note that I moved it about half as far as I did the ball, meaning he would only be half as far in "front" of the background image.

This leaves me with a lot of background whitespace that needed to be fixed.  To fill in that whitespace, I used the "smudge" tool to "draw" what should be "behind" the guy.  In some places (such as the dirt) I just copied and pasted pieces of the dirt from elsewhere to fill in the white spots.

Image 3 will show you the finished product.  A "free-viewable" 3D image.  Well, almost.  Technically, I think we'd call this 2.5D.  This would be similar to cutting out pieces of the picture and just moving them forward.  We still aren't doing full 3D yet.  This can only be done with a 3D rendering application (for 3D models) or with a camera (for real-world images).

Step 3: Taking 3D Pictures

With the full understanding that 3D photos will require two images taken from two different angles, it's now possible to take photos in full 3D.

Taking the pictures is actually simpler than you would initially think. The human brain is an amazing tool, so you don't have to be too exacting when you snap your pictures. The brain can compensate quite a bit.

For my sister's wedding, I wanted to at least know that I had the timing right, so I went out and bought the two cheapest identical digital cameras I could find.  If your target is very still, it's possible to take your pictures with a single camera.  Simply snap a picture of your target, move approximately one foot to the right or left, and snap another picture.  You will need to keep in mind which picture is for which eye so you can handle them appropriately.  As we will be free viewing for now, this means putting the "right eye" picture on the left side, and vice versa.  

To illustrate this, I decided to take a picture of something in my apartment.  Specifically, my bar.  I love my bar.  Putting the images side-by-side, and making sure that vertically, they're lined up, I can very easily create a 3D free-view image of my bar.  (Image 1)

It's important that your cameras are able to take pictures so *everything* is in focus at the same time. The background should be as clear as the foreground. Focus shouldn't be on a specific object in order to get the real 3D effect. For my digital cameras, I had a "party" mode that specifically worked in low-light conditions AND stated that it could "capture the background party."

For your own camera, you make have to experiment with some of the modes, though pretty much every digital camera today has *some* mode that will do this. If you have a scanner, you can even use cheap 35mm cameras if you don't mind waiting for them to print out, and you're okay with living in the stoneage.

So I took my two cameras, got them ready for the photo, held them side-by-side (approximately a foot apart) and snapped the picture at the same time on both. Now, there are lenses out there, and even devices you can build that will snap a single picture with a single camera and give you the split images (involving mirrors, and way too much time) but this is about doing something quick, and easy with stuff you can find in the department store 10 minutes before the wedding.

It IS important that you get your timing down when snapping the two images, as ANY movement that happens between the two images will be very obvious. When using two cameras, I strongly recommend marking your "right" and "left" camera, because filtering through a bunch of images trying to figure out which is which sucks. Trust me.

So let's return to my bar...  After having taken the two pictures, I now need to make sure they're correctly aligned.  Start by placing your images into a photo editing suite, and putting each on a different layer (keeping track of which is the right, and which is the left).  For the photo on the top layer, set its transparency to 50% so you can see how the two line up.  (Image 2)  Now, pick a spot
somewhere in the middle of the image (in this case, I chose the white Malibu bottle) and line up the two images as closely as possible.  (Image 3)

Finally, crop your images so no background shows on either image, then place the right image on the left, and the left image on the right to create an easily free-viewed 3D image! (Image 1)

Step 4: Choose Your Method:

Now that we know how to take and create our 3D images, we're not limited to free viewing them.  It's time to choose how you want to view your images.

While all 3D imagery works essentially the same way, you basically have three options when creating and viewing your 3D imagery. (Assuming you want to actually print the photos out.)

1.) Free Viewing - With this method, you don't need any special glasses to view the images.

2.) Anaglyph Lenses - The classic movie theater experience with two different colored lenses.

3.) Stereo Viewer (Stereoscope) Lenses" - You'll have to build/buy a stereoscope for this one.

The lenses above can be made yourself (in the case of the Anaglyph) or purchased online. As I will explain later, I opted for the Stereo Viewer method for my sister's wedding photos. All of the lenses you could need can be found cheaply online. Here's a couple sites to get you started:

Most places will send you a "free" pair of anagylph glasses if you send them a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Things NOT to buy:

1.) ChromaDepth 3D Lenses - These glasses actually slightly shift the "depth" of an image based on color. Completely useless to give you a true 3D experience, no matter what their advertisements tell you.

2.) Polarized Lenses - Unless you have a ridiculous amount of money to buy the equipment (read dual-polar monitors and software) able to display the two images with their light polarized and shining at 90 degree angles from each other, probably not the lenses you want to look into.

Step 5: Anaglyph Images

Anaglyph is your typical 1980's movie experience. The red/green paper spectacles that we're all so fond of. While there are other ways to get a fully 3D image, they all actually require two seperate images be printed. With the anaglyph, you'll lose some of your color from the image, but the end result will be a single image that can be viewed in 3D with special glasses for the true 3D experience.

Now, to understand what we're doing here, we're creating two images that are specific colors. If you've ever seen one of those "magic decoder lenses" you'll know that it is little more than a red filter. They write something in one color, then cover it up with a bunch of jumbled red text, then put a red filter on it so you can't see the red, and bam, you see the image underneath. That's all there is to it.

It's important to note that when your lens is red, it's actually filtering OUT red. Let me clarify this again. The color of the lens is the color that you're REMOVING from the image. "But how is it removing the color when everything becomes that color" you ask. Yes, but if everything "becomes" red, then you can't see red words anymore, can you? Say, "ohhhh..."

The first step to anaglyph lenses is to decide which colors you want to use. I would recommend a magenta/green or a cyan/red, or even yellow/blue. With these combinations, you'll find that you can cover most of the colors of the spectrum with only the occasional "glitch." (You'll see some odd coloration on items that are considerably out of the focal point, and items that were seen by one eye but not the other.)

Red/Green lenses leave out Blue. Red/Blue leave out Green. While it's possible to make your images with these color combos (and considerably easier) it's still not the ideal.

This being said, I don't actually HAVE a pair of glasses, so will have to make my own with whatever I have handy. (Which happens to be a red sharpie, a blue sharpie, and the clear plastic food container that my salad came in.) So my images will not be viewable without red/blue glasses. The colors don't even have to be all that exacting, as we're just trying to "nudge" the brain into looking at the picture we want it to see.

You will want to keep in mind when making anaglyph images that the adopted "standard" is that your red(ish) colored lense should be on the left.

Now, go back to your photo you were editing from step 3.  While you have your image layered one on top of the other, and focused, instead of separating the images, simply remove all colors EXCEPT (red, blue, cyan, yellow, etc) from the appropriate image for that "eye."  If this instructable becomes popular enough, or enough questions are asked, I'll take you through this step further in the future.

This is all that's required to make an anaglyph 3D image.

Here is the same image of my bar as a red/blue anaglyph image.  Note that as you're removing 66% of the color from the image, you'll also need to up the brightness before removing the color in order for the image to be visible without being too dark.  Unfortunately, my bar was dark to start with, so probably not the ideal candidate for the 3D photo to start with.  Sorry.  :/

Step 6: Above and Beyond...

Initially, I hadn't intended to publish this instructable until this step was finished, but I figured I'd go ahead and put it out there to see if there was much interest in it.

Now understanding the concept of how to create 3D imagery, you should now know how to do other things with it.  Stereoscope cards, for instance, would be a simple combination of the two images with the pictures on the CORRECT side (right on right, left on left, unlike a free view image).

But where this really gets interesting is in video.  Yes, I said it, you can take your home movies in 3D (with two cameras, of course).  You can even render the video in such a way as to make it free-viewable.  You heard that right... Post your 3D videos on YouTube so anyone can see them in 3D without the use of glasses!

Eventually, I will do exactly this (had a rough day today and didn't get a chance to pick up about $3.00 worth of hardware from the store).  So keep tuned in to see what a free view 3D movie looks like! 

As an added bonus, with the method used to create your 3D home movies, you'll find that you "accidentally" are able to create fully 3D stereo audio to go with the movies as well.

Having looked on YouTube, I have now seen that there are occasional videos that do have the images in 3D free view format.  So it HAS been done before.  If there's enough interest generated, I'll post the how-to here.

Sorry if this is my weakest instructable yet, but it's late, and I did this in a couple of hours.  :/

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    14 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 6

    Very nice. Now I actually have to get up of my ass and start doing these things. I feel like one of those blokes who say to their nagging wives "Yeah, I'll build us a barbie, just don't go and buy one! You know how much of a tight-ass I am!" and then spending 5 hours on the internet reading DIY pages to eventually go to Bunnings and buy a barbie on special for 30 bucks.

    That was in Australian slang, so to clarify, here is a key:

    Bloke = guy, man

    tight-ass = frugal

    barbie = BBQ

    bucks = Australian Dollar

    P.S.: LOVE IT!


    Javin007, here is a link to a 3D viewer
    which can be made very easily, to view Cross eye side by side photos like the one's you clicked, on
    any regular TV, LCD, LED or Computer monitor.

    This simple viewer
    is for those of us who find it difficult to cross our eyes to view such
    cross eye photos and videos.

    Make one and see how easily you can now
    view such Cross eye side by side 3D images and videos. Here is the link to the instructable :-

    Happy viewing! :-)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    amazing idea i wonder if i cold make a 3d movie and project in the same dimensions


    9 years ago on Step 5

    :) My computer is 3D now! :P
    great work pal!! wonderful way, u explain things!!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    That's pretty cool, it took practicing on the baseball player to get there though!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    If you take 3D photos, you can also view them on a computer without any special viewer.  You add them to a gif program, or a flash program.  I have it set to about 9 frames per second.  I used liveswif to make these.  I pulled some 3D images off of the internet and made some 3D with them.
    I have 17 done so far.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Also, people who are blind in one eye can not see in 3D, but with this technique, even they can see the 3D effect.  Don't believe me?  Cover one eye when viewing them.   The best one is the water fountain, its about the 8th or 9th one.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Can't help ya cross your eyes, sorry.  The idea is that when you FIRST start to cross your eyes, you'll see 4 images.  Try to cross more to get the two images in the middle to meet up.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I wasn't sure about the Joo, thought it might be bad alignment (I had to do it with Paint as I couldn't use my eyes on this one)