Chris Parker | Emmy Winning Media Designer

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Making Your Own 3D Videos – Part I

The Emmy Winning Blog is back, better and ready to present more mind-blowing multi-media mayhem!

This time out, I want to show you some really easy and dirt-cheap ways to make your very own 3-D videos.  Yeah, that’s right your very own 3-D!

To make sure we cover every step, I’ve decided to break this discussion up into three partsPart One I’ll show you how to shoot 3-D for both still photography and video, in Part Two I’ll tell you the different ways to present and view your 3-D project as well as show you some 3-D features now available on YouTube.  While in Part Three I’ll take you step by step through the process of actually creating your 3D viewable image.  I don’t know about you, but I’m excited.  So without further ado let’s talk 3-D!

Avatar on 3-D Blu-Ray

Avatar on 3-D Blu-Ray

The 3-D phenomenon is here and it seems everyone wants to shoot or present media in 3-D.  There’s no denying that with the success of movies like “Avatar” and with the sale of more and more 3-D displays that this latest “3-D craze” may be here to stay.  But what do people really think about 3-D?  Well, as many of you know I conducted a very unscientific poll of my own asking what people thought of 3-D in movies, TV and on the web.

The poll had 6 choices to choose from.

Is 3-D media…

  • Just a passing fad
  • Here to stay
  • It will stay once they get rid of the need for glasses
  • I don’t know
  • Other
  • Only movies will fully adopt 3-D

The results were surprisingly split.

No one chose the last choice while “other” and “I don’t know” only got 1 vote a piece, so we can discount these.  Interestingly, the first three choices all got an equal share of 29% each.  Which means that people are evenly split when it comes to 3-D media.

Some think it’s a passing fad like it was in the 1950’s or early 80’s while others think that the media has come of age and 3-D is here to stay while still others see the need for 3-D to evolve beyond the need for glasses.

If you have a pair of red and green 3-D glasses put them on to see the video.

If you have a pair of red and green 3-D glasses put them on to see the video.

But what does this all mean?  Are people ready to embrace 3-D?

There’s no denying that 3-D viewing can be uncomfortable and can, at times, fall well short of that desired “wow” effect.  There’s also no denying that when used properly and effectively, 3-D can dramatically enhance the viewing experience.

So what is 3-D and how can 3-D be integrated into your own projects?

Well first off, 3-D isn’t really 3-D.  It is actually a technique called “stereoscopy”, where presenting the eyes with two slightly offset 2-dimensional, “flat” images creates an illusion of depth.

Most of us have “binocular vision”, where each eye, due to their slight separation on the human face, view two slightly different angles of a scene.  The brain is able to use these two different views to distinguish the depth of a scene.

By using stereoscopy, the brain is “fooled” into thinking that two slightly offset 2-dimensional images is one image containing 3-D depth.  This means that if you want to present a 3-D image you need to capture and combine, simultaneously 2 slightly different angles of the same scene.

Apple iPhone

You can do this with specially designed 3-D digital cameras, lenses or 3-D HD cameras.  These options are rather expensive, but easier to use.  A cheaper, and just as effective way to achieve the exact same effect is to use two consumer cameras or cell phone cameras of the same make and model.  Two iPhone ’s would do the trick.

Sony Cybershot

And of course if you really want to go the “bargain basement” route (this is what I did by the way) you can use just one camera.  The one camera method does not work with video unless you are video taping a static shot which of course kind of defeats the purpose of “moving” video.

With a single camera all you have to do is take a snapshot then move the camera slightly to the right (about the distance equal to the distance between your eyes – about 2 ½ inches) and take another snapshot. Each snapshot represents one of your eyes.  This method seems simple, but you may have trouble accurately lining up the two shots and if your subject or background moves then the illusion of 3-D will be ruined.

If you have the added luxury of using two cameras, make sure they are of the same make and model with matching settings.  Attach the two cameras horizontally to a bar or a carpenter’s leveler 2 ½ inches apart.  You may need to adjust this width depending on how far away your subject is.  The closer the camera is to the subject the less of a width you need between the 2 cameras, while the farther away, such as a landscape or building the wider apart the cameras need to be.  There are also some special rigs available that are designed to hold and adjust two cameras making lining up your shot easier.

Each camera represents one of your eyes.  The camera to your left represents your left eye, while the camera to your right (you guessed it) represents your right eye.

“Left-Eye” Snapshot

“Right-Eye” Snapshot

Each snapshot is at a slightly different angle

With still photography, you must be careful not to have any movement between the time you snap the “left eye” camera to the time you snap the “right eye” camera.  For this movement could ruin the illusion.

If you are recording video it is okay to have movement within the frame.  The two video cameras are recording simultaneously so any movement will be synced later. Movement within 3-D video also adds to the effect, especially if something is flying at the cameras.

With a professionally designed 3-D camera you don’t need to worry about taking two separate photos or syncing your video afterwards.  Since these cameras share the same “snap” or record button, each picture taken or video shot will be perfectly synced each and every time out.

Panasonic and Sony each have their own 3D video cameras while the RED Epic camera is a high-end 3D cinema camera used to shoot major Hollywood productions like this…

So after all this, all you have to do now is start recording and snap your photos. That’s it!  That’s all it takes to shoot a 3-D image.

3-D photography takes a little practice and patience to get it right, especially if you’re not using professionally designed 3-D cameras.  But after a little trial and error you can literally bring added dimensions to your multi-media projects.

Next time out we’ll be tackling the fun part, how to turn your newly shot footage or photograph into a viewable 3-D image.  Until then be sure to “share”, “like” and subscribe to The Emmy Winning Blog.

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