Photographer in the Paris area -

AbsurdePhoton > English > Experiments

True fake anaglyphic 3D


Topics : 3D English Experiment Gallery Infography Photo Photomontage Technique

In a previous article, I presented fake anaglyphic 3D photos: it was only a quick and dirty manipulation in Photoshop. The result was a bit « flat », and often left you cross-eyed.

■ True fake anaglyphic 3D explained

Going deeper in my research, I found out that a trick is used in movies: the films are shot, and 3D is added later! They are using what is called a depthmap.

The depthmap is a special grey-scale version of the original photo. The levels of grey represent the depth value of the objects. The most famous norm tells that lighter greys are near, darker greys are farther (neutral grey is the 0 position).

© AbsurdePhoton
Un joli papillon accroché à une feuille - Accroché
Le même papillon, vu au radar de profondeur (depthmap)

From this depthmap that gives a distance from the eyes of the observer, we can use simple mathematical calculus to create a shifted image from the original. Imagine that this shift represents the distance between the eyes...

Let’s say that the original image is the one for the left eye. By computing the shifted image for the right eye, we obtain the basis of anaglyphic 3D, it’s that simple!

Well, it’s not that simple. It takes a lot of time: each image has to be cut out in depth zones, which is an entirely manual operation. Then, the shifted image is computed (the Displace Photoshop plugin is perfect for that), then recombine the « left » and « right » images.

Cutting out the image in zones is so painful that I tried several ways:

  • manually: requires a graphics tablet and a lot of patience
  • cut-out plugins for Photoshop: I tried them all, but none was precise enough to obtain a correct 3D rendering
  • the last solution I’m currently working on is using artificial intelligence: the advances in deep learning these last years are promising, and I’m still studying the subject

You have to know that I spend at least four hours per image for the moment!

■ True fake 3D examples

Now you can see a few examples of my work.

For an explanation of the formats used, please read the chapter after the gallery.

- Croc-croc ©AbsurdePhoton -
Original photo of the squirrel

- Croc-croc 3D (depthmap) ©AbsurdePhoton -
The squirrel depthmap to compute the left & right images

- Croc-croc 3D (red and blue anaglyph) ©AbsurdePhoton -
The squirrel in colour red & blue anaglyphic 3D

- Croc-croc 3D (cross-eyed anaglyph) ©AbsurdePhoton -
The same squirrel in anaglyphic 3D without googles

- Croc-croc 3D (animated without googles) ©AbsurdePhoton -
3D animated squirrel without googles

- In the meadow ©AbsurdePhoton -
The original photo of this beautiful woman in a meadow

- In the meadow 3D (depthmap) ©AbsurdePhoton -
The depthmap shows the distances: grass, model, background, sky

- In the meadow 3D (red and blue anaglyph, black and white version) ©AbsurdePhoton -
Red & blue anaglyphic black & white version

- In the meadow 3D (cross-eyed anaglyph) ©AbsurdePhoton -
Try to cross your eyes to look at the photo

- In the meadow 3D (animated without googles) ©AbsurdePhoton -
The angle is a bit different from the original in this animated version

■ 3D photo formats used on this site

In my photo galleries where you can find 3D versions of images, you can encounter the following formats. Here is how to visualize them:

  • the original photo: it is here so you can compare with the other versions
  • the depthmap: represents the distance in grey -scale of the objects in the original photo
  • red and blue anaglyph: you need red and cyan anaglyph googles (red for the left eye) to visualize the photo with depth
  • cross-eyed anaglyph: for people who don’t own anaglyph googles. To perceive depth, no need for googles: you have to cross your eyes and control them, to try to mix the left and right parts in the « middle ». It requires a bit of training, and can cause strain to the eyes. The advantage is that the colours are not distorted.
    For more explanations and training, you can follow this article on Kùla.
    Software like StereoPhotoMaker let you visualize these files, and convert them to other formats
  • Animated: computing several positions allows to create a video giving the impression of depth without googles. Videos are in aPNG format: if you don’t see anything moving, please update your internet browser! Only recent releases of Firefox, Chrome and Safari can read them
    To create the videos, I’m using a heavily modified script from Ugo Capeto’s site.

Enjoy my photos in 3D!