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USING A DIGITAL CAMERA TO CREATE 3D IMAGES
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The following is a brief and edited summary of on going research at Micro Lens Technology into methods of producing dimensional images.  This paper details the use of  your single lens digital camera to take “record” a succession of images, which can be down loaded to a computer, interlaced into a single image, printed  and combined with a lenticular lens sheet to produce a 3 dimensional image with attributes of the original scene.

 

Early research by Lo, Wu, myself and others into how far apart lenses can be to take a succession of images for producing 3 dimensional images revealed a surprising fact on how close they should be to make good 3 dimensional images.  Placement of lenses on the 4 lens Nimslo and 3 lens Image Tech amateur 3D cameras was a compromise to fit into the camera box and expose ˝ frame 35 mm film.

With knowledge of the spacing of the camera lenses and exposure devices, a lenticular sheet was designed.

 

Research by Dr MacElveen on projection of 3D images also revealed the same fact.  MacElveen, an optometrist by profession, disclosed that a one eyed man in theory can not see depth, but in practice does due to movement from blood pulsating thru the one eye and his brain.  It is difficult if not impossible to force yourself into seeing a flat world with one eye.

 

Lo and Roberts used this information to build devices to place cameras on, called Tracks, to take a succession of photographs of a stationary or fixed scene with a single lens camera for producing 3D images.

 

Work was also done on how many exposures gave good 3D.  With the armature camera, four exposures were found satisfactory and later cameras with 3 lenses also worked.  The amateur camera took all images simultaneously so could be used for portraits and/or scenes with movement.  With the tracks and a single lens camera, it was conceded that more than four images were better; the actual number was debatable and was related to the configuration of the lens on the lenticular sheet.  The single lens camera was limited to still and fixed scenery.

 

Exact distance between each image is still a mostly undefined number as it is related to distance to the key subject, lens configuration and number of images to be taken.  Most of all, distance the camera moves between each image is related to what you prefer in your finished 3D image.  Large camera movement gives exaggerated depth and a more "jumpy" finished image, while closer distances give more natural and smother 3D images.  A one degree movement between images is a typical starting point. 

 

Equipment

The equipment one needs to produce 3D images is (1) a digital camera, (2) a computer, (3) photo quality printer and (4) lenticular lens sheet.  It is expected you already posses items 1, 2, and 3.  Item 4, the lenticular lens sheet is available from Micro Lens Technology, Inc.

 

Procedure

For 3D images, pick a subject to photograph, for example a flower, an automobile, a sleeping pet, etc. and take four or more digital pictures in rapid succession.  Hold your camera firm and while shifting the camera a slight amount horizontally between each shot.  It is good to experiment and work your technique out. 

 

For a flip image, simply take two or three shots of different subjects.  Again, experiment.

Download these pictures to your computer and interlace all into one.  If you are not familiar with interlacing, please consult with Micro Lens Technology, Inc.

 

Next, print this interlaced image as you would any photograph, and then lay the Micro Lens Technology, Inc. lenticular sheet over the print to resolve depth.  Please note alignment of the images to the lenticular sheet is necessary.

 

If you are happy with what you see, you can permanently laminate the lens sheet to your interlaced print.  Instructions can be found in the lenticular help section of our web site.

 

For the perfectionist, a track to hold the digital camera and control the movement may soon be available.

 

Discussion 

We have been amazed at the image quality, 3D or flip, which can be obtained with a hand held digital camera.  After a few test images, a photographer gets a feel for the amount of movement between shots which produces good 3D.  With practice comes uniqueness and perfection.

Even portraits can turn out quite well if the time between shots is rapid.  Some digital cameras automatically take a series of shots which with practice on movement can turn out very well

With flip images, practice also makes perfect.  One quickly finds what makes easy flips, like a common background, being able to match the eyes up if two different people or poses, etc.

Please note this reference to R & D work is placed on this web site to stimulate interest in digital 3D photography.  Please feel free to pass on your results and any comments.

 

Ken Conley

Director

Micro Lens Technology, Inc.

February 12, 2004

Future articles will address:

(1) How to pick the right Lenticular sheet for the right job.
(2) A comparison of the different common printing techniques used for producing 3D images.
(3) Techniques of lens design.

Please note, if you have R & D articles to add to this collection, or if you have questions, please contact KenConley@aol.com.

Copyright 2002-2009 Micro Lens Technology, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.