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How to Become a 3D Photographer and Filmmaker

Jonathan has been a 3D enthusiast, videographer and photographer for over a decade and keeps abreast of all things related to stereo 3D.


3D is a phenomenon that never goes away, even when its detractors proclaim its death like clockwork every now and then. There is something magical about seeing an artificial reproduction with depth perception, producing visceral reactions even more dramatic than other technologies. But don't think you need to have the backing and budget of a major film studio, because you can make your own 3D content right now!

3D Photos

If you have a smartphone with a camera, which is almost everyone at this point, you can start taking 3D pictures of stationary subjects right away. While there are many 3D camera apps for both Android and Apple, there are none better than 3D Steroid and 3D Steroid Pro. Since 3D images are really just two offset images (one for your left eye and one for your right eye), the app will prompt you to take one image, move the camera very slightly to the side and take another, after which the app will automatically align the two as best possible. Through trial and error, you will learn the optimum distance to move the camera between shots based on your distance to the nearest subject. You will then have the option to save your 3D pictures in different formats, such as anaglyph (for use with red and blue 3D glasses) and parallel (which can be viewed by putting your phone in a cheap VR viewer).

If you use a standalone camera such as a DSLR, you can use a slider bar to achieve better stability between shots, and use Stereo Photo Maker to format your images, the easiest, most comprehensive and widely used 3D software among 3D photographers. If you ever want to branch out into photography of moving subjects with a fixed twin-lens camera, there are several options on the used market such as the Fuji W3 and the JVC-GSTD1, as well as more recent cameras such as Weeview's SID and QooCam's EGO. These cameras also allow for shooting video in 3D.

3D Videos

If you want to make 3D movies, some have made their own 3D camera rigs using two identical camcorders. This is fine for playing around with or for filming subjects with little to no motion, and then only with brief shots, but the fact remains that any affordable camera will not have the ability to be exactly synchronized with another, even if an identical model. When filming in 3D, these discrepancies are only amplified, causing contradictions and discomfort for the viewer that are typically irreparable. The most cost effective method that also produces the best results is to use a dedicated 3D camcorder, such as those mentioned above.

When you need to edit the footage, one of the best and still available editors would be CyberLink PowerDirector, which has been supporting 3D for some years now. Here you can edit video and photos from most 3D cameras, and fully integrate with advanced features like green screen, animated titles, masking and more. It has the ability to output 3D in different resolutions, frame rates, bit rates and viewing formats and of special note is its ability to author true Blu-ray 3D discs with menus, something that many popular 3D editing software cannot do. When it comes to 3D editing and output, you will face a learning curve separate from 2D video regarding such things as parallax adjustment, 3D tagging, appropriate file formats, frame rate compatibility and more. These and more are addressed in the video below.

How to Edit Stereoscopic 3D

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3D Viewing

Now that you have 3D content, how can you watch it yourself and share it with others? The best way of course would be via USB thumb drive or disc along with a 3D compatible screen. While 3D flat-panel televisions and monitors are no longer made at this time, the used market in many areas such as Facebook Marketplace has a number to choose from affordably, a few of which use the same cheap passive glasses used in most movie theaters. When it comes to projectors, 3D models never stopped being made and you can choose from budget-friendly standard definition projectors or 4K 3D projectors, all of which are compatible with affordable rechargeable LCD shutter glasses. A note of caution in this regard is to avoid all very cheap or unknown overseas brands, as these frequently outright lie about 3D compatibility, resolution and brightness/lumens. It is always better to use trusted brands such as BenQ, ViewSonic and Epson. If you would be more interested in a smaller screen, there are glasses-free 3D tablets and phones available to purchase from ProMa, Leia and Rokit. Don't want to invest in display technology, or what your audience to be able to watch on their own devices? No problem, as you can share 3D content in anaglyph or in side-by-side format for VR.

3D content definitely adds more work to the pipeline, but when done well it also provides a unique wow-factor and a memorable experience that will stay with your audience.

© 2022 Jonathan Sabin

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