Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Comments and Ratings

We've been hard at work adding new features to Start 3D. Now you can give feedback on photographs by leaving comments, or by rating the picture 1-5 stars. You need to be signed in to leave a comment or to rate a picture.

We hope you enjoy the new features.

3D My Christmas Tree

We want you to try 3D photography this Christmas, by sharing a 3D picture of your Christmas tree with your family and friends and the rest of the world. All you need to do is take two pictures of your tree, two inches apart (as if the cameras were your eyes). Upload the pictures to and be amazed by the 3D results.

To put your tree in the tree collection, click on the Christmas Tree icon in the photo view. Users can rate the submissions by clicking on the voting stars underneath each photo - and the top ranked tree appears on the front page.

Getting started in 3D is easy.

Friday, 18 December 2009

The Depth Slider

One of the more advanced features of the Piku-Piku viewer is the ability to dynamically control the perceived depth.

When the Piku-Piku is viewed in its compact form, with a single image, all of the images needed to perceive stereo depth are presented, but at the same time to both eyes. Some people perceive a Pulfrich-like effect, which causes them to experience depth when viewing in this mode.

When you view the Piku-Piku binocularly, your two eyes see two different views. In this view, you can control the interocular separation, which directly determines the amount of depth you perceive. You can dynamically exchange one dimension of space for time.

In today's update, the sliders are shown doubled in the parallel and cross-eye views. You should be able to use them whilst viewing the Piku-Piku. If you have a viewer, or know how to freeview, try it out.

Faces are particularly interesting to look at. Photographers know how the face is flattened by the camera, but you can see the effect for yourself as you change from 3D to 2D.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

New York Stereoscopic Society

The NY Stereoscopic Society blogged about us. Read it here.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

What's this all about?

If you're reading this thinking, "what is 3D photography anyway?" then you've absolutely come to the right place. This site is all about helping you make your own 3D photographs, and also share them with your family and friends. If you can take a photograph, then now you can take a 3D photograph. That is what Start 3D is all about.

A 3D photograph is a photograph that also shows you depth. Often, you need special glasses or equipment to see it. You may know the old red and blue glasses, or the yellow and blue filter of ColorCode, or polarized glasses like the RealD glasses at the cinema. If you are of the right age, you might know View-Master. Start 3D introduces a brand new way to experience 3D photos, called Piku-Piku (which approximately means "twitching"). A Piku-Piku is an animation that uses time to reveal the third dimension of the photograph on a flat screen, using no special equipment. Those of you who saw The Matrix should be familiar with the concept.

Not all "frozen-time" animations are Piku-Piku. One of the neat things about Piku-Piku is that they are self-calibrating1, making them comfortable to view. But the best bit is that you can create them yourself - by simply taking two photographs, roughly from the positions of your eyes, and uploading them to (email registration required). We do the rest. Your Piku-Piku will be available in seconds.

You can share your album with your family and friends by emailing the URL. If you chose to make your album private, the URL will have a special code in it that unlocks it - people who don't have the code can't see the album. That's all. Your family doesn't even need to register to see the picture. If you get a nice result, you can try to put your photo on the front page by clicking the 'Feature' button. in the image viewing page. We''ll choose our favourites and front page them.

Why not head over the now and find out for yourself what 3D photography is all about?

Colin Davidson
Founder, Start 3D

1 ok, only partially working for now, wait and see!

Monday, 14 December 2009

New Versions and Fixing Glitches.

Many users have pointed out to us glitches in their Piku-Piku. I hope that it doesn't upset anyone to see their pictures deform in unnatural ways! But, I thought you might want to know what causes the glitch.

In order to make a Piku-Piku, we need to do some kind of image processing on your image pair. We say that two pixels (one from each image) match if those pixels are the image of the same point in the world. So, for each pixel in one of your images, we need to find the matching pixel in the other image. If we can do that accurately, we can infer how much parallax the point should have (closer points should move more than distant points). And if we get that right, for every pixel, the little animation will look great.

Sounds easy? It isn't. There are three big problems. The first one is the wallpaper effect. But some of you know it as the striped scarf effect, and others as the wonky railings effect; still others as the magic sliding floor. Some bits of your image just look too much like other bits of your image, and, as a result, the matcher can erroneously put a whole region at the wrong depth.

The second problem is that it's just not a well-posed question. Some pixels don't have exactly one match! Something in the background might be hidden (occluded) in one view but visible in the other. Pixels near the edge are often cropped out in the other view. Or a pixel could be on a transparent reflective surface like a window, and match two different pixels. These pixels have to be filled in with some pragmatic and approximate techniques. Yes, I do mean that it's a total hack job.

And the third problem is thin structures. They so easily get attached to the thing behind them and move as if they were a line painted on the background. Yuck!

I realise that by now you're thinking that I've covered pretty much every pixel in your image. It's not easy to plan to avoid these issues, and I wouldn't want you to. Rather, when you see a glitch, instead of thinking it doesn't work, we'd like you to think that it doesn't work yet. To encourage you to think this way, we've released a new version of the image processing software! If you have glitches on your pictures then we invite you to switch to version 2. You can do that by viewing your album or photo and clicking on the '2' at the bottom next to the word 'Version'. In the album view, your images will be back to 'processing...' and then they'll appear. There are plenty more 'new versions' to come ... and not all of them are just about fixing glitches.

Getting started.

We've had a great response to the launch of Start 3D. Thank you for all the kind words and feedback. It's gratifying to see other people taking pleasure in something you've worked hard on. And thank you to those who ran into problems, and are helping us improve the site by telling us about them.

I'm very lucky to be working with a dedicated team of talented web developers and designers at Lateral. We've had a number of compliments about the look of the site, and I think they are to be congratulated on an amazing job in a very tight timeframe.

We have big plans for adding to the Piku-Piku technology that you can see on the site, and we hope that you'll keep coming back to enjoy each new iteration. We're just getting started.

Colin Davidson,
Founder, Start 3D

Thursday, 3 December 2009


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