The way we access media is once again changing. It was only a few years ago that everyone suddenly experienced High Definition screens, and suddenly no one would go back. Now, the cutting edge technology is 3D. This more immersive viewing experience might become the new standard in another few years. So, video geeks and novices alike are going to have to start learning how to produce 3D video.
First, a general outline. 3D is produced by having each of your eyes see a different image at the same time. These images are taken at different perspectives (right and left), thus allowing your brain to comprehend depth perception as you would viewing the real world. Most 3D monitors and projectors use polarized light to do this. two signals are shown on a screen: one is polarized horizontally, one is polarized vertically. Your naked eye can see both, but the glasses cut off the light waves (with the equivalent of microscopic vertical or horizontal lines) such that each eye only sees one of the two images. And voila – 3D!
But how do we produce 3D footage? Fortunately, 3D TV’s give us a variety of input methods so that we don’t have to do any of the polarizing. If you give the TV a feed of the two images simply side-by-side, the TV will combine them and polarize them for a 3D effect. All we have to do is produce video from two different 3D perspectives. Now, to do live video this way would require either two cameras directly next to each other or a 3D camera (Sony makes a consumer version). But today we’re going to learn how to make digital 3D images, which can range from as simple as text that comes out of a screen to complicated 3D models (water, smoke, explosions). If you know the basics of Apple Motion, then this blog post will be a way to translate these skills into a 3D capacity using camera angles. If not, I recommend going to the Apple Motion tutorials on Lynda.com (through the OIT website) first.
Begin by opening apple motion, and choosing the format that you prefer. I always use HDV, 1080p24 (high-def, film frame rate). We’re going to create 3-dimensional moving text. Using the text button (The big “T” in the upper left corner), type your favorite word in the middle of the black screen. Then, click on “New Camera” in the upper right hand corner. Immediately, Motion will ask whether you want to “switch to 3D” or keep as 2D. Choose to switch to 3D. You will now see controls in the upper right hand corner of the screen. These controls mimic moving a camera – pan, orbit, and dolly. Click and hold the mouse down while moving around to move around your text in 3 dimensions.
The record button (big red circle in the bottom center) enables easy key-framing of elements, such as your text. Click it to turn on. Then click on your text. In the top left corner, click on the “Inspector” tab. You will see controls for your text. Now click on the “Properties” tab. Click the arrow next to “Position” to bring down the 3D position controls for the item. On the right of the Z-axis, click the small dash and select “Add Keyframe.” Then, in the small timeline at the bottom of the screen (gray bar with blue arrows on either side), move forward in time. Now, make the Z-axis number larger. This will automatically add another keyframe if the record button is on. Now, if you move around in the timeline, you will see that the text moves towards you over time.
Now, turn off the record button.
To output this video to 3D, we need to create two separate angles of this, and output each individually to quicktime files. Click “New Camera” again. Drag your timeline upwards (from the bottom of the screen) and name one camera right, the other left. Click on the right camera, and in the Inspector>Properties tab, under rotation, move it 3 degrees to the right on the Y-axis. Move the left camera 3 degrees to the left. To output 3D video, deselect one of the cameras in the timeline (so it’s layer doesn’t exist), then File>Export a quicktime video with either left or right in the file name (whichever camera is active). Do the same for the other camera. Now, open Final Cut Pro. Import the two quicktime files, and put them in the sequence one on top of the other.
Under the motion tab for each clip, change to distort>aspect ratio to 100. Change the x-axis of the center of the left clip to -360, and the right clip to 360.
Export this to video to quicktime, and your 3D TV will play the clip!
Here’s the final video in 3D: (you can choose to cross your eyes or use red/blue glasses to watch it)