Stereoscopic Photography Gets a Reboot

12th Jan

The Flash Pack is giving stereoscopic imaging a 21st century makeover.


A Brief History of Stereoscopic Photography

Nothing piques our interest quite like an optical illusion – this became painfully clear when the internet exploded in early 2015 over the colour scheme of a dress (as documented here by Wikipedia). But our obsession with visual trickery certainly isn’t new – we’ve been coming up with fun ways to fool our mind’s eye for hundreds of years.

The stereoscope is one of the most famous optical illusions you’ve probably never heard of. Developed by Victorian-era inventor Charles Wheatstone, the stereoscope was designed to trick the brain into perceiving a flat, two-dimensional images as a three-dimensional space. The technique is actually quite simple – by placing two different angles of the same image side-by-side, you can create the illusion of depth.

To Victorian audiences this was, quite literally, a mind-blowing experience. The stereoscope craze was initiated by none other than Queen Victoria herself, and the London Stereoscopic Company aimed to put “a stereoscope in every home” – and they nearly did.

Moreover, the legacy of this centuries-old technology is still in intact today, as the simple concept behind the stereoscope has driven some of the most important cinematic and photographic effects of our time.

Pictures That Can Shake Your Hand

From 3D films to Keanu Reeves dodging bullets in The Matrix (as this clip from Youtube shows), today, the stereoscope’s legacy is far reaching. Amazingly, the effect that blew the minds of Victorian lads and ladies 150 years ago is still managing to awe and inspire the tech-savvy audiences of today.

In fact, the “bullet rig” used in those famous Matrix scenes employed the same fundamental technique as the original stereoscope – by stitching together shots from multiple camera angles (in this case, between say, seven and 100), the film was able to create the illusion of a three-dimensional moment, frozen in time.

What makes the effect so powerful is that it actually pulls the onlooker into the shot, heightening the power of the experience through the illusion of immersion. Unsurprisingly, as the technologies powering the effect have evolved, offshoots of the original technique have been popping up all across the modern media landscape. 

Depth and Dimensionality

Today, you can turn on pretty much any professional sporting match today and you’ll see exactly what we’re talking about.

Not only does this dramatically enhance the viewing experience for sports fanatics, but it offers a chance to view important plays in exciting new ways – not to mention that watchers can now catch important details that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Adverts are jumping on the stereoscopic bandwagon as well – Ford recently offered its potential customers an interactive, 3D advertorial experience, wherein users could explore the new 2015 Ford Mustang from every possible angle with the simple swipe of a finger.

Amobee 3D - Ford Mustang Campaign (iPad) from Amobee on Vimeo.

Not only was the ad a fun, immersive experience for consumers, but it proved to be a neat trick for investors as well, with purchase consideration for the new Mustang shooting up 40% after viewing. Despite being over a century and a half old, it would seem that our obsession with all things three dimensional is only growing stronger.

For a few years now, companies have built one-off “bullet rig” installations to give eventgoers that coveted 3D photography experience. Production values were high but the costs were astronomical, making the effect inaccessible to the masses. Moreover, the rigs were typically too large-scale for medium to small venue use, and guests were unable to share or even view their images in real-time.

A Stereoscopic You

One of The Flash Pack’s principal aims is to democratise incredibly cool (and previously cost-prohibitive) photo technologies and give 3D back to the people. With the help of our incredible in-house tech team, we’ve created some amazingly sophisticated systems that are more affordable, customisable and user-friendly than ever before.

With our seven-camera Stereoscopic 3D Photo Booth, or our 45, 180 or 360 degree 3D Bullet Rigs, not only can you step into your very own Victorian stereoscopic image or freeze a Matrix-style moment in time, but you can share those incredible images with the world seconds later...

Whether you’re looking to spice up your wedding with a Stereoscopic Booth or throwing a glamorous, industry-topping event like the GQ Men of the Year Awards that demands pulling out all of the stops with a massive 100-camera rig, we have something to fit every scale and budget. If Queen Victoria is up there watching right now, our guess is she’s green with envy.