I am glad to introduce DitoGear™ Spotlight – a new series of postings showcasing the most interesting projects and techniques used by DitoGear™ equipment users. The main goal is integrating the DitoGear™ community a bit and helping you spread out word about your projects.
This week we’re starting with something really special – Lenticular 3D Photography and our guest is Mr. Guillaume d’Hubert, the founder of StudioGH in France. Long time ago Guillaume approached us with a request to build an ultra fast custom OmniSlider version and I was really intrigued about the purpose of such modification…
Share your interesting stories with us and we’ll possibly have you spotlighted. Time for Mr. Guillaume now.
Patryk Kizny: Dear Guillaume, can you tell us what exactly is a Lenticular 3D Photography?
Guillaume d’Hubert: Lenticular photography is a domain of photography which includes flip images, morph images and 3d images, they all use the same support called lenticular sheets to achieve their effect. The lenticular sheet is a plastic sheet extruded with a very fine lens array laminated over an interlaced image which has the faculty to show two different images to each of your eyes. Allowing to create moving images (like cards we had in cereal boxes back in the years) or 3d images (because it is the way our brain create 3d vision by seeing simultaneously two slightly different images).
Click here for an animated approximated s3D preview.
PK: I see. Is it very popular? How has it been evolving with time?
GH: Popular? Yes in a way. Lenticular images have always attracted attention of marketers to produce cheap gadget images but it is also a weak point because most people consider the lenticular images as widgets. What is new is that lenticular allows to create new kind of photographs where the depth is added as a new component of the picture just as color when it appeared, we want our 3d to be natural.
The evolution has been very long since the very beginning of the 20th century, many great scientists contributed to make it evolve. The greatest is certainly Gabriel Lippmann who also had the Nobel prize for color photography in 1908 but never saw any lenticular images: he just had discovered the concept of integral photography which leads to the concept of the actual plenoptic cameras such as the Lytro camera.
Another great pioneer was a French scientist, Maurice Bonnet that developed in the 40s a camera able to capture 25 pictures at once to make lenticular glass prints: it was in the analog era so the method was different but the idea is very close to the way I am working on currently. In the modern era, Mr. Pierre Alio, also French, created a company called Alioscopy specialized in LCD lenticular screens with a system specially developed which prefigures the future of glasses free systems. Actually there are very few photographers in the world who can achieve portraits. In France I know three other people working with different methods and Henri Clément – a very talented Parisian photographer that kindly helped me. There is also a gentleman in Australia that achieves pretty good results with a camera array and some others but on the whole we are still on a desert island to say the least.
Click here for an animated approximated s3D preview.
PK: When did you get to know this technique and for how long have you been using it?
GH: Back from Photokina 2010 I had bought a cold laminator and I was asking myself what great things I could do with it apart laminating pictures. I found that some people talking about glasses free pictures done using a cold laminator. I looked further and found a degree memoire from the famous French school Louis Lumière explaining the principles of this technique and started to wonder how I could create such images myself. It took me six months to work it out and to see such pictures with my eyes: I was immediately thrilled by the results. it was two years ago.
PK: Wow, that’s really interesting… A bit like the thing with s3D that has been trying to get into the mainstream of film production for about 100 years. What do you use this technique for?
GH: My main goal is two achieve compelling portraits, but I also explore the capabilities for objects, spaces and basically everything that can be represented in an artistic way using a camera: I have always been and will remain a photographer.
PK: Can you tell us a bit about the technical challenges while shooting L3DP?
GH: There are numerous challenges: the goal is to capture the subject from as many angles as possible with a camera moving as fast as possible in front of it. The subject has to remain perfectly still during the process, the shutter speed must be 1/500 which implies a powerful lighting system. The interlaced picture needs to be printed at the highest level of detail to achieve a clear and sharp effect on a mirror-like, glossy paper and to the very end you have to align the lens sheet with the printed picture with a very very small margin of error: it is tricky on small sizes but it becomes a real challenge on large format up to 1 meter wide.
PK: You’re using a customized OmniSlider for shooting L3DP. Can you tell us a bit more what role exactly the OmniSlider plays in your work? Why did you choose this kind of solution?
GH: I made my first attempts with a column from a Polaroid stative I had in the studio. It took a minute to displace the camera, the subject (my daughter Alice) had to remain still and the result was… horrible so I had to find a motorized device.
I started to google around. After a while I found a post on DVforum talking about a stepper motorized rail prototype made by a Polish guy who was planning to commercialize his system for movies and video needs. I contacted him, Ditogear was just starting, and I had confirmation that this would be the right tool for my needs. I sold my good old Rolleiflex and ordered a two meters long OmniSlider.
The results were far beyond my expectations: all was computer controllable, repeatable very precisely. I have been able to capture sequences of images within a fraction of millimeters of span to render macro subjects in 3D such as a watch mechanism.
For portrait it was also perfect: I could get a series of 40 pictures in only 3 or 4 seconds allowing me to capture portraits of non-trained persons, thankful to the modified firmware you did for me. For children, animals and moving subjects we are actually working on a 7 camera array synchronized together to fire in the same milliseconds.
PK: What special methods did you invent or you apply to make it better technically?
GH: Most of my methods are secrets and I should eliminate people to whom I told them!
Seriously? As I am not an engineer I had to find my solutions on the market and I did: the rail comes from Poland as you may know, the interlacing software comes from Russia (Triaxes 3dMasterkit), the laminator is from Germany, the printer comes from Japan (Epson 9900) and the lenticular sheets are from the USA and Austria.
The learning curve was quite long because nothing is clearly explained in one place. I had to make trials and errors to achieve a result and improve it until I hit the bell on every attempt which is the case today. The main difficulty is the step which consists in pasting the lens on the printed picture: we really need to be trained to make it perfect, a small error and all is ruined.
One of the greatest improvements since I started was the addition of the OmniHead to “follow” the subject, it gives a more realistic effect and simplifies a bit the interlacing step because pictures are closer of each others than in the previous “straight” method.
PK: How does this market look like in general? Is it mostly focused on consumer services and delivering to end customers or it works on a B2B level as well? What are the most important clients for you?
GH: I’d make a distinction between the regular lenticular market (flip images, 3d rendered pictures), which is oriented towards large consumer market at a very low cost, and what is, I believe, to be my future market which actually calls to be created (!). We are aiming high-end clients for in-store visuals or decoration, museums and any person who’d love to keep a record of their beloved one in 3D.
The images I produce have rarely been seen before and actually nobody thinks of a photography as a glasses-free 3d photography. Our current business is a regular 2d photography business and nobody ever came and asked us for a 3d portrait: we have to show them, we have to spread the word that it is now possible and convert our activity to 3d just as photographers converted from black and white to color, analog to digital.
PK: What are most renown or most important projects you did?
GH: Last year I went to Baselworld in order to get in touch with great firms in the jewelry, I pushed doors and had very interesting feedback. I had confirmation that nobody uses such images yet, but there still is no big contracts for now.
On our way to Basel we made a stop at the Schlumpf Auto Museum in Mulhouse, France. I had arranged an appointment with the director who loved our work and we arranged a photo-shoot of the cars to see how it could look.
The project is still going on but this kind of pictures can be a very good support for museum to show their treasures in a new way. The other important project we had was our exposition of carnival characters from our city. It was a very fun project: at the end we had 28 portraits in large format which makes a very nice exhibition to show around.
What is very fun, is that when I meet a person that I show my work to, usually people have never seen such pictures and the contact is easier in comparison of regular pictures: the lenticular really attracts attention and that is very pleasant, it helps to open the doors. The main difficulty is to show the work, internet is not actually very 3d friendly and the real visual experience can only be made in person.
PK: Where can we admire the prints in the real life? Any museums/galleries/trade shows?
GH: In 2012 we made several exhibitions in France, Hong Kong and lately at the Photokina fair where unfortunately all our pictures were stolen at the end of the show (may be a sign of interest?). In fact, lenticular printing is just a new way to show pictures once captured: the best actually, optically speaking, but tomorrow our IPads, TV sets and cell phones will be able to display such pictures in a very good way and then content will be needed. We’ll be there to fulfill this new expectation, I hope.
PK: Many thanks for your explanations and sharing your techniques that generously. Wishing you good luck with your future projects.
Follow the work of Guillaume d’Hubert: