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Simple Methods to Produce Stereoscopic Videos

by Nathan Zachary
Stereoscopic Videos

Stereoscopic Wave

When you think of stereoscopic or 3D video presentations, you might be reminded of View master slides from your youth or moviegoers in the 1950s donning cardboard 3D glasses. But with a new era of technology that has trickled down from movie theaters to the consumer level, 3D has entered a new generation. But it doesn’t cost as much to produce 3D stereo videos as a Hollywood blockbuster. Making and displaying stereoscopic 3D videos is now relatively simple for the hobbyist thanks to new cameras and equipment.

Beginning with the Camera

Investing in a specialized stereoscopic video camera is the best place to start if you’re ready to venture into 3D video. Two basic types of stereoscopic video cameras exist. either rig that holds two cameras in place to achieve the same effect or cameras with a pair of lenses that are sufficiently spaced apart to capture simultaneous separate images. A great illustration of the latter is GoPro’s Dual HERO system. There are even dual-lens adapters that fit over your iPhone or Android and allow you to take stereoscopic pictures at their most basic.

You are prepared to begin capturing the raw footage required to produce your stereoscopic video with either of these camera types. Remember that you can change the parallax setting—basically, how far apart each lens is from the other—on some 3D cameras and systems. You can reduce or increase the stereoscopic effect by adjusting parallax. As a general rule, the effect is more dramatic the wider the parallax setting. So choose wider parallax settings if you want a dramatic effect.

Obtaining The Desired Results Through Content

3D shot composition is just as important as 2D, if not more so. It’s tempting to think all photos will be stereoscopic. Not always. To get the best results, consider the foreground, midground, and background planes.

Foreground items are those closest to the camera. Foreground objects can be shocking. Consider some of the more clichéd 3D imagery, such as a snake or a sword charging at you. Foreground. To draw attention, center these elements.

Mid-background elements frame the foreground. They scale and move foreground objects. Remember the sword? Our mid-background hero is either stationary or moves slowly toward us, helping our eyes interpret the sword’s scale and motion.

Our background composition adds realism and detail to stereoscopic videos. This is especially true when all three are present. Far-background images are motionless because they’re far from the camera, giving our eyes and brains another visual reference.

Our stereoscopic videos lack these elements. If there is no motion near the camera when photographing a city skyline, the effect is flat and lacks stereoscopic pop. In the absence of a mid- and far-background, foreground objects can appear detached, like cut-out figures stuck to the paper. To make your video interesting, choose compositions with many different elements.

Choosing the Correct Tools for Editing Your Content

You’ll edit your footage once you have it to make it shine. Don’t rely on the naive assumption that 3D stereoscopic footage will by itself be an engaging video. As with any video, keep in mind that the story should be the focus of your work.

Although many 3D cameras include some basic editing software, working with more sophisticated programs will yield the best results. To enable 3D editing and rendering, some of the top programs, like Adobe’s Premiere Pro, might need some specialized plug-ins. Certain aspects of the editing process, like where text elements or menus are placed, occasionally have quirks. Before choosing the editing software platform you want to use, browse the many great online forums.

Get Your Audience – Sharing Your Work on Platforms

You’ll want to share your stereoscopic masterpiece with others now that you’ve finished it. Online is probably one of the simplest ways to go about doing this. Anyone can view the results using a cheap pair of cardboard red-blue-lens glasses and YouTube’s dedicated stereoscopic 3D channel. You only need to upload your split-frame 3D video. Viewers of YouTube will have the option to switch to the 3D-ready mode.


As we’ve seen, there are many ways to produce, edit, and distribute stereoscopic videos. Many of these methods are also fairly easy to learn and apply. The same principles that apply to creating any video also apply to producing 3D stereoscopic videos. Consider the story you want to tell with your video before you forget the fundamentals of what you’re shooting and how you’re going to compose your shots. Keep in mind those principles, and your output will always be something you can be proud of.

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