What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Monday Edition

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3D Referee

This Week’s coin flip video is in 3D. If you had 3D glasses, it’d be awesome. But you probably don’t.

You might think it's all fun and games to be the Ref, but you don't have to walk around public places wearing polyester. Still, I'll take my job over Steve's. My "acting" usually takes a few minutes, then he's up all night adding the magic.

At the beginning of the season, we wrote down a bunch of ideas for Ref videos. Then we lost the list and we're always scrambling on Wednesdays to shoot and edit something. 3D had been on Steve's mind for a while, but there was the obvious problem that you'd need 3D glasses to watch it.

I'd f**ked off to Maine for the last two weeks and shot the ref videos myself on a digital still camera (I had to make up for the weak cinematography and poor resolution by embarassing myself at Niagara Falls.) So Steve wanted to do something special for this week. We discussed some of our long-shelved ideas and 3D came up again. "Let's do it." I said. "I'll figure out the glasses."

So Steve got to work, doing some tests with old videos, mostly using this tutorial along with this stereo calculator and a program to see how the videos will look when separated. He was confident it'd work, so we went out and shot some footage.

Meanwhile, I was trying to rig up some DIY 3D glasses.

For Steve's tests, I stole a pair of 3D glasses from my daughter's Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus DVD (I think James Cameron directed that one; it's a masterpiece) and set out to figure out a way for people to make their own on a slow summer Friday at work. "How hard can it be?" I thought. "We'll make glasses you can print out on acetate on an inkjet."

First, I found a clear plastic bag (actually a piece of shrink wrap) and tried coloring it with a red Sharpie and a blue Sharpie. It SORTA worked, though the eye spacing was all wrong and the wrinkles in the bag and the swirls in the marker ink were hard to see through. Also, the Blue needed to be cyan (blue highlighter didn't cut it either). Still, it was proof-of-concept.

Next, I dug around the office for some inkjet transparency film. I only found laser film, and some inkjet transparent labels. I also tracked down a NASA PDF with a 3D glasses template (in their version you're supposed to cut out the holes and glue in some colored film, but who has colored film around?).

Laser transparency film doesn't like inkjets. The ink was blotchy and didn't dry, but it was fairly transparent. When I stuck the two test sheets together, I got a sweet blotchy mess that would make a great background projection for the Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

"Transparent" inkjet decals are not transparent, they're translucent. No good. But things seemed promising, if only I could get the right tools.

So I was off to the office supply store to buy inket transparency film. Sadly, they sell it by the 45-pack, for $40, which seems pretty ridiculous. And it took 20 minutes to find it, even with a salesman helping me. I guess no one uses overhead projectors anymore. I also bought a cyan ("turquoise") Sharpie.

Turns out $40 transparent inkjet film isn't entirely transparent, either; it has little chunks all over it for the ink to stick to. And somehow the same inkjet ink that was more or less transparent on the laser acetate became entirely translucent on the inkjet version. Dang.

Last chance was my turquoise Sharpie. Amazingly, it was for some reason more translucent (and more prone to swirlyness) than the blue one. Strike seven.

I guess there still might be a way to make it work. Maybe laser transparency film in a laser printer works, though laser toner is generally translucent or opaque; we don't have one here to try out. The marker thing might work with the right markers and the right film, if you cut it all out properly. If you wanna have a go at it, let us know if you find something that works.

If you DO happen to have a pair of 3D glasses around, it works pretty well, especially if you're 2-3 feet away from the screen. You could always go out and buy Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus but, frankly, seeing this ref video isn't worth supporting that franchise. If you have kids, you already have six pairs of "modern" 3D glasses sitting around, but those use polarization, not color, for the 3D effect and won't work. And if you've seen Coraline or Up!, you're not going to be terribly impressed with our little project anyway. But for the 1% of you that are able to witness Layer Tennis' first (and almost surely last) 3D coin flip, we hope you enjoy it.

—BB, "The Ref"

Update! Nick Campbell points out that Rainbow Symphony offers free 3-D glasses with a SASE. You'd want the "Anaglyph" Red/Cyan glasses. So at least you can see it eventually, for the price of two stamps.

Update 2! Rich Moffitt writes "Have you ever used lighting gel samples? You can get them for free most of the time, or Amazon sells them." Sure, lighting gels would work great, in fact the NASA glasses recommended doing just that, but we were looking for something cheap or free and available anywhere. We hadn't considered samples, though, good idea!

The Flips

The Ref flips a coin to determine who will serve each week's Layer Tennis match. Ref fans: visit our complete archive of coin flips.

Layer Tennis

Layer Tennis is a live design competition organized by Coudal Partners and sponsored by Adobe Creative Suite. Learn more here.

Infrequent mail

For a quick note when stuff like this gets posted and other sporadic updates, which always include a way to win free stuff, enter your email here. We won't ever abuse the privilege. Period.

Things We Made

We hated the options available for custom packaging DVDs and CDs so we created a brand that gives creative professionals and hobbyists the tools to make great stuff.

The 2006 edition of Field-Tested Books, our summer reading feature.

Also, take a few minutes (eleven actually) to check our first short feature film, Copy Goes Here.