3D 360 photos can be very immersive. But real 3D 360 cameras can be expensive and can often be complicated. In this post, we discuss a free software that makes it easier to shoot a basic type of 3D 360 photo using only one Ricoh Theta or other 360 camera.
It’s possible to make a simplified version of a 3D 360 photo with a single Ricoh Theta or other 360 camera. Back in January 2017, I posted a detailed tutorial.
In summary, you take two 360 photos from the same height, but around 6.5cm (about 2.5 inches) apart. That alone will not get you a correctly stitched 3D 360 photo. An important step is that in the rear-facing view, you need to swap the left and right camera views. Finally, the two files are combined in the standard top-bottom equirectangular 3D 360 format. It is simple but it will take several steps in Photoshop.
Free software for 3D 360 photos
Stereo Photo Maker, a free software that has long been a favorite in the 3D community, has a feature that can automate this process. Here is a tutorial:
Interestingly enough, the app has a mode for taking the second shot with the camera rotated 90 degrees. This changes the areas that you will need to swap in the equirectangular photos although I don’t know what is the benefit of doing it that way besides making it easier to tell which photo was taken from which side. In any case, the app can automate the swapping for photos taken this way as well, as shown in the tutorial.
Finally, you can also create a 3D tiny planet photo. Here is a tutorial:
Limitations of this method
Please note that the 3D 360 photo you create with this method will be 3D 360 in only two directions. To have a 3D 360 photo in four directions, you will need a true 3D 360 camera, with lenses that can face all four directions, such as Insta360 Pro ($3499) or Vuze Camera ($799).
How to share your 3D 360 photo
You can share your 3D 360 photos by uploading them to Veer, which supports 360 photos and videos, whether 2D or 3D, whether 360 or 180 or any other field of view, whether top-bottom or side-by-side. Here is a sample from Insta360 Pro. To view it in 3D, just tap on the Cardboard icon from your smartphone.
Thanks to Pepe Vazquez (360 Tips & Tricks) for bringing this to my attention!