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Spotlight: How This PPD Reader Added 3D Movement to Still Images

By David Schonauer   Wednesday January 10, 2018


The lines between still and motion photography continue to blur.

We recently heard from a reader, photographer Piotr Powietrzynski, about a technique he’s been experimenting with: adding a 3D movement to the two-dimensional photographs.

“Since I took my first photo, I’ve contemplated how to show the full depth of emotion in a two-dimensional photograph — how to to make the picture speak, without making it too obvious,”  said Powietrzynski. “For years I was studying the art of optical illusions. One day I came across a VoluMax 3D photo animator  demo on YouTube. That’s when I started to discover a new emotional outlet.”

Powietrzynski went on to animate six portraits from his archive. We feature the results today.

“My favorite image in this project is the opening photo (at top). The girl's eyes are undeniably mesmerizing,” says Powietrzynski. “I knew her beautiful hands opening this new dimension of would capture the full depth of emotion hidden in those eyes. My friend told me that when he first watched this sequence, he was so hypnotized by the illusion of the moving hands that he almost failed to pay attention to the woman’s beauty.”


Here, Powietrzynski explains how he animated the still photographs:

To achieve the effect, I used the Mesh Warp effect in Adobe After Effects (Go to: EFFECT > DISTORT > MESK WARP). I used the highest settings, 31 for Rows, 31 for Columns and 10 for Quality. To get stronger dynamics for hand movement in the first step I moved the hands closer to the head picture (MESH WARP A) and than moved the hands away from the head (MESH WARP B). There is of course more movement in this episode, including camera 3D movement and slight zooming.

It is a very CPU- and RAM-intensive task, so I would recommend installing as much memory as you can afford before attempting the process. I used a MAC PRO 2 x 3.06 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon with 64 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 installed.  

To render I am using Adobe Media Encoder. It’s great to use, because while it is rendering you can still work on other projects in After Effect, Photoshop, or other applications.

And one final thought: I love After Effects — I simply couldn’t live without it. And if you're familiar with Photoshop, it’s an easy transition to AE. Hope you enjoy my short video and check my Youtube channel  soon, I am already working on my next project.

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