Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stereoview GIFs


This was the week we all heard about New York Public Library's Stereogranimator that makes animated GIF files out of their stereoview collection.

I have quite a few stereoviews myself, so I wanted to do it. It's this week's crazy thing. I want to be a happening person.

You can see five images here. They might make you feel dizzy, but they're still cool.

I thought I'd write here about how I did them.

You use the software you have. I see there's something for freakin' Windows that helps you align the images, but I'm not quite ready to go over to the Dark Side. I have Graphic Converter and I have Illustrator, and if you're on a Mac you can do it with those.

The main thing you need to do is to align the two images properly. The rest is just implementation. For example take this view:

The anchor point should be on something near the middle in depth. For this image, I chose the tree in between the women and children and the train. The tree was good: I moved the second image around until the branches of the tree lined up.

1. Graphic Converter. I scanned the stereoview and converted to greyscale.

I did a test run with color, but the conversion to GIF seemed to create artifacts, so I let it go. For each of these the images are albumen prints in shades of brown, mounted on cards with wild colors like yellow, orange, or lime green.

2. Graphic Converter. Open the image, select each half, copy.

3. Illustrator. Create a three-layer image. Two layers are the two halves of the view. Make the upper layer 50% transparent, and move it around until the anchor point, like the tree up above, is aligned. The third layer, at the bottom, is a rectangle surrounding both the other layers.

4. Illustrator. Select one image and the rectangle, and export. Then select the other and the rectangle, and export.

Illustrator will export only the content, not empty space around it. The purpose of the rectangle is to make the two exported images the same size with the anchor point at the same location in both. The two images themselves may be slightly different widths, and in a stereoview each image always has a little bit on the right or left that is not in the other image, so the exported files will not align without the rectangle around them.

5. Graphic Converter. Using Convert & Modify, select the two images exported from Illustrator and tell it to create an animated GIF from them. I used a delay of 0.2 seconds.


Except it was not done in one case, which happened to be the first one I tried. It's the last of the five images on that page. It just didn't work, and I didn't see why. I finally realized that the views were not mounted exactly right on the card. They were on two separate prints. When I rotated one of them 1 degree, suddenly it all worked. I anchored it on the boy on the platform.

PS: New Jersey Terminals is coming along. I was going to put the maps up one or two a week, but what happened is that I keep finding corrections that had to go back a few steps up the line. Just yesterday I found out something at 1915 that had to copy up to 1925, 1935, and 1945. So I'm holding on to them rather than keep uploading updates. It's going to be good.


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