May 8, 2006

9/11 in 3D

[Note: See update for images you can view in 3D without the need for special glasses.]

wtc3dx2.jpgOn September 16, 2001, posted a video of aerial views of the World Trade Center site taken by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flying around lower Manhattan. Using near-consecutive frames from this video to simulate right-eye and left-eye views, I’ve created 3D images of Ground Zero as seen a few days after the attacks of 9/11.

To view these images in 3D properly, I’m afraid you need those red-and-blue glasses that give some people headaches. But it might be worth finding a pair to see what the terrorists did in a way only people who were there in person saw it previously — in three dimensions. I think it’s pretty powerful.

That reminds me: Sorry for such a heavy topic on a Monday morning.

Below is a gallery of thumbnails. Click on any individual image to see the full image in a pop-up window.

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Update: Read on to see images of Ground Zero that you can experience in 3D without glasses.

Personally, the following method of viewing images in 3D gives me a headache, but I’ve had a request to include images for use with this method, so I’m happy to do it.

To view the following pairs of images in 3D, cross your eyes until the two pictures converge into one. That single image will be in 3D. If your head hurts or you develop eye strain, stop! I don’t recommend doing this for very long.











This was really something. I’m a big enough dork to already have a pair of 3D glasses sitting around so I viewed these right away. Somehow it never occurred to me that a film or video with a moving camera might offer up stereoscopic views—and I’m a proud owner of a Victoian stereo viewer and a couple of old bakelite Viewmasters.
Well done.

If you still have the frames you made that from as separate images, would you mind putting them up on a separate page or something, so those of us without 3D glasses can see them as cross-eyed 3D images like these? Thanks!

Roland, I considered posting cross-eye views, but decided against it. However, I’ll take your suggestion and add some cross-eye views later this week. -David

Good, but why are these pictures so small?

They are so small because they come from television footage, which is low-resolution to begin with. Making them smaller was no doubt necessary to produce some semblance of sharpness.

Cubert, the images are small because the source video was small for on-line streaming. Remember, not everyone had broadband in 2001. If I had the original video, I’d love to have done them bigger. -David

Thanks for the update, this is incredible.

The easiest way to make 3-d images is an animated GIF that shows the two images in rapid succession. I don’t know why it’s not used more.


Much better source for examples and info about wiggle stereoscopy:

Argh, crosseye images hurt my eyes. Walleye images are much easier for most people. They’re exactly the same as those random-dot stereograms that were all the rage 10 years ago. Here are some 3D photos taken with a cheap 3D camera:

The wiggle technique is pretty cool, too.

great shots. how about putting them on flickr to make browsing easier?

I’m a cross-eye freeviewer from ‘way back.
Thanks for the beautiful job.

You don’t have to cross your eyes… like a poster above said… just relax your eyes and look through the image, like it is a stereogram. These are great, thanks.

Great images. Id love to see a write up on your method. Would it be outside your knowledge level to convert video to anaglyph video??? Hows about lager images? thanks for the work

Well this is… interesting :)
Unfortunately i don’t have the afore mentioned glasses.
Everytime I see 3d glasses it reminds me of that movie Curly Sue.
I don’t wanna think of terrorism when I think of Curly Sue, it’s just not right.

Can you also post a set with the images around the other way for those of us that do the opposite of the cross-eyed thing?

It is much less eyestrain to do the two-image shots in parallel rather than cross-eyed. It is much harder to maintain focus on a point between your monitor and eyes than it is to focus on a point beyond your monitor. This “parallel” method is the way nearly all Magic Eye drawings work, despite the fact that people suggest “crossing your eyes” to view them, for lack of a better explanation.

Seriously, try reversing the arrangement of the two-image versions. Or do what some people do and repeat one image on both sides to allow both crossed and parallel methods.

Thank you so much for the non-glasses versions. I actually used to do that sort of photography, but all the people I showed it to were like, “I can’t do that.” Well I can, and thank you. :D

I believe you could achieve the same effect without crossing your eyes by holding up a piece of card stock (or other blank stiff medium) so that it separates the images and your eyes—left sees only left, right sees only right—like a true old-school stereogram.


Great job with the cross-eyed views. I prefer free-viewing to analglyph glasses. If you still have the video you could create a 3D video version that can be viewed using the Shutter Glasses. It’s worth looking into…that would be awe-inspiring to post an MPEG 3D video of this pivotal event in history.

Omigod. I’ve never tried the cross eye thing before and it was amazing. It did hurt a bit, but I was so fascinated I couldn’t stop looking. Wow.

It only hurts while you’re in the process of crossing your eyes. Move in and out from the photos until you’re at a comfortable distance from the screen. Keep crossing your eyes until they “lock” into place on the “center” 3D photo; your eyes won’t hurt anymore. You can then quickly go from photo to photo without having to re-do the process.

3D Photographer Brian Loube was there on September 11 with his 3D camera snapping away:

If you can find a set of his images and view them through a stereo viewer, do so. They have a power I’ve not seen in any other footage of September 11.

Its amazing to see modern monumental events using this technique. The whole parallax abuse is also a friend of mine.

I paint in aerosol, large-scale, in red/blue anaglyphic colours. Yet to develop the full-colour technique though. :P

This was my first attempt but its blue on left,red on right:

For the Donnie Darko UK launch

Drawn for Kangol

Dammit, I can’t cross my eyes.

I third (or forth?…) the request for a “parallel” version. Or I could just open up a paint program…

omg that is so sad

Another vote for the “parallel” Magic-Eye version, please. (It also looks larger when you do it that way, and doesn’t hurt your vision.)

Those are incredible, thank you so much.

Those pictures were fantastic. Surely the single greatest controlled demolition job in history. Nice site.

does someone here can recomand me a good cheap way to create 3d video film?

i cant beleive that so many ppl died if ppl didnt fight then this wouldnt b a promblem

I have some stereo pairs taken in the first week at ground zero. They were shot on the ground, mostly around the south tower. email me David.