Since Hollywood has decided everything has to be in 3D now, from Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation to The Green Lantern to The Bible and Cats and Dogs 2, I guess the rest of us have to imitate them. (I do everything I see on TV, and my parents have the lawsuit proceeds to prove it.)  But 3D cameras are expensive.  For example, this one is over $10,000 and still cheap compared to some of the competition.  Sony is planning to release a less expensive, consumer-friendly 3D camera, but, in the meantime, why not kick it old school and build your own HD anaglyph 3D camera?

What if I told you that you could build your own 3D camera with a stabilizer for less than $300?  How much would you pay for that?  Five hundred dollars?  Two thousand dollars?  Eleventy brazillion dollars?  No.  You can have it for less than $300, like I already said, so don’t pay more than that.  I’m never going to get rich selling stuff through an infomercial, am I?

Ron and AmyJo Proctor at Weber State University recently built this HD 3D camera set-up for $250:

They used two Kodak Zx1 cameras, which are currently $88 and up at  Amazon.  This shoots 720p HD video up to 60 fps with 16:9 aspect ratio.  It’s also small enough to set the two cameras only 6.5 cm apart, a normal baseline for the human eye.  If you want to film distant objects, move the two cameras a little further away from each other.  Other cameras can also be substituted.  For example, the HP V1020h Pocketcam, at $109 or less each, is also a good option.

Once the two cameras are chosen, the rest of the materials needed are cheap and easy to find:

(1) L-Shaped Extruded Aluminum
(2) 1/4″ Nylon Washers
(3) 1/4-20 Wingnuts
(2) 1/4-20 Panhead Machine Screws
(1) Tripod with Quick Release Shoe

A piece of L-shaped extruded aluminum was cut to length and drilled. Cameras are attached with 1/4-20 panhead machine screws, 1/4″ nylon washers, and 1/4-20 wingnuts. The apparatus is attached to a quick release shoe for use with a tripod. [SAVI]

Both videos are composited in video editing software.  If you don’t have one, a free editor like Blender can be used.  Take the red channel out of the right side, and the blue and green out of the left side.  To adjust the depth, change the x-direction offset between both video feeds.

Ron and AmyJo Proctor used this set-up to film this:

You know who really loves this 3D bird video?


You should have at least $50 left, which you could spend on 3D goggles for your cat (always a good decision), or you could build a $14 camera stabilizer:

(1) Simple barbell weight with a 1-1/4″ diameter hole, any weight up to 5 lbs)
(3) Pipes (recommended: 1/2″ diameter galvanized steel that’s threaded at the ends)
(3) End caps (make sure they fit the pipes)
(1) T-joint (make sure they fit the pipes)
(2) 1/4″ machine nuts
(2) Machine bolts (1-1/2″ long to fit 1/4″ nuts)
(3) Flange washers (1-1/2″ diameter for 1/4″ bolts)
(1) 1/4″ wing nut
(3) Lock Washers (for the 1/4″ bolts)
(1) 1/4″ drill bit (must go through galvanized steel)
(1) Electric Drill
(1) Pliers
(1) Screwdriver
(1) Hammer
(1) Stationary vise (optional)

The instructions are at MAKE and the video below:

That leaves at least $35, which you may need to rent a drill and hire a $15 crackwhore to star in your movie.  As for watching the movie, you’ll need red/blue 3D glasses.  Don’t have any?  I guess you can find some clear plastic and some red and blue markers and be as cool as this lady:

[Banner picture: Nicole Lindner]

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