Wiggle Stereoscopy

Wiggle stereoscopy has become my new obsession since viewing some of the amazing samples below. Wiggle is a DIY glasses-free 3D format that is simple (at least in concept) to create. If you want to create your own wiggle photo or video, keep reading. If you just want to enjoy some great wiggle art, scroll down to the bottom!

To create a wiggle stereoscopic still photo, two separate images are taken from slightly different perspectives. These are then combined into an animated GIF that is set to rapidly flip back and forth between two slightly different perspectives. Okay, so let’s wiggle it! (Just a little bit)

Shooting Wiggle Stereoscopy

  • Choose a subject that has depth – there must be separation between foreground and background elements (if you’re interested in learning more about 3D composition, see my book Shoot 3D Like a Pro).
  • Gather two images for each shot. The difference in perspectives should be the approximate width between the pupils of each eye (i.e. you should move the camera about four inches between each shot).
  • Keep the same exposure settings for each photo. They must be as near to identical as possible or you won’t get your wiggle on later!
  • Use a tripod if possible. It will be very difficult to match the level between the photos otherwise.
  • When you move the camera envision your main subject as being the center of a 360 degree circle. Moving your camera in a parallel line will work, but not as well as if you incorporated a small arc.

Get Ready to Wiggle

Transfer your photos and open them up in a your image editing program of choice (note you will need to be able to create and animate layers). I use Photoshop so my instructions will be a bit biased toward that software.

  • Create a two layer file composed of the two photos.
  • Change the opacity of the top layer to 60%.
  • Use the move tool to align the top image so that the main subject on the top matches as precisely as possible with the one on the bottom. Rotate the image if you need to.
  • Once the images are aligned set the opacity of both images to 100%.
  • Crop the image as needed. If the subject was quite distant consider cropping to get closer as this will enhance your wiggle effect.
  • Open the animation palette and choose “Make Frames from Layers”
  • Change the animation delay time to .2 seconds (experiment with this).
  • Choose “File, Save As” and you are done!

But I don’t have Photoshop!

All is not lost. There are also shareware and freeware options. There is a a free program available specifically made for creating stereoscopic content. Check out Stereo Photo Maker. It is available for both Mac and Windows.

Windows users, check out UnFREEz. Use your favorite image editing software as above (for example the freely available GIMP), export as GIFS, import the two files into UnFREEz, choose the “Loop Animation” option and experiment with the centiseconds setting – 12-25 is the general range to try. Click “Make Animated GIF” and you will have your wiggle video ready-to-go!

You now know how to make a 3D wiggle photo, but how about a video? Videos are made frame-by-frame basically following the method outlined above. Then each frame is laid out in a time-line in editing software such as Final Cut Pro or Avid to create the video itself. When I have time to experiment further with wiggle videos I will post further on this technique. Until then, keep wiggling and check out the great samples below.

This is an excellent wiggle music video. Inspirational!


Wiggle Stereoscopy really helps bring these photographs to life.

Joshua Heineman has taken vintage stereoscopic public domain photographs and turned them into wiggle art. These photos were originally created to be viewed with a stereoscope.


Gorgeous work by Jamie Martinez



Stunning splash by Jim Gasperini


Beautiful psychedelic work - artist unknown


Yay Burning Man!


Concert by Martinez - the entire crowd appears to be in motion... Notice that the slightly slower frame rate still gives great depth.



Jurassic Park Will go 3D in 2013


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