Friday, March 13, 2015

How to create a 3D parallax image on Depthy using Google Camera App

This is a tutorial for those who have the Google Camera App and want to know how to capture 3D parallax photos which you can turn into GIF files. First, you need to have Android Kitkat or Lollipop running on your device before you can download the Google Camera app on the Playstore.

How to Place your Subject for 3D Parallax

Subject matters so please choose your subject well. Make sure it is well lit. It doesn't matter if your subject is indoors or outdoors but you have to make sure it is able to capture an image without resorting to grainy high ISO or flash use.

For the 3D parallax image to render, you have to bear in mind the following:-

  • Shoot subjects where there is a depth contrast. This means your subject should have both foreground and background subjects to perceive distance in an image.
  • Choose only subjects that are medium distance (about 1 meter or 3 feet) from you. Do not take scenic images as this won't render in 3D.
  • Subject should be brightly lit, as low light makes it difficult to render depth in a 3D image.
When in the Google Camera App, make sure you choose Lens Blur as the shooting mode. This can be found on the settings drawer which is pulled out from the left hand side of the screen.

Capture and Rendering

The best placement for your subject is still in the center, but off center is ok provided it is in landscape mode. Now once you have captured the image, the camera app will then tell you to move horizontally or vertically depending on your camera oreintation.

This step is crucial as you need to keep your subject in view. If you do it too fast, the camera will not render the depth map, moving it slowly is best.

If you do it wrongly, you have to go through the whole capture process all over gain.

Upload your Image and Render in 3D Parallax

The last step can be done via your Internet Browser on your mobile phone. Just go to,, hit the Open Photo button and select 'Documents'. This will bring up the screen for you to upload that photo you just took.

Why choose Select Document? Well apparently the browser only allows these and opens up more choices for you once you do this.

Once you have this option open, you can select a depth mapped photo shot earlier from your Gallery app or any photo app for that matter.

Now the final step is to upload your chosen photo, and you have to do this while online. Your photo will then be uploaded and rendered on the depthy site. If you upload an image WITHOUT a depth map, it will warn you "This Image is Flat as a Pancake".

For the best jiggly 3D parallax photo, always choose GIF. I know that sounds limiting but you can also create video, if you so wish as platforms like Facebook do not support GIF files. You can also generate anaglyph 3D if you so wish but sharing those files is often limited to fans found in Flickr. To appreciate an anaglyph image, you need to have on yourself a Cyan/Magenta glasses, it's the old school 3D effect from the 70s that was all the rage. So unless you have one of those lying around the house, I suggest you omit this option.

The customize setting allows you to vary the speed of the image movement. You have a choice of having it small, standard and large. A warning about large, it is BIG. This image became a 4MB image once generated in large setting. Hit the image and download the file to your device.

Where can you share these GIFs?

For the time being only Tumblr, G+ and Twitter allows for such files. Facebook allows you to playback video files generated by Depthy but beyond that, you're better off using a link on FB from a Tumblr posting.

Ok, so now you know how to do it. You can now stop bugging me about the tutorial now that it's out. So knock yourself out!


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