These design experts can convert still photographs into 3D pictures, writes T. SARAVANAN

Flip images and pictures with three-dimensional effect have the power to attract any viewer.Whether it is a photograph or feature film, fascination for three-dimensional pictures is unbound. Sometimes, watching a movie or seeing a still photograph with 3D effect through coloured filters, called anaglyph (specially designed to get the feel of the depth), may be a strain on the eyes. For, you are forced to look through the filters to become part of the happening. This experience is past. Now, you can feel the depth with your naked eye. Welcome to the world of virtual 3D reality, created by `antz' 3D lenticular systems, a Tiruchi-based company.

Stereoscopic image

"The 3D depth shows you a virtual reality by creating a stereoscopic image with perspective. . You almost feel as if you can reach in and grab it because of its utmost virtual reality," says E. Chitti Babu, the brain behind `antz.' It has been a 15-year-long struggle before this design expert struck the right chord after a series of experiments along with his able lieutenant V.M. Tamil Gnana Sambandan, also an expert in design making from Madurai.A diploma-holder in printing technology, Mr. Chitti Babu learnt the nuances of the art of printing in Sivakasi, which fuelled his ambition to learn more about different technologies in the world. His next learning assignment was in Singapore where he obtained a diploma in computer science. It was in Singapore that he came into contact with lenticular technology, which he shared with his friends at home. "It took years for me to understand the tricks of the trade. But I found that a number of companies involved in manufacturing lenticular sheets are less. Besides, the images printed on lenticular sheets producing 3D effect are too costly compared to Indian standards. Hence, I wanted to bring the technology to our country and do it at a cheaper cost," he informs and discloses his plan to train personnel in this technology.Their success is that they can convert any personalised still photograph into a 3D picture. They have customised a graphics software, which has worked wonders. The main advantage of the novel procedure is that even a single copy of a 3D picture can be taken. Initially, their target was signage industry. But, later, the duo wanted to popularise this technology among the public. Hence, they concentrate on photo laboratories, which are in direct contact with people.It is exhilarating to see how an ordinary still photograph taken during the famous Alanganallur bullfight, in which an angry bull ploughs through the crowd, transforms into a 3D picture. You can see the dust and the crowd behind it. You can feel the depth.

How it evolves

"Normally, our eyes focus on an object and anything beyond it or in front of it will be seen as blurred images, which may vary in measurements. We count on the blur and work it to our advantage. One has to have a clear understanding of photography with a good knowledge of on-field images. We separate the images on a normal still photograph layer by layer and then run the images using the software, which produces 12 different images with slight changes in angles. Then a colour print of the compiled image is taken. The print out may look like an `out-of-focus' picture. When it is laminated with lenticular sheet, what unfolds is a brilliant picture with 3D effect," Mr. Tamil, the technical assistant of `antz', explains. With more than five years of experience in developing lenticular technology with the help of a separate research and development wing, antz has now successfully launched a series of lenticular products. "With a digital camera and colour printer, anyone can easily and rapidly produce fantastic lenticular images from a personal computer. Of course, lenticular sheet is a must. If business community uses this technology for its bill boards, the reach is guaranteed," says Mr. Chitti Babu.

Willing to train people

"Though people can now easily buy the lenticular software, it is still very difficult to successfully produce perfect images without proper knowledge of this technology. In an attempt to develop this business and help people learn the technology with sufficient expertise, we are prepared to train personnel," he informs and invites people to get trained. They are also making sincere efforts to educate all technicians manning photo laboratories. Their long-term goal is to set up a lenticular sheet manufacturing unit in Tamil Nadu in collaboration with an international company. Now, the duo is all set to create a revolution in the industry. E. Chitti Babu can be contacted by dialling 98940 90234 and V.M. Tamil Gnana Sambandan is available on 94434 75476.