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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An experimental 3D-animation from my image of IC 1396

I have tested a new method to publish my 3D-images as a form of Lenticular prints.
For this technique to work, I need series of images from different angles, in this case 24 images are needed. 
Lenticular printing is actually an old technique but in past few years it has become much more sophisticated.
The results can be stunning visually, image plane disappears and object floats in and outside of the frame.

Since astronomical objects are too far away, no real parallax can be imaged. Doe to that, I have developed a method to turn my images to various 3D-formats. My work flow is based on scientific data from the object, distance and the source of ionization are usually known. The different types of the nebulae has typical structures, pillar like formations must point to the source of ionization, the radiation pressure forms kind of hollow area, inside of the nebula, around newly born stars, dark nebulae must be at front of the emission ones to show, etc... rest of the missing information is then replaced with an artistic vision.
The whole process is pretty much like sculpting! 

An image set of IC 1396, used for a lenticular print, as an animation. 
(More of my experimental 3D-images under a folder "Volumetric 3D images" in my Portfolio )

Please, wait for few moments for animation to load, the size is ~7MB
The animation shows, IC 1396, a largish ionization zone in Cepheus.


The astronomer Phil Plait collected an annual list of the best astronomical images for the year 2012.
This experimental image of IC 1396 was selected as one of them.

The Best Astronomy Images of 2012 
by an astronomer Phil Plait

My image is a sixth from the top.

Original image with details can be seen here:
Buy a photographic print from HERE

Here is an image series showing the apparent scale of the IC 1396 in the sky:

All of my images can be seen in my portfolio:
(More of my experimental 3D-images under a folder "Volumetric 3D images")

I turned the original 2D-image to 3D by using a surface modeling software (TrueSpace).
Image is first divided to layers by its content, each layer is then projected to a 3D-surface.
To have good and realistic forms, I did use an other software, Bmp2CNC, it converts the shades in the image to a 3D-form. I have semi automated the whole process, it'll takes about 20 min. to make a 3D model like in this example is used.

A screen shot from the TrueSpace modeling software.
This kind of model gives much more freedoms to animate, than is used in this example.
A series of 24 images, with about one degree increments, are needed for the lenticular 3D print.


LV said...


Unknown said...

Oh man I've been trying to do this as a 2.5D using the Horse Head Nebula in After Effects, I think I'm going to have to breakdown and Use Nuke, and split up the imagery more.I'm only working from one image so I have to use a little create license to create the planes. I just want to create a small amount of parallax. Very neat though, I love to do space images for fun!

Guillermo Abramson said...

Beautiful! thanks for showing it!

Hugo said...

J-P - that is one of the most stunning images I have ever seen of a nebula. Well done - and thanks for sharing it.

ANDY said...

What is the approximate light-year distance between the left and right perspective?

J-P Metsavainio said...

Thanks for the comments!

Andy, the distance of this emission area is ~3000 light years and diameter about 100 light years.

In my animated image, there is about 24 degrees angle between first and last frames. 24 frames are used for animation, with one degree increments.

To have a one degree parallax, you need to travel about 50 light years.

Wayne Young said...

Amazing animation! I created an anaglyph movie from the gif file and the 3D effect is stunning. I've not posted it anywhere in respect for your copyright. With your permission, I'd like to up-loaded it to YouTube so you can take a look. Would that be OK? Or maybe you have already created an anaglyph movie yourself?

J-P Metsavainio said...

Hi Wayne,

Yes, you can upload it, I'm interested to see it.

I have done lots of anaglyph images from my astroimages. Here is a colletion of my work, including some still motion movies.

I have some animated anaglyphs too but haven't publish them. Generally anaglyph images have very small audience.

Timmyson said...

Really amazing. I'd like to post this on my blog. Would you mind if I posted this image directly (with a link to this page)? I don't have a good way to host the image otherwise.

J-P Metsavainio said...


You are welcome to post my image, thanks for asking!

Please, use Copyright J-P Metsavainio and link to the original source with the image.

Anonymous said...

Found your image via this Slate article. Absolutely amazing. Thanks for creating it.

Jake Walters said...

I'm creating graphics for a game. I wish that there was an easier way to create CG. It's not only doing artwork, but concepts & software and animation, & so on! Anyway, I really like all of the helpful art info on this post.

Keep up the excellent work.

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Juri said...

Mind blown here!

Unknown said...


I find you picture espectacular!!

I'd like to share it un a post. Would mind if I share it?


J-P Metsavainio said...

It's OK to share any of my posts as long as the link to the original source and credits are mentioned.