Monday, October 2, 2017

Borealis burning bright

Aurora borealis over Inuvik

Wiggle Wiggle Woo


A long time ago, I don't know how many years ago it was, when I first started making gifs for my blog (which now seems like a very long time ago), there was a fad: 3D gifs (or GIFs, as they are usually called - I just use lower-case letters because "GIFs" is so bleepin' ugly). The 3D gifs were just what you see here - two very slightly different views of a scene which were rapidly wiggled back and forth to make them sort of look 3D. Technically it's a gif, but a very inadequate one because gifs usually express movement, and these look like the participants are either experiencing a mild earthquake, or sitting on jell-o.

The 3D effect is there, kind of eerily, not unlike the stereoscopic images from my Grandma's old viewer (and didn't YOUR Grandma have one of those, too?). These are a little more disquieting because they just won't stop moving. I'm not sure of the age of them, but it's well over 100 years, so that the pictures would likely be hand-tinted. As a matter of fact, it's very likely these gifs WERE made from those old stereopticon cards with the double image on them. I'm not sure what else they would use.

So what does this prove? Anything? I just analyzed one of them using my gif-making/editing program, and they each have exactly two frames. I don't know why the eye is fooled into thinking it's 3D, when it most decidedly isn't. 

Then people started making their own, and this sort of thing was popular for a while, though I guess you had to have the right equipment to take the pictures. This one has not two, but six frames, but is still limited by that incessant (pointless?) back-and-forth movement which makes the subject of the picture seem so utterly frozen.

I had to try slowing this one down. Not very exciting, is it? But it's typical of the kinds of images I was seeing back then. I remember all sorts of excited entries on web sites with a kind of "WOWWWWW!!!" tone to them: NOW YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN GIFS IN 3D! Even ready-made ones were considered the marvel of the age. Look! Oh wow! They're in 3D! Just like in the movies! All I could see was a lot of jellylike shaking.

Speeded up, you can see that everything seems to be moving in the picture except the main figure, who is just hanging there. The effect is more disquieting than ever.


Or. . . not.

This turned out to be a fad which fizzled very quickly, mainly because it just looks so DUMB and not really 3D at all, just annoying. All the images I've gathered here are from posts from 2011, so my guess is that 2011 was the height of the fever. 2011 now seems like approximately one billion years ago. Six years is a long time, and on the internet it is an eternity. 

I can't leave this topic alone until I present a couple of truly hideous historical ones I found. I don't know how these were made, but probably with a double-sided stereoscope image. I just wish they hadn't done it at all.

History comes alive.