We have spent a year working out the best way to produce Retro-View reels. The actual digital image to photographic image process was the easy part – we have been doing that for well over 20 years. Trickier were issues of image alignment and reel assembly, and what we have ended up with took aspects of the original mass-produced reels of old that is scaled down to low volume production.
2D or 3D?
Technically it makes no difference to us. All reels, as standard, have seven images (and this can’t be changed). However, if you want the reels to view as 3D (stereo) in the viewer, then you must supply 3D images. Of course, ordinary photos look great, but they just don’t view as 3D.
- The format of viewer images is landscape only, upright images won’t work well unless severely cropped.
- The final images on these reels are very small – just 11.5mm x 10mm – and work best with bold and colourful photos.
Reels have seven images. At first glance it may seem that our Retro-View (View-Master compatible) reels have many more than seven images but remember that the viewers are binocular and each eye requires its own image to create the 3D illusion. Hence the 14 image windows.
However, almost all of the reels we supply are created from 2D images, therefore the image is simply printed twice – one for the left eye, one for the right. No 3D illusion, but 2D images look fab anyway.
In fact View-Master reels have always had seven images, since the system was created in the 1930s. And people do ask, but it is impossible to have more than seven images on a reel. Seven images and only seven images – that’s the rule.
If you are a Photoshop wizard then you can prepare your images to the correct size: 1240px wide x 1125px high @ 300dpi. You might find this template handy for image preparation: Retro-View template
Our Retro-View reels have images that are a very square-ish rectangle in landscape orientation. This can’t be varied, it is part and parcel of the venerable View-Master system.
Therefore, care should be taken when choosing your images. While it is possible to use other shaped images without cropping, they don’t look great as they don’t make best use of the very small image space.
If you can find your way around Photoshop then you are welcome to pre-prepare your own images (details lower down on this page). Otherwise, we will, by default intelligently crop your images to fit the Retro-View format.
Here below are some examples of what sort of images work and don’t work.
How do I make 3D images?
There are three ways:
- Shoot your photos with a 3D camera, such as the Fujifilm W3: Finepix Real3d W3
- Shoot your photos with any digital camera (or even smartphone) using either the ‘sliding rig’ method or the ‘side step’ method or the ‘beamsplitter’ method and use software to create the image pair.
- Using Photoshop methods to create pseudo-3D effects.
All of the three above methods require some knowledge and thought. Of the three, a 3D camera is by far the easiest – the Finepix W3 camera even has a 3D screen on the back so you can see the effect as you shoot. Methods outlined in the second category aren’t difficult but require experimentation. Some specialist and clever (if not immediately intuitive) software called StereoPhotoMaker can help a good deal. The third method requires both good Photoshop skills and a good understanding of what 3D is and how the brain interprets a pair of images and gives the illusion of depth. Some research on the internet will pay dividends and there are helpful YouTube video guides out there.
Our Retro-Reels are guaranteed to work in the viewers we sell, and should be fine in any “View-Master” branded viewer of the past 50 years. We can’t guarantee they will be fully compatible with other brands of miscellaneous viewers. If you buy an old View-Master viewer then we recommend you strip it down and clean it internally: debris and grease can collect on the working parts and impair reel movement and who knows what the original young owners stuffed inside!
You can also order customised reel and sleeve graphics – ideal for commercial giveaways and promotions and product launches – more information here: Customised reel graphics