Capture like a pro (Part 4): Spin tips

Part 3 covered expert tips that apply to all four shapes of synths. This part gets to the nitty gritty on capturing spin and turntable synths. (New to capturing synths? Begin with Part 1.)

Before you start capturing for a spin, try to select some point that you will keep roughly in the center of your frame for every shot. Shooting with this in mind helps to make the viewing very smooth. This point could be as obvious and visible as the church steeple in the middle of the town square, but it doesn’t have to be a visible point at all. Think of it as the center of gravity of your spin, and try to keep your camera pointing toward it in all shots.

Living Room Spin by ps2demo1 

Shoot in landscape mode, and at a wide focal length. Shoot at least 20–30 photos, making sure to overlap your shots a lot. If you are trying to capture something with many holes, shoot 40 or more photos as you move around the object to reduce 3D artifacts. What do we mean by a lot of holes? One like the synth below. <embed something like Ai Wei Wei’s famous stools (that particular one seems to have been deleted)>

If you are able to shoot all the way around an object, be careful when completing the loop. Make sure you do not inadvertently spiral in or spiral out. The easiest way to ensure this is to put a marker on the ground where you shot the first frame, then make sure you shoot the last frame from the exact same spot.

Photographing an object on a turntable is a special case of a spin. The camera isn’t rotating around the scene; the scene is rotating in front of the camera. The rule of thumb for turntables is to make anything that doesn’t rotate disappear. In practice, this means that any nonrotating background needs to be as featureless as possible. As long as all the features that Photosynth sees are rotating, the results will be good.

In the below turntable spin, I placed a large piece of white cardboard underneath and behind the turntable, and overexposed the shots a little to reduce any natural variation in the cardboard. The highly textured linen cloth that the stones are resting on has many features, but this cloth is rotating as part of the scene, so it is helping Photosynth rather than confusing it.

Wrapped Stones, 41 frames by ps2demo1 

What’s Next?

Part 5 offers tips to capture wall synths.

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