Super Simple Effect Makes Regular GIFs or Photos Seem Three Dimensional


Actual 3D footage can be a pain, both to capture and to watch, which is why we fell in love with this super simple technique when we ran across it. It turns out, all you have to do to turn a normal photo or animated GIF into a 3D experience is add a couple of white bars…

If it seems like there’s more going on here, trust us when we say that there isn’t. For each of the GIFs below (the effect is more pronounced in a GIF than a regular photo) all the creators did was insert two white bars into the series of images.

When the subject of the GIF launches a projectile or reaches for something towards the viewer, that part of the image is allowed to cover up the white bar, and your brain immediately makes you feel like you’re watching something three-dimensional.

Here are a few examples of this technique in action:

Obviously real 3D is more effective, and we’re not suggesting that James Cameron use this technique when he shoots the next big three-dimensional blockbuster, but for a quick and easy edit, it creates pretty dramatic results… especially if focus is used to enhance the effect.

Plus, if you add a bit of text and further visual trickery, the effect can become even more pronounced:

To see a ton more of these GIFs, head over to Tumblr and just search the ‘#3d gifs’ tag. And if you set out to create a few of your own, don’t forget to drop a link in the comments for us!

(via My Modern Met via Digital Trends)

  • stavrography

    cough, tumblr, cough

  • Joey Duncan

    kinda neat!

  • kandy830

    my Aunty Sienna recently got a year old Jaguar only from
    working off a home computer… Recommended Reading F­i­s­c­a­l­M­a­z­e­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Toby Hawkins

    Can we see some of the gif’s without the white bars? Not overly convinced this adds anything.

  • Chris


  • Tim

    Ignore him it’s a troll…

  • Spongebob Nopants

    It’s fun but it’s not really 3d. It is a representation of depth, not a simulation. It does not create an experience of seeing a 3d image.
    And remember – the source materials are ALREADY representing that depth in traditional 2d photographic/cinematic methods of creating the illusion of depth in imagery. Using selective focus, movement and lighting.
    The bars only make us notice the depth that’s already being depicted by the highly skilled craftsmen.

  • Matt

    The puppy one does not fit that discription. I’d like to see both versions, but it does seem at first glance to add something.

  • cryofly

    Brilliant but who wants to watch the show from inside a jailhouse.

  • Toby Hawkins

    A valid opinion that doesn’t coincide with yours is trolling?

  • Toby Hawkins

    Yeah, I mean sure they look a little 3d, but then so do 2d movies, and obviously the effect isn’t as pronounced as a genuine 3d movie (can’t see anyone disagreeing with this?), so I’m wondering if the bar’s actually add anything. Hence; would be interested in seeing the original’s alongside.

  • Toby Hawkins

    Perhaps, although it only really gets ‘3d’ when it unexpectedly jumps out of the image and over the text, along with its shadow.

  • MEEfO

    No troll here. I thought the same thing. It’s just how my brain processes information. I’ve seen gifs of a couple of these sans-white bars–the Ice Age one in particular–and the effect on its own is pretty dramatic.

  • dan110024

    I think a few of you are missing the point. It’s not meant to be practical. It’s more just an interesting play on manipulating our depth perception. For me, it works well. I like it. There will be some people who it won’t work on.

  • dan110024

    Well, of course it’s not going to be as good as a 3D film/picture. I think this works well for what it is. It’s natural for your brain to perceive the object popping out of the screen if it passes in front of a bar designed to look like it’s part of the page that it’s being viewed on. If you’re actually thinking about what’s happening here, then of course the effect will be reduced. Way to go, fun police :p

  • pixeljammer

    Seems like the same old trick they’ve been using on every magazine cover since the dawn of magazine covers. Put the lady IN FRONT of the text! It will add depth! How is this news? Have none of these people ever drawn anything in perspective?

  • 3ric15

    lol, be warned of NSFW if you go search on tumblr for 3d gifs.

  • Carmen Egipto Bouhid
  • Elle

    For starters, this has nothing to do with 3D at all, and the two bars (10px width each in a 500px width picture, yes?) are representing the default space between the three-in-a-row configuration on a Tumblr photo post. It’s about an element escaping the structure, and yes, it adds depth, and also yes, it looks 3D-ish, but you will not see it anywhere else except Tumblr, unless someone takes a Tumblr gif and posts it elsewhere, like here for example. Because the two white bars don’t make sense in any other context.

  • Satish

    I agree.. to appreciate the difference you need the originals that dont happen to look 3D

  • Neal Kernohan

    In photography (or still image) one uses DoF to create a 3D visual space, typically combined with the use of known objects to help scale the space and apply perspective. Or the opposite to trick the viewer using forced perspective. Moving images don’t have to do this unless the movement is in a blank space. The fact that one can see objects become larger and smaller on screen while their position relative to other objects is in motion, tricks our brains to believe the object is moving within a 3D space. It’s not necessary to put bars on the screen to create a 4th wall, they look out of place and only prove that the 3D model in our mind is created from the interaction with objects on set. One could paste a couple of red fire-hydrants in the scene and have the action move in-front and behind them and it would show the same thing. There are already objects in the scene that create perspective. Objects that are in context. There are planes and objects there that the moving object moves relative to, why create an ugly image by inserting two more objects that have no place there?

  • Sky

    And these do look 3D? No more than any other animated gif made of a scene from a movie.

  • Sky

    Oh… that might be why I can’t see anything special in these images – I’m just not a Tumblr user.

    I guess you need to register there and use it few times a day to see any 3D effect on these GIFs ;)

  • James

    thank you!