Incredible Editing Technique Lets You Turn 2D Objects in a Photo Into 3D Objects You Can Manipulate

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are blowing minds with a new image editing method that allows you to transform a 2D object in a photo into a 3D model that you can then move around and manipulate however you’d like.

Spin it, flip it, twist it, basically anything the game Bop It used to let you do, you can do to this newly-rendered 3D object (well… except bop it… but I’m sure they’re working on that).

Demonstrated in the video above and explained in more depth in the video below, the technique uses readily available 3D models online to convert day-to-day objects in a photo from two to three dimensions.

Then, thanks to the data pulled off the Internet, you can manipulate the object even if it shows parts of it that were not originally visible in the photograph while the software maintains “plausible shadows and illumination.”

According to the paper — which you can read in its entirety here if you so desire — the point was to take image editing beyond what even the most powerful 2D editing programs (read: Photoshop) could do. From the abstract:

We demonstrate our system by producing object manipulations that would be impossible in traditional 2D photo-editing programs, such as turning a car over, making a paper-crane flap its wings, or manipulating airplanes in a historical photograph to change its story.


Check out the videos above to see the technique in action, head over to the CMU press release to read up on how it all works in simpler terms than the full paper linked above, and then drop us a line in the comments to let us know what you think.

(via Engadget)

  • Ondrej Vranka

    Wonder how they rig, skin and animate the models… I wonder also how they match the camera and lighting…

  • Andre Lucas

    I wouldnt call ‘buying a licence and downloading a 3d model’ an incredable editing technique… I can see no evidence that these 3D elements where ever 2D or part of the origonal image

  • Richard Horsfield

    Blimey… very clever!

  • andydv

    Agreed, The way they used a 3D model that was identical to the real red chair is very misleading. This software does not appear to “allow you to transform a 2D object in a photo into a 3D model that you can then move around and manipulate however you’d like.” It’s not creating 3D information that isn’t there…the imported model is doing that. Appears to just be automating the lighting / GI based on surrounding pixels (which is still pretty cool but far from “mind blowing”)

  • Mike

    How is this new?

  • slyman

    i was thinking i’d seen something like this before and they talk about something from 2012 so maybe that was it.

    anyway, the future of “shopped”

  • Michael Della Polla

    I work at a retouching house and people often forget that behind that car or piece of paper… IS NOTHINGNESS!! that area behind has to be created from clone stamping or other image plates.. The software isnt just going to invent background behind your moving parts..

    I feel like i’m being negative but minimal anything software-wise has happened since cs4….