Photographer Turns Drone Shot Into a Facebook 3D Photo

Facebook’s new 3D Photos feature is designed for photos captured using the depth map-based Portrait mode in the latest smartphones. Photographer Oat Vaiyaboon went beyond smartphones and turned a DJI Mavic Pro drone photo into a Facebook 3D Photo by creating his own depth map.

“I thought I would try creating my very own custom depth map in PS and then edit the image together with Depth Camera on iOS,” writes Vaiyaboon, who goes by hangingpixels online. “Each component (layers) needs to be selected and converted to greyscale individually with varying opacity using alpha channels – foreground is 100% black, mid ground is 80% grey, formation is 60% grey, etc.

“This depth map has 10 distinct greys – lower cliff, mid cliff, rock wall, ground behind the wall, me, rock in the middle, rock in the back and 3 level of water (ridges, normal and trough).”

After creating the depth map in Photoshop, Vaiyaboon runs the original photo and the depth map through an iOS depth map editor called Depth Cam to create a single JPEG file that contains depth metadata.

When that photo is uploaded to Facebook, the 3D Photos feature interprets it as a standard Portrait mode style photo and makes it interactively viewable.

Here’s the aerial 3D photo that resulted (try interacting with it to view it with a 3D effect):

The above process is tedious: it takes Vaiyaboon about an hour to create and refine the depth map for each photo.