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A New Look on an Old Media Format

The New York Public Library Labs  has developed an interesting tool for transforming historical stereographs from The New York Public Library and other participating organizations into shareable 3D web formats called the Stereogranimator.


The site posts stereographs which you can then choose from (pick one at random or search by a keyword). Its best to choose one that will give the best contrast, lighting and layout in terms of a stereo view.


The website came to be from a project by Joshua Heineman, Reaching for the Out of Reach, was built using the library’s archive. From this, the project came to be through an innovative partnership.

Here is the one I built. I find it so interesting to use a 19th century photo technique and technology in a 21st century fashion. The output can be in 3D format as well. This one is late 1880s Boston and took about 10 minutes to get to where I wanted it to be. It is a little more challenging than one might expect, especially if you choose the wrong photo.

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index

Starting in the late the 19th Century, stereoscopic images allowed one to experience a travelogue in a sense. As it was prohibitively expensive and time consuming to travel even short distances, people could now experience places,  learn about geography, science, history, and other subjects. Lately the idea has made a comeback, particularily with NASA’s Mars Rover Missions.