GoPro introduces the Dual HERO System for two Hero3+ Black Edition cameras to create 3D stereoscopic images and I get to take it to task in this review, shooting still image pairs and video clips.
The GoPro HERO Dual is a housing/sync accessory that allows you to connect two GoPro Hero3+ cameras together and control both simultaneously through the master camera or a WiFi app or remote.
This isn’t the first time GoPro has introduced this system – they had one for the Hero2 a few years ago and I wrote a review on that for PVC as well:
Introducing GoPro HERO Dual
The HERO Dual comes with a waterproof housing for two Hero3+ cameras, a skeleton back, the sync blocks/cable and two pairs of Red/Cyan *anaglyph glasses – along with additional mounting accessories. (Hero3+ cameras not included). Like its predecessor, the HERO Dual mounts the cameras inverted so the lenses are as close together as possible. *While I’m not sure about this decision to put the lenses closer together than an average pair of human eyes, which does affect the parallax and convergence of the subjects in the image, it does manage to work for the most part.
*UPDATE NOTE: Feedback from one of GoPro’s engineers is the distance was selected for action sports where the athelete or object in motion are in the foreground (i.e. surfers, motocross, etc.) but he has made an aftermarket option for setting the lenses farther apart for wider-parallax shooting such as aerial photography here on Shapeways.
Product Details from GoPro Website:
- Tandem housing holds two HERO3+ Black Edition cameras (sold separately)
- Capture full-resolution videos and photos simultaneously with uncompromised image quality
- Record synchronized 2D video or photos to convert to 3D using free GoPro Studio editing software
- Single interface control enables one camera to control the other’s modes and settings
- Waterproof to 197’/60m
- Integrated Mini USB port enables data offload, battery charging and live-feed video when used with the included Skeleton Backdoor
- Includes two sets of Curved + Flat Adhesive Mounts for mounting to your gear
- Includes two pairs of 3D anaglyph glasses for viewing your 3D content
- Compatible with most GoPro mounts
- Compatible with the GoPro App and Wi-Fi Remote (sold separately)
Still Image Tests
I did several tests in various situations and environments to see where the fall-off of the effect might happen with the ultra-wide-angle lenses set so close and as expected, most everything beyond 20-30 feet are almost flat.
Since the system merely sync-records two identical Hero3+ cameras with all the same image settings and frame rates, you still have to process both left and right images and video footage to create the stereo pair for viewing.
The GoPro app (Cineform) can process and edit the clips through their own proprietary system, but I found it a bit non-intuitive to use. *UPDATE NOTE: GoPro assures me that their software manages to not only automatically correct the vertical offest correction, but also rotation. I’ve since tried it but am having technical issues with the software on Mac OS 10.9.3 that I’m hoping to get resolved soon and will further update once it is.
I preferred to use Adobe After Effects CC instead and simply apply the 3D Glasses effect to the footage clips and choose what kind of output I want: Stereo Pair (Side by Side/Over Under) or different styles/colors of anaglyph. I chose the Color Balanced Red/Blue (red/cyan) option which gives the most natural results possible with anaglyph.
Here are a couple of output examples – you can either cross-view (cross eyes to see the “center” image in 3D) or use red/cyan glasses to view the Anaglyph version. If you don’t have red/cyan glasses, then you can go here and get a free sample pair sent to you: http://www.3dglassesonline.com/contact/free-sample-request
Stereo Anaglyph test (need red/cyan glasses):
Experimenting with Aerial Video
And of course – what good is a GoPro unless you push the limits with them?
So I took the synced Hero3+ cameras out of their Dual housing and foam taped them together mounted underneath my DJI Phantom Vision quadcopter and took it for a spin around the horse ranch we currently have our horse up in Chico, CA. While this certainly isn’t optimal for design/function, it did surprise me that the resulting video (in Anaglyph, below) came out as well as it did.
I may be doing some testing with some aftermarket lenses in the GoPros to see if that helps the FOC/convergence/parallax issues, but the distance between the two camera’s lenses will have to remain while mounted inside the housing. Stay tuned for further tests/results with this system. To learn more or to order the GoPro HERO Dual System, check out their website.
Jeff Foster is a published author of several how-to books and training videos in the motion graphics, animation and video production industries and is an award-winning video producer and artist. Visit his web site to learn more about his training methods, tips & tricks at PixelPainter.com