Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why 3-D? Just because it could be fun

We live in a very serious world. That makes for some very serious content.

So, excuse us, but how about taking a break this Sunday and putting on some silly-looking glasses?

I’m talking about the 3-D glasses inside the Sunday Observer (Oct. 10th edition). They are tucked inside a special 3-D section, called “Comin’ at You,” that pays tribute to Charlotte’s Race Week.

We created this section just for fun. It also happens to feature some of the most compelling photography the Observer has shot at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Our sports and photo staffs sifted through hundreds of great racing moments from our archives for shots of legendary drivers, faithful fans, grinding competition on the track and furious action in the pits.

This is our first experience working with 3-D images. In choosing photos, our director of photography, Bert Fox, says he looked specifically for depth, action and simplicity.

“As 3-D images, foreground objects come at you and background objects fall off,” Fox says.

Fox and the Observer’s advertising creative manager, Chuck Cole, worked with an outside firm to transform the existing photos into 3-D images (a process explained in the section on page 18Z).

If you’ve watched a 3-D movie, you know that the effect is more obvious in some scenes than in others. The same is true in print. On top of that, the experience will vary from person to person.

“Any nuance specific to your eyes can affect how well you see a particular photo,” Cole says. “And color-blindness may prevent you from seeing (3-D) because of we use a specific red and a specific blue to create the 3-D effect.”

Color is also why you are likely to see a more dramatic effect when you use your glasses to view the same photos on Most computer monitors are set to emit a much heavier saturation of color.

While they are paper, we figure these funky glasses are good for at least a few more days of fun. So, hang onto your glasses to view a 3-D photo we’ll publish in each day’s newspaper and online this week. These photos will feature scenes of Charlotte and the surrounding region.

Now, for those of you with a smartphone (such as an iPhone, Droid or Evo), I have one more experiment at hand.

With my column in the newspaper, you’ll notice something called a QR code. It looks somewhat like the bar code on products you buy. The QR stands for “quick response.”

To use this code, you must first download a free application that enables your phone to scan it. (Just search for “QR” in your phone’s online app store.)

Then, when you use your camera to scan the code, it should link you automatically to a slideshow of these 3-D images online.

Of course, you can also just type into your phone or computer.

But we’re intrigued with the potential uses of the QR code as a bridge between your printed newspaper and the Observer’s digital content.

If you try it, we’d like to know how it worked for you. We’d also like your ideas for how this technology might be used to benefit you as an Observer reader.

Reach Rick Thames at,, and 704-358-5001. You can also ask him a question at


Anonymous said...

I bet that sinkhole in 3-D would have been scary!

Anonymous said...

I have yet to find the glasses in today's Observer. Been through 3.6 lbs of inserts, cannot find 'em

Rick Thames said...

For home delivery customers who call our customer service line during Sunday, we will deliver glasses as early as Monday. They will also be available at the Observer on Monday. Come to the lobby at 600 S. Tryon Street between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Anonymous said...

Liked the photos in the paper but I thought I could see more photos on the computer.

Anonymous said...

I saw the photos with the glasses, and my newspaper was horrible. It actually looked better without the glasses.

Anonymous said...

I accidentally clicked ok before I was done. I applaud CO for trying something different, but my particular version of the 3D newspaper wasn't good at all. It looked like the ink ran a little before drying. The glasses only made it slightly in focus, but not 3D. Oh, well, better luck next time.

Anonymous said...

I'm out of town this week, but I was told we didn't get the glasses at home either. A shame to have seen all the hype and not be able to enjoy the fun.