Got an iPhone? Soon It Can Be Your 3D Camera and Viewer!

LOS ANGELES—Ever run ito a weird guy on the set who offered to take your picture with a 3D camera? That was probably me, who's been taking on-the-set 3D pictures for more than 15 years, first on film and more recently with a digital camera—and many adult stars have been the recipients of 3D slides that they can see with a viewer (also provided), or CDs of their 3D images that they can look at on their computer or 3D TV. And when shown to them, most of those stars have been fascinated by the fact that they can see 3D images of themselves on the digital camera's 3D viewing screen.

But breakthroughs in the use of the third dimension in photographs and movies are few and far between. One need only look at the roughly 50-year gap between the popularity in the early-to-mid 1950s of 3D ("stereo") cameras using 35mm film—for example, more than 400,000 Stereo Realist cameras were produced in that time period, and at least five other manufacturers produced similar models—and the advent of the first digital 3D camera, the Fujifilm Finepix Real 3D W1, released just four years ago. And while the early '50s were also a heyday of 3D movies, including such popular classics like Dial M For Murder, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Kiss Me Kate and Hondo, all of which most folks have only seen in 2D, and while several 3D productions in the '90s were made exclusively for Imax Theaters, it took until the early 2000s and the development of digital projection systems for 3D to take off once again in theaters across the country.

But now the Poppy, a new project which made its debut on Kickstarter last week, promises to bring 3D to the masses once again (or at least, the masses that own iPhones), and 3D enthusiasts around the world have already ponied up more than three times the project's original $40,000 goal in order to own one of the project's first production models.

The principle of the Poppy is simple: Just insert an iPhone in the slot, which can be adjusted for iPhones 4, 4S and 5, and you're ready to shoot. What happens is, the Poppy places the iPhone's camera in front of a beamsplitter, and this allows the phone to capture two nearly identical images fed to it by a pair of mirrors angled to allow whatever the Poppy is pointed at to record what's called a "stereo pair" on the iPhone. Even better, once the two-image photo is in the iPhone's memory, it can be seen in 3D just by looking through the Poppy's lenses—just like using the Viewmaster reels most of us remember from when we were kids.

And to make things easier, the inventors of the Poppy will also be releasing a dedicated iOS app which will allow users to easily navigate and control their phone when used in the Poppy.

But the 3D possibilities of the Poppy are nearly endless. For instance, just like any iPhone photo, images can be traded with other iPhone owners, who can view them in 3D if they also own a Poppy, or the images can be edited by the use of free software like Stereophoto Maker, which can turn the image into one that will play on a 3D TV or computer monitor, or into an "anaglyph" which can be printed out or viewed in 3D on a computer screen by the use of red-and-blue glasses. Stars can have their webmasters upload the images to their websites for viewing in a variety of formats.

Got a pair of 36DDs? Now your fans can see them "up close and personal." And talk about POV blowjobs and the like!

Oh; did I forget to mention that the Poppy can also record 3D videos on your iPhone? Those can be edited with another free program, Stereomovie Maker, and used in many of the same ways a 3D photo can be used. (Though Stereophoto Maker and Stereomovie Maker are PC-native applications, they can easily be run on Macintoshes using a PC emulator program like Parallels or this freeware.)

Anyway, there's lots more information about the Poppy on its Kickstarter page—including the fact that if they get enough requests, they'll retool some production models from use with other smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S4—and though the first production units won't be shipped until November or December, 3D fans are already eager to get one and try it out.

And it couldn't hurt to note that if you're in Los Angeles (or can get there), there's going to be a 3D Film Festival in mid-September, details of which can be found here. And you can see a 3D trailer for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who here.