The Bowtie uses a special mirror array to capture three images at once, stopping time. The resulting 3D animated GIFs are commonly known as wiggles... let's WIGGLE!
I have always been interested in 3D photography, but when I saw my first wiggle a couple years ago, I became obsessed. I was very familiar with Stereo 3D, but these were different! I needed to find out how they were made.
I made dozens of Wiggles over the holidays of 2011: processing the 35mm negatives, scanning them and carefully compiling the animations in Photoshop. Great results, but it was a huge time suck. By January of 2012, I was convinced that there needed to be a digital solution, along with an App to streamline the animation process.
A Bowtie Is Born
The Bowtie is made for fun. It is a quick and easy way to make and share multi-image 3D photography.
I am not an engineer and I don't have factory connections in China. Whatever this was going to be, I wanted it to be non-mechanical, non-electrical, and something I could more or less build myself locally.
...And It Works!
Hardware: The Bowtie is optimized for the camera on the iPhone 4s, and 5. Our next Model, the v.5, has essentially the same mirror array but with thinner mirrors. This will give the captured images more real estate on the iPhone's sensor, effectively increasing the resolution a bit. The biggest change will come in the form of a new housing design, as seen below. The v.4 prototype was essentially a test platform from which we could easily adjust the mirrors, it needed to be bulky and boxy. The v.5 housing will snugly and sleekly fit that same mirror array, turning the box into a Bowtie.
The production model Bowtie will be made with the plastic injection molding process and I hope to use either recycled source plastic, or even bio-plastic. To me, there doesnt seem to be any good reason not to have the Bowtie made in the USA from 100% recycled or bio- plastic. My special mirror guy is in the States too.
Software: I designed the "Wiglrr" App to be as streamlined and focused on function as possible, that being said I want it to look nice, and feel right too. Version 1 will include a unique camera interface, special post processing on the images, and "wiggle" animation controls. From there you will be able to save and share your wiggles, or simply use the App as a wiggle gif viewer. If funding goes well beyond the goal, you can expect some very exciting extra features.
My contributions on the App so far have been original concept, UI design, and determining the post processing functions and outlining their parameters. I will be directing my team of experienced and talented App developers to focus on creating an intuitive, easy to use app that creates the best wiggles possible from the Bowtie.
Production Plan: All along, I've wanted to keep the production process as simple and as manageable as possible. This is probably the biggest reason I want to do it in my garage or in a rented shop space here in Alameda, California... and unless I get more than a few thousand orders, this is totally possible.
Here are the steps:
*Finalize the design on the production model (v.5). I will purchase or rent a 3D printer to help in this step.
*Have the Aluminum Mold made, and purchase a Benchtop Injection Mold press, (for small runs). Order materials: plastic pellets and mirrors, small cardboard boxes for shipping.
*Finish work on the v.1 Wiglrr App and get it approved on the App store.
*Assemble a couple thousand Bowties and ship them out. This should take me a solid month, but I will ship them in stages as they are finished. Hopefully everybody will have theirs by mid October or mid November.
If funding goes wildly beyond my expectations, I will contract a local fabricator to mass produce the plastic parts and hire a few folks to help out in the assembly. This would also improve the App, affording us time to work on extra features and refine the existing ones.
My Wife and Children whose patience for Bowties, 3D photography and wiggles knows no bounds... right?
Paul Bertino helped with the early designs and functionality and assembled our first (v.4) working prototype, (which was broken in the making of this video)!
Fran Herman generously gave me her valued advice and counsel when I was first putting this project together.
Victor Murillo took time out of his wedding planning to shoot our amazing looking campaign video.
Christian Zamora and Bad Bad let Victor and I commandeer their practice session for the video and had to endure my painful stumblings and extra takes, all while standing perfectly still.
Jerrold Connors patiently held my hand through the rigorous review process. Thank you sir, I will return your hanky when the laundry is done.
Thank you everyone,
Risks and challenges
While I have never tried my hand at manufacturing, I have made sure that my production chain is simple, safe, and affordable. The cost of the tools of production have come way down in recent years while their power and versatility have gone way up... allowing for this kind of project to exist.
I cannot guarantee you an exact shipping date, and if you're not happy with the quality of the wiggles on this page, then I cannot guarantee you'll be satisfied with the resulting wiggles from the production model, (although they will be moderately improved). The Bowtie and wiggle style animations aren't for everyone... it gives some folks headaches! If it is your thing, I have tried to make the Bowtie a low cost, entry level device with a fun and wondrous spirit.
"You had me at Wiggle. You lost me at iPhone." a friend said to me. I get it, and I feel your pain... always the last in line, never the bride, etc.
I kid. I love Android!
It turns out though that Android phones are trickier to work with for my project in particular. I am optimizing post process functions based on the degree of wide angle on the lens of the iPhone 4s and 5. There are simply too many lens variations for all the different Android phone models for us to try and tackle right out of the gate. We are working on making the attachment feature universal for phones of similar size and lens orientation to future-proof it a bit. Also, I have no issue with folks writing their own app interfaces for the Bowtie, so there could be some fun to be had there too.
Perhaps Version 2 of the app will support other phones/cameras!?
No. Facebook hates GIFs for some reason, I do not know why. Google + LOVES GIFs, and so does Tumblr and loads of other sites across the internet. We will likely have a page for your wiggles that you can then share a link to on FB, so its not that big a deal. Is it?
The Bowtie will cease to exist and many many children will mourn its absence. Their parents will petition their representatives to honor the memory of the Bowtie with a national holiday. The 3D and GIF communities around the world will have lost a major allie, and their movement may crumble.
1 Bowtie, set of 3 lenticular postcards, and your name on the guest list at a special rock show in San Francisco. Everyone on the list can bring their Bowtie and join us in making wiggles with the Bands. Bands include Bad Bad, The Khans, and Rad Cloud.