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3D workflow

3D workflow
Shoot, preview and publish stop motion in 3D using Stop Motion Pro, a stepper unit and Sony Vegas video editing software.


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The clip above  was shot in stereo using Stop Motion Pro running a Canon DSLR on a Mark Roberts Stereoscopic stepper.  We have published the shot on YouTube which converts the parallel image above into over a dozen different 3D viewing formats. You can see the 3D effect above by going cross eyed - or better still, use some side-by-side viewing glasses.


This page gives an overview of a low cost 3D capture and post production workflow.  We have used Sony Vegas 10 software to finish off our production and tweak the 3D for final delivery.

Calculating 3D interocular distances and how they relate to screen size and viewing comfort are well handled by the IOD calculator or the free for non commercial use spreadsheet from


Here's how we did it...  (step by step instructions are under the video)

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Connect Mark Roberts stepper rig  and Canon / Nikon live view DSLR.  Make sure they are both turned on before opening Stop Motion Pro.

Start a New Project in Stop Motion Pro Studio Plus edition.


Click on the Multiple Exposure tab

Start a new project


Number of exposures: 2

Pause between exposures: Automatic

Delay: 1 second

Use MR stepper: tick/check

Port: The COM port Depends on your system, you may have a couple appear, try each one. The little Z button confirms the stepper is connected and it is at the correct zero point.


In the Description column rows, give one name of "right"  and the other "left".


Select the TV (shutter speed) value as determined in the DOP tool. 

Modify how far the stepper unit moves between each exposure using the Step dist.  For our shot we set it to a 20.00 mm distance.


Click OK


You can always come and edit these settings later, via the menu Settings > Capture settings



Open the DOP tool using the side bar, or from the menu Tools > DOP control

open DOP tool

Check your focus and exposure.  Please check the full tutorial here if required.


Shoot your animation.  Note you use SMP completely normally, the 3D image aquisition is all automatic. The video at the end of this page shows this in detail.

DOP tool setting focus and exposure

While you are shooting you can always preview your 3D instantly in full color.  Use Tools > Preview player stereoscopic 3D side by side viewer to watch your 3D clip as you work.  You can even output to a second monitor!


Note: Make sure that you select the correct exposures to be displayed on each side. The exposure name corresponds to the name you gave each exposure in the Capture settings dialog.

When you want to export your animation, use the File > Make movie function. Exporting your finished shot

In the Make movie dialog, choose the right or left Exposure to export.  Do this for each exposure, so you have two output files.


The exposure name corresponds to the name you gave each exposure in the Capture settings dialog.

For simplicity, we exported AVI files.  Now we have two AVI files, which are ready for post production. 3d_smpsetup_dop8
Now, open Sony Vegas 10.  We used the free trial to test it out.  While we are showing 3D preparation, Sony Vegas is a fantastic suite of tools for compositing, basic grading and file converting - and editing, of course. open vegas 10
Set up Sony Vegas for your stereoscopic production  - select File > Properties Vegas project settings

Under the Video tab, select Side by side (full) from the  Stereoscopic 3D mode drop down.


You can see the other video settings we used for our project.  We have set it to a 16:9 24p HD format.

Vegas Project properties
Start a new project in Vegas, and use the Import media... button to locate the left and right clips you exported using Make movie in Stop Motion Pro 3d_vegas_import3

Press the Control key and click to select both the left and right clips. 


Right click and select Pair as Stereoscopic 3D Subclip


This creates a clip especially formatted for 3D editing in Vegas.

Vegas select and convert subclip
Drag and drop the new clip onto the timeline in Vegas. drag subclip into vegas timeline

The side by side pair are displayed together. 

See the black bars in the middle and edges of the clips - they are there because our DSLR shoots a 3:2 aspect ratio, yet our final project is 16:9.  In Vegas the default setting is to shrink the video to fit.

We want to crop our clips so they fill the screen.


To crop the top and bottom of the clips, click on the Event Pan/Crop button on the clip in the timeline.

We used the option 16:9 Widescreen TV aspect ratio.

This neatly cropped our clips to size.

aspect ratio fix
Now we can tweak our 3D settings.  Click on the video output effect button that is on the video clip in the timeline. 3d_vegas_stereoeffects_8

This is where you can create a stack of effects and grading options. 

We are going to select Sony Stereoscopic 3D Adjust.


There are many options here to explore, we found the Horizontal offset most useful. Rotation also produced some interesting effects.


We had our 3D viewing specs with us to check the result while we tweaked.


Now let's output the file for YouTube.


Select File > Render as


Choose the Custom button

Vegas render clip custom
Select the Project tab Vegas render custom project

Here you can output various formats.  You can see that there are many different options depending on what you are going to view your 3D content with. 

In our case, we stuck with the recommendations of YouTube which was side by side. 

YouTube then uses this single side by side file to create its own versions in the different 3D viewing formats.  This is great because it saves a lot of time for you to render.


Stop Motion Pro boxshot