What is a Facebook 3D photo?
A Facebook 3D photo captures the distance between the subject in the background and foreground, bringing images to life with movement and depth that can only be described as three dimensional. Don’t confused Facebook 3D photos with Facebook 360 photos, which are similar to a panoramic photo.
Facebook is expanding 3D photos to stories and offering two new ways to create them.
Facebook introduced 3D photos back in October which, until now, could only be shared in the regular news feed.
They can now be shared through Facebook Stories, although the upload process still begins at the news feed.
Stories with 3D photos function just like any other story. They’re available for 24-hours and users can see who has viewed, reacted to, and responded to the story.
To clarify, none of the photos in this article will show up to you, the reader, as 3D – as you’ll learn below, 3D adaptation is only available on certain mobile devices or VR headsets.
Facebook is also bringing the 3D photo creation process to computers. The process is more complicated on a computer, but it allows for more customization.
How do Facebook 3D photos work?
Facebook 3D photos use “depth maps” that are stored in Portrait photos to make the images come alive. The dual cameras available on certain phones create a foreground and background that form the depth map for an image. 3D photos change perspective when you tilt or scroll on your phone.
What equipment do I need to post a Facebook 3D photo?
- Two files: An image and a depth map, either in .png or .jpg format.
- Correct file names: The depth map must have _depthappended to the file name.
- Image sizes: Aspect ratios of the depth map and image must match, but they don’t need to be the same resolution.
It’s worth noting that though the vast majority of users will view Facebook 3D photos on their smartphones, it is possible to view them on the Oculus Go VR headset’s web browser, or Firefox on the Oculus Rift.
Additionally, in the coming weeks, Facebook will release 3D viewing capability to desktops as well, which will further open up the 3D photo viewing experience to those without Portrait mode on their mobile devices.
How to post your first Facebook 3D photo in 3 easy steps
- Take a photo in Portrait mode. You can do this by opening the camera app on your phone, then clicking the “Portrait” capability as illustrated below. You may get some on-screen commands such as “move closer to the object” or “move further from the object.” You’ll know the image is in Portrait mode when the background has naturally faded away and the image is in focus.
- Open the Facebook mobile app and create a new post. From the list of post options (Photo, Video, Tag Friends, Check In, 360 Photo and more) click 3D Photo.
- Choose from the Portraits folder and hit publish!
Facebook 3D photo best practices
It’s easy to spice up your newsfeed on your personal or Facebook business page with a 3D photo – it certainly stands out from most other posts you’ll see on your timeline. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when posting.
Contrasting colors stand out more in Facebook 3D photos – for example, a woman wearing a red shirt in front of a red wall won’t stand out as much as if she was wearing a green shirt in front of the red wall.
Because of the depth maps used, it’s important to think about not only the foreground of the photo but also the background. Make it interesting and try and put your main subject within three or four feet of the camera – such as a dog in front of a stone wall. This creates visual interest on several levels.
Through trial and error, you’ll find that some materials and objects make better 3D photos than others. A good rule of thumb is to try and avoid anything that is shiny or fluid – the best 3D photos on Facebook have subjects with texture, solid edges and are matte (not shiny). Transparent objects can sometimes skew the depth sensors, so avoid things made of clear plastic or glass.
As users – and soon, brands – begin to adapt to seeing and posting 3D photos on Facebook, it will be interesting to see how they’re integrated into social media marketing strategies. I can envision a future where Facebook 3D photos are used to bring a new element to online selling.
In the meantime, get used to seeing images in a brand-new way on social media, as Facebook 3D photos are set to take the network by storm.
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