A view behind the curtain of StereoPhoto Maker

Interview with Masuji Suto

written for the Stereosite by Pascal Martiné (Germany), with special thanks to Gordon Au (USA) and Vanessa Grein (Germany)

Since Stere­oscopy entered the dig­i­tal age things have tak­en a huge step for­ward. Before dig­i­tal imag­ing, mis­align­ment, image rival­ries, etc. made it very dif­fi­cult to take sequen­tial stere­os with film. Spe­cial equip­ment was nec­es­sary for every pho­tog­ra­ph­er who want­ed to enter the field of stereo pho­tog­ra­phy. Sequen­tial stereo pho­tos ben­e­fit­ed great­ly from dig­i­tal post-pro­cess­ing, and every mono cam­era sud­den­ly became a viable pos­si­bil­i­ty for tak­ing stereo images.

How­ev­er, for sequen­tial pairs, when com­pared to images made with pre-made stereo cam­eras,  align­ment and  the stereo win­dow were still major issues. StereoPho­to Mak­er, a soft­ware devel­oped by the Japan­ese stereo pho­tog­ra­ph­er Masu­ji Suto, made things a lot eas­i­er. This soft­ware includes Auto-selec­tion of the cor­re­spond­ing files, easy par­al­lax con­trol, synced crop­ping, etc. How­ev­er the most impor­tant fea­ture of all is the auto-align­ment algo­rithm! SPM has become the world stan­dard for com­bin­ing two indi­vid­ual images into a stereo pho­to. That counts even more since SPM sup­ports dif­fer­ent out­put for­mats such as par­al­lel, cross-eyed, anaglyph, and many more.

StereoPho­to Mak­er run­ning on a Mac

Again, things have changed as smart­phone cam­eras have devel­oped. The smart­phone is now a mul­ti-tool for stereo pho­tog­ra­phers. It’s a cam­era for sequen­tial or even simul­ta­ne­ous stereo pho­tos or videos; it’s a com­put­er that allows edit­ing your pho­tos right away; it’s a dis­play in a con­vinient size for free view­ing; and it allows you to share your pho­tos with oth­ers direct­ly online (read how to take and edit stereo pho­tos entire­ly on your smart­phone here). For­tu­nate­ly, Masu­ji Suto has sup­port­ed the stereo com­mu­ni­ty once more by incor­po­rat­ing the cen­tral fea­tures of SPM to the Smart­phone. His app 3DSteroid runs on Android, and i3DSteroid for iOS devices boosts the effi­cien­cy of stereo pho­tog­ra­phers of every age and lev­el using their smart­phones! Accord­ing to the tech­ni­cal devel­op­ments many dif­fer­ent apps have fol­lowed since. You can find an overview of all the apps and their fea­tures on Masuiji’s web­site.

i3DStereoid app on an iPhone

Believe it or not, he is not a pro­fes­sion­al soft­ware devel­op­er! Like most of us, Masu­ji is just pas­sion­ate about stere­oscopy and is hap­py to help the com­mu­ni­ty with his soft­ware devel­op­ing skills. Curi­ous about him? We met him for an inter­view which fol­lows below:

Masu­ji Suto

Stere­osite: First of all, thank you for the oppor­tu­ni­ty of this inter­view! The stereo com­mu­ni­ty is so lucky to have you: some­one with exper­tise in both 3D pho­tog­ra­phy as well as devel­op­ing pro­grams and apps. How did you get start­ed in each of these areas?

Suto: I start­ed pro­gram­ming around 1995, when ran­dom dot stere­ograms became pop­u­lar in Japan, and I was so impressed with them that I saw the BASIC source code for mak­ing ran­dom dot stere­ograms in a mag­a­zine and tried to run it. I found that I could do many things rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly with the pro­gram, and since then I have been self- learn­ing pro­gram­ming lit­tle by lit­tle by cre­at­ing var­i­ous pro­grams. I had known about the exis­tence of 3D pho­tog­ra­phy for a long time, but it was­n’t until around 2000, when I hap­pened to find an appli­ca­tion for cre­at­ing anaglyph pho­tos in a mag­a­zine, that I real­ized I could do it myself. That was the first time. Once I start­ed doing it myself, I found many things I want­ed to do, but I just could­n’t do it with the exist­ing appli­ca­tions, so I start­ed mak­ing Stereo Pho­to Maker.

Stere­osite: You said that you’ve found many things to explore. After the ran­dom dot stere­ograms and anaglyph stereo pho­tos, which were the most excit­ing steps on your per­son­al stereo jour­ney so far?

Suto: I was hap­py when I was able to cre­ate an algo­rithm for auto­mat­ic posi­tion­ing, and the most excit­ing part of work­ing in 3D was when I was able to get a great syn­chro­nized shot with David Sykes’ StereoDataMaker.

Stere­osite: Since you start­ed SPM you have also cre­at­ed many dif­fer­ent mobile apps. What’s cur­rent­ly your pre­ferred equip­ment and work­flow to take your own stereo photos?

Suto: I most­ly use Canon EOS M6 2 units or Canon Pow­er­shot S95 2 units + SDM, and Pana­son­ic 3D1 (stereo camera).

Stere­osite: Let’s get back to the app devel­op­ment. How long does it take to go from an idea to a fin­ished app? What is the most chal­leng­ing part of the process?

Suto: The time from idea to fin­ished appli­ca­tion varies, of course, from appli­ca­tion to appli­ca­tion. In terms of func­tion­al­i­ty, the time from idea to start pro­gram­ming can vary wide­ly. Some­times I start right away, and some­times it takes years. Once I start pro­gram­ming, I can almost always imple­ment it in a day or two. The dif­fi­cult thing about pro­gram­ming is that I can get a lot of infor­ma­tion about pro­gram­ming on the web nowa­days, but I can hard­ly find any infor­ma­tion about func­tions for 3D. So I often have to fig­ure out the algo­rithm by myself.

Stere­osite: This sounds real­ly chal­leng­ing. Were there times you just want­ed to quit or have you always been confident?

Suto: It’s not my job, just my hob­by, so I don’t take it that seri­ous­ly. If I find a good algo­rithm, I just imple­ment it.

Stere­osite: You must keep quite busy with stereo photg­ra­phy and pro­gram­ming! What else do you enjoy doing when you are not occu­pied with those things?

Suto: I am an office work­er, so I go to the office on week­days. On my days off, I enjoy walk­ing, hik­ing, cycling, and short trips with my fam­i­ly. Since I do the pro­gram­ming in between these activ­i­ties, I don’t spend that much time on it.

Stere­osite: You seem to have an unlim­it­ed stock of ideas. What’s com­ing next?

Suto: When I get a new prod­uct, I want to try it out. In the past, I’ve tried mobile phones, 360 degree cam­eras, Ocu­lus, Look­ing Glass, etc. I don’t have a spe­cif­ic idea for the next one. I’m think­ing of mak­ing an Android app or a Mac app, which are high­ly request­ed by users, but it always takes me a long time to get started.

Stere­osite: What do you regard as your great­est achieve­ment? What are you most proud of?

Suto: I’ve nev­er thought about achieve­ments or pride. Basi­cal­ly, I’m mak­ing apps to achieve what I want to do, and I’m releas­ing them because I’m sure there are oth­ers who want to do the same thing. So, I’m hap­py if there are peo­ple who enjoy 3D with my apps, even if only a lit­tle. My great­est pride is that thanks to doing 3D, I have made won­der­ful 3D friends all over the world.

Stere­osite: SPM and your apps have enabled a new gen­er­a­tion of 3D fans and cre­ators world­wide. How do you feel about this?

Suto: I would be very hap­py if I could con­tribute in any way to the birth of a new gen­er­a­tion of 3D fans and cre­ators around the world.

Stere­osite: I’m sure you do! Thank you again for the interview.

Masuji Suto (Ibaraki, Japan)

I’m a 3D enthu­si­ast, pho­tog­ra­ph­er, app mak­er, and I’m inter­est­ed in all things 3D. I’m inter­est­ed in all things 3D, includ­ing stereo rigs, how to shoot, sync, view, etc. I also like VR, AR, and Look­ing Glass. My most pop­u­lar apps are StereoPho­to Mak­er for Win­dows, i3DSteroid for iPhone, 3DSteroid for Android, but I’ve also cre­at­ed a vari­ety of web apps. I am a mem­ber of Stereo Club Tokyo and ISU.

Web­site: https://stereo.jpn.org/eng/index.html
Insta­gram-pro­file: masu­jisu­to
Face­book-pro­file: masuji.suto
Twit­ter-pro­file: spmak­er
Awards: https://stereo.jpn.org/jpn/award.htm

Pascal Martiné (Mainz, Germany)

Pas­sion­ate about stere­oscopy as a col­lec­tor and pho­tog­ra­ph­er since 2016. Admin of the stere­osite. More on About me.