Hurricane Maria Faux 3D Animation From a Single Image

Adding a third dimension to an image of Hurricane Maria - A gimmick, but a nice one

Faux 3D effect animation made from MODIS data

In this animated GIF you can see Hurricane Maria in a faux 3D view created from a single image. The animation is based on an Aqua MODIS image taken September 19th, 2017. By using the brightness as indicator for the third dimension, a displacement map was created to render an animation and this 3D view is the result.

Eye candy

Of course the depth information is not scientifically accurate, still the effect makes for a nice visual, something that might be useful as eye candy in science communication.

Hurricane Maria Faux 3D animation based on Aqua MODIS data

Hurricane Maria Faux 3D animation based on Aqua MODIS data from NASA Worldview (GIF not working? Try YouTube)

More information on the 3D process

IC 410 and IC 405 Faux 3D Animation - Image data by Nicolas Kizilian animated by Pierre Markuse - Used with permission

IC 410 and IC 405 Faux 3D Animation – Image data by Nicolas Kizilian animated by Pierre Markuse – Used with permission

Basically what we are doing is creating a displacement map using the brightness information, then enhancing the contrast to get some more distinction, and finally using the displacement map to create the faux 3D effect by repeatedly displacing the image in small amounts using the map.

Depending on the image, the result can look quite convincing. It is also possible to move in any direction and not just making this small lateral wiggle, but in my opinion it works best this way.

If you are interested in finding out more about the process, you should read this Google+ post by Dylan O’Donnell, especially its comments (while you are at it, take a look at his website for some spectacular astrophotography). In those you’ll find some more explanations about the process and how it is done. There are also some more examples using this effect.

And while it was first used with astronomical images as the one you can see here, I thought it could also work with images of Hurricanes and gave it a try. The resulting animation of Hurricane Maria might just be a gimmick, but it surely looks mesmerizing.

Download

You can download these GIFs by simply right-clicking them and saving them to your computer.

A 1080p video version of the animation can be downloaded here on Flickr. In case you would like to embed the animation somewhere, you can use this YouTube video.

3 thoughts on “Hurricane Maria Faux 3D Animation From a Single Image

  1. Good evening Pierre,

    I found it a very nice article.
    I have worked as well on GOES 16 and wrote script in order to make an anaglyph picture of Maria.

    I would be very happy to show you if you were interested in.

    May I ask you where did you find picture of Jose’s eye on you 3D article ?

    Warm regards.

    Stéfan

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