The Homemade View-Master® Concept Reel

I’ve been tinkering with this idea for a while.  It’s a concept that involves building something for a toy I once enjoyed as a little kid.  And if it works … I’ll have some great images for future projects.  Maybe not for Competition Season showings … but possibly for “Charity Season” showings.

Let me explain.

For the past few weeks, I’ve taken stereo photographs of various winter scenes.  You know … the Black Bridge in Green Island, a snow-lined stream in Schoharie County, a frozen shot of the Helderberg Escarpment at Thacher Park.

And you’re probably wondering to yourself … “Chuck, you’ve been on this stereo photo kick for a while.  Are you going to make another lenticular print or something?”

Oh I’ve come up with a better “or something” concept.

I’m building my own View-Master® reel.

No, seriously.  I, Chuck Miller, am crafting my own personal View-Master® reel, made of my own 3-D photographs, which can be viewed in any vintage Sawyer’s or GAF View-Master® viewer.  Okay, technically, View-Master® is a registered copyrighted term (View-Master® is a registered trademark owned by Mattel), and since I’m getting tired of putting that ® graphic into my text, I’ll just call my project a “stereo viewing master disc” going forward.

The Stereo Viewing Master Disc concept is simple.  You get seven pairs of photos on a little printed disc.  The photos fit in a viewer, and you push down a lever to advance each photo in stunning three dimensions.  Aces and Jokers.

Now I could certainly PURCHASE some reels and that would be fun in and of itself.  But what if I was to CREATE my own disc – based on my own personal photography?

And if I can conceive it … then certainly I could create it.

Of course, I can take all the stereo pictures I want.  But to create the custom stereo viewing master discs… I need a production outlet.

And after much searching … I found a production outlet.

Say hello to Image 3D.

I contacted Image 3D and asked what I would need to provide to them for a customized disc.  They said all I needed was seven pictures.

“But if I want to create a stereoscopic version…”

“Oh, yes, we can do that as well.  You’ll need seven pairs of pictures, and you just want to get them oriented in such a way so as to show true stereo depth.”

Ooh.  This sounds like fun.

I decided to test-build a custom reel by using some of my winter photos – the stereoscopic shots I’ve taken with my Nimslo and Kodak Stereo shooters.   And just to make sure I could put this together properly, I used a Kodak Stereo shot of my “Troubled Bridge Over Water” winter shot in Warrensburg.

I cropped two images from one of the test strips, and sent them off to the reel manufacturer.  If I’m doing it correctly … they’ll let me know.

Here are the bridge shots, left and right.  Rather than give you the “wiggle-graphic” version of this picture again, I’ll just ask you to stare at the two pictures, and relax your eyes until the two pictures blend together as one image.

I sent these images off to the manufacturer.  This was my test.

A couple of hours later, the manufacturer contacted me with some notes and suggestions.  I was on the right track.  Yay.

After I took my photos and carefully aligned each one, I sent the images to the good people at, who can make customized special stereoscopic viewing master discs from my work.

Trust me.  They can do this.  I actually saw them craft discs like this on an episode of How It’s Made.

A week later, Image3D contacted me with some questions regarding captions for my photos.  Unlike the old View-Master reels, where there were captions in a special center window for each picture, Image3D actually prints the captions directly on the photos.

Sort of like this.

Now that’s nice.  And from what Image3D told me, the text will “float” over the slides, just as the slides themselves will have a nice 3D experience to them.

Yesterday, the disc – and a complimentary viewer – arrived in the mail.

Damn that’s awesome.  I never thought in my wildest dreams I could create something like this.  Not in my wildest dreams.  Not even in the tame ones.

Of course, I needed to test this bad boy out.  And last night, as I attended the 9th annual All Over Albany party (go visit this site, it’s awesome), I brought along the Image3D disc and a little complimentary blue viewer.

Everybody who looked though the device and saw the photos had the same reactions.  “Wow!” “How did you do this?” “This is awesome!” “I used to have one of these as a kid!” “Sweet!”

Those are the kinds of reactions that work for me.

Now granted, I can’t enter these discs as competitive photos at Altamont or the New York State Fair or any other place like that … but that won’t stop me from showing this little project at other locales.

I’m planning on having this disc as part of an upcoming 3D and stereoscopic event at the Photo Center of the Capital District, and I’m also more than willing to show off this little creation at various get-togethers and events.

And yes, I’m even planning on making some custom reels for 2017 “Charity Season” shows.  You know I’m going to do that.

NOTE: View-Master® is a registered trademark owned by Mattel.  All rights reserved.  The Stereo Viewing Master Discs created from my photographs, while compatible with vintage Sawyer’s and GAF View-Master® viewers, were not produced by either Mattel or View-Master®.

FTC NOTICE: At no time did I receive, nor request, any special discounts or considerations with regard to referencing this project in my blog.