Ever since I stumbled upon anamorphosis I have wanted to make one for myself, to decorate my home with, and especially something that would spook visitors. This specific idea formed in my head about six months ago, but it was not until recently that I got to realizing it.
To keep this simple I will not try to retell my entire thought process, as it spans over months and months, but instead what I ended up doing and why.
I made up my mind to put the anamorphosis in my bathroom, so it would be visible when sitting on the toilet. This because the picture only looks correct from one specific viewing angle, and as I have such a small bathroom you have to sit down no matter what you need to do.
The print would go on the wall next to the seat, opposite the door. Because I wanted the picture to be highly distorted face on, which almost is the whole point, I wanted the real observation point to be almost from the side. This meant putting it on the wall would be perfect. To make things even more interesting, you actually look at the wall through the mirror above the sink.
With the help of masking tape I quickly deducted that the image could be 67×67 centimeters and still fit into view. I made it perfectly square for easy editing later on.
The motif would be myself visible through a window in the wall holding a camcorder, as to make the experience not only wondrous, but also a bit traumatic. This picture would also look like it was an actual hole in the wall, with the right perspective in the image. A fun detail is that I did not own a camcorder when I decided this, I got one just before summer this year, for general purposes mind you.
I positioned the camera where I thought people would most likely have their heads while sitting down and took a picture of my tape square, this is required for the editing later. To be able to recreate the camera angle and lighting of the scene I measured the position of the camera in relation to the wall and ceiling, as well as the position of the only light source in the room.
When I happened to have a friend over and nothing else was planned, I used him for the photo shoot. We went into the cellar and looked up a nice spot. With us we brought the following:
- A work light with breaker – to see what we were doing
- A detatched desktop lamp with bulbs – for lighting the scene
- Frosted glass from a ceiling lamp – to dim the light
- My DSLR including a cable remote
- The camcorder
- Extension power cords and a power strip
At the location we rigged the camera, measured the position, tried out the lighting and snapped a bunch of photos. We actually got it wrong the first time and had the camera looking into the corridor instead of facing the wall, so we had to redo it. The second time we emptied a storage room just inside the corridor and crammed my friend and the camera including tripod in there, a tight fit! This way we could get the correct angle while keeping the right distance.
Back at the computer we picked out the best photo, being the one with the least blur even though I had better faces in some of the others, and distorted it so it would fit the marked area in the bathroom. I had to clone a part of the wall to fill out a corner, nothing too complicated. See the below representation of the steps to get an idea of what I mean.
To get the anamorphosis to work while looking at it through a mirror I had to mirror the image before printing. I used my B&W A4 laser printer to try if it would actually work, and it did!
You need to have your head at the right place, but then it looks quite convincing! It is a bit more sensitive to your viewing angle than I expected, this due to the short distance between you and the picture, but hopefully it will startle at least someone :)
Below you have a short video depicting the process, also available at Youtube!