What is Lenticular Imaging and Why Should You Know About It?
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What is Lenticular Imaging and Why Should You Know About It?

Lenticular imaging technology of today has morphed an old print technology into new stratospheres and consequently breathing new life and profit potential for printers and marketers alike.

By Izzy Bromberg

There’s a popular saying that goes, “Everything old is new again.” In the case of “Lenticular” technology, new advances have taken this old print technology into new stratospheres and consequently breathing new life and profit potential for printers and marketers alike.

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  • What is Lenticular?
    Very simply, lenticular refers to a sheet of plastic lens (that can come in different sizes and thicknesses) consisting of an array of optical elements called lenticules that create a convex perspective of multiple images. This technology is used to create a lenticular image. When viewed from different angles, different areas under the lens are reflected to the viewer. Views are arranged under the lens so that each eye is projected a different view. The brain then processes these views to a single coherent 3D, Flip or Animated image.

    Lenticular technology actually dates back to the 1690s when Gois-Clair, a French painter, discovered that he could achieve a dimensional effect on canvas by interposing a grid between a viewer and a painting. Gois-Clair painted two distinct pictures on a plane surface, over which he affixed a grid of vertical laths. These laths were arranged perpendicular to the plane and attached to it at right angles. By looking at the painting from the left side, one would see one painting; another distinct painting could be seen from the right side, and a combination of the two paintings could be seen when looking at the painting straight on.

    Modern lenticular began in the 1930’s with the development of the modern lenticular lens. Since then lenticular has been used on and off in various applications. One of the most popular applications was the lenticular prize in Cracker Jack snack boxes in the 1940s.

    Amazing Effects
    We spent some time discussing lenticular ­ now let’s talk about the amazing effects that can be created with this technology. It is important to note, that not every image lends itself to lenticular processing. For example images without any perspective will not work well with 3D while other images might leave some ghosting in flips.

    In general, there are three basic types of effects that can be created with lenticular:

    • 3D ­ Amazing 3D effects are created by adding depth to an image. There are two methods for adding depth, one is photographic and involves capturing multiple images of the same image with a digital or video camera from at different angles. These images are then processed and turned into a natural looking continuous depth image. The second method, recently introduced by HumanEyes Technologies, is the ability to take a 2D picture and convert it into 3D. This is done in a simple three step process:
      1. Layering (the process of separating the picture into different objects) of the picture (with no need for tedious tracing) into foreground, intermediate and background objects.
      2. Adding depth to the picture by manipulating the different layers.
      3. Filling in the background layer (the one that has the foreground images cut from it) with HumanEyes automatic filler tool.
    • Flip ­ A flip is a popular animation effect that alternates the picture between two or more images.
    • Animation ­ Animation is a combination of 2D effects (movement, rotation, zoom and opacity) that create a combined effect of animation. An additional animation effect is morphing ­ which is a picture transition effect from one picture to another.

    The Response
    One of the interesting aspects of lenticular is not only the cool effects one can create, but the affect they have on consumers. Lenticular has a significantly increased stopping power. That is ­ that people who see a lenticular application are Wowed by it!

    Studies have shown that 3D increases the stopping power of advertisements by as much as 5 times and increases the staying power by 4 times in relation to 2D ads. In one Market Watch study, 88% of a sample group stated that they prefer 3D advertisements in relation to 2D advertisements.

    People also preferred 3D ads by as much as 2.5 times more over 2D ads. In the same study, 2 times more people felt the advertisement looked better in 3D.

    These facts are key reasons as to why marketers continue to utilize lenticular for attention-grabbing campaigns.

    For example a leading women’s magazine used an outdoor flip advertisement mounted on the side panels of buses. The result was dramatic, eye-catching ads that instantly captured the attention of the people who viewed it. The magazine was amazed at the response of passers-by’s. People would literally stop in their tracks to catch the full effect of the poster.

    In another application a vending machine company turned their machines into compelling 3D displays by installing large (4 feet tall) photographic backlit 3D fronts to 45 of their vending machines. Almost immediately, the company saw a 16% increase in vending machine sales for the lenticular vending machines.

    Making Lenticular/3D Mainstream
    In recent years lenticular has become much more prevalent, due primarily to the increased quality and reduced costs of lenticular lenses. Pacur is an example of a major manufacturer of quality lenticular lenses and the company plays a major part in educating the industry on the value of printing on lenticular (www.Pacur.com).

    Until recently, creating lenticular was left in the hands of experts who were the only ones who possessed the expertise to create the effects and to interlace a lenticular file properly for printing. This all changed with the development of the HumanEyes Technologies PrintPro software (www.HumanEyes.com) and other software packages. This multi-faceted, easy-to-use 3D creation and production application developed for designers, photographers, ad agencies, brand owners and printers enables users to easily create high quality 3D images, flips and animated effects. They have also introduced a technology allowing for fast conversion of existing photographic stock of most 2D images into 3D.

    In the next installment, we’ll take a more in-depth look at the commercial sign applications of lenticular 3D and examine how printers and sign businesses can utilize this technology for profit.

    Izzy Bromberg is the product marketing manager for HumanEyes technologies. He can be reached at: IzzyB@Humaneyes.com

    In addition to here on SignIndustry.com, you can also learn more about lenticular at:

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