Animate Your Parties with a 3D Photobooth

by An Xiao on February 3, 2012

It's the ultimate party photo — 3D, animated and bearded.

It's the ultimate party photo — 3D, animated and bearded. Image courtesy DIGITALKITCHEN.

LOS ANGELES — It looks like animated GIFs are certainly seeing a renaissance. Shortly after spotting the NYPL’s Stereogranimator, I stumbled across Protobooth, an animated GIF photobooth.

Yes, you read that right. Concocted by the Seattle-Los Angeles-Chicago design firm Digital Kitchen, the Protobooth consists of four Macbook Pros, three Canon 5D MKII’s, a few other gadgets and a party in a portable kit. Utilizing a recipe of software hacks culled together with MaxMSP, the Canon EOS Utility and the Adobe Suite (Photoshop and Flash), the Protobooth makes it easy to take animated GIFs at a party.

Three cameras were used to create the 3D animated GIF effect. Image courtesy DIGITALKITCHEN.

Three cameras were used to create the 3D animated GIF effect. Image courtesy DIGITALKITCHEN.

While some of the images are indeed animated, most have the same effect as Stereogranimator, namely, to simulate a 3D viewing experience. The moments are frozen in place, and just like bullet time, we zoom around — albeit without the full 360 experience.

So where can you get one? Ah, that’s the rub. “We have no plans to commercialize the Protobooth,” David Mikula told me in an email. Mikula, who holds the cool title of “Senior Creation,” worked on the project with a half dozen others on the team. “It was an internal project that we had a lot of fun creating. That being said, everything we learned from this process has the potential to make its way into future projects.”

Here’s hoping Digital Kitchen at least throws together an open source kit and instructions for the Protobooth-less among us. In the mean time, we can watch the frenetic images and be jealous. Or those who attended 319 Scholes Art Hack Day probably got a taste of another version of the same concept which was created by Ashley Zelinskie.

“The moment we saw the images animated together, we got excited,” Mikula said. “We immediately started thinking about the possibilities.”

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  • Den Hickey

    Yes, keep your party photos from becoming obsolete with a juddering gif!  All you need to continue to be cool when video and still digital images have become so commonplace is find some new way to smear some faddish technojuju onto your images!  After all, its not content that counts.. the medium is the message, so just find a faddish, newish way to present your otherwise trite and boring images and you become an art genius! … or at least your hipster friends will think you are cool until the next new thing comes along.

    • Hrag Vartanian

      Consider it the contemporary Polaroid.

  • Lindsay Howard

    Some other good examples of animated GIF booths for party photography:  Aaron Meyers’ 360frames installation at Eyebeam in 2011 ( and Ryder Ripps’ Photo Booth also at 319 Scholes in 2010 (  I’m constantly pulling up the 3frames iPhone app to document exhibitions – it’s a fun way to capture people’s gestures and the movement of works, all in a small file size that makes them quick & easy to share.

  • Antonio Orlando

    Hehe reminds me when in 2005 I won a Nokia 770 from Opera, with my GIF/PNG animated artwork:
    Now that girl is my beloved wife.

  • Cynical Cynic

    It’s much easier to create a wiggle vision using two cameras, instead of 3 cameras and 4 computers. This isn’t revolutionary – this is a complicated version of very old photography techniques.

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