Free Photo Editing Software Lets You Manipulate Objects in 3D

Impressive as they may be, Photoshop tricks are a little bit trite. But what if those same sorts of mind-bending manipulations came to life in 3D, allowing you to change the story of a photograph? Well, a new photo editing tool from some of the nation's top computer scientists lets you do just that. The best part is, you can try it out for free.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and the University of California just announced a new suite of software that makes 3D control of objects in a photograph look pretty easy. The tool taps into the many massive online libraries of stock 3D models to provide the specific objects that can be manipulated in a photograph. In a video, researchers show how they find a 3D model of an Ikea chair in their office and plug it into the software, making it possible to flip the chair over and look at it from any angle. The software automagically adjusts the texture and lighting, effectively adding detail to the sides of the object that can't be seen in the original photo, so that everything looks natural.

The effect is actually pretty incredible. While it takes a little bit of work to adjust the 3D model so that its dimensions match up with the object in the photograph, the examples shown by the researchers are pretty impressive. Have you ever seen a taxi cab do a loop-de-loo like that?

Of course, you have to remember that the possibilities of the software as the researchers present it are somewhat limited by the availability of stock 3D models, but a quick Google search reveals plenty of options.

If you're interested in the computer science behind the software, you might enjoy the paper the researchers just published which goes into extraordinary detail. There is no shortage of challenging-looking formulas in play.

Free Photo Editing Software Lets You Manipulate Objects in 3D

And if you're feeling super ambitious, you can download the actual software including a few different models so that you can try out the effect yourself. The source code is also available in case you feel like doing some tinkering, too. Otherwise, feel free to watch the full length demonstration of the software in awe. [Motherboard via CMU]

Gif by Nick Stango