I believe it was Hall Davidson who first showed me how to create a hologram projector using a cell phone.   We did it at a DEN team retreat and the wow factory was incredible.   It really did seem like magic.   I recently revisited the project because I was talking about holograms at FETC and thought it would be nice to include how to make your own, DIY style.

As I was talking about it, someone raised their hand and asked if I knew of any way to create your own holograms.   I was about to respond that it would require some sophisticated video editing chops… when I realized that I already knew of a perfect tool to do it with:  WeVideo!

WeVideo has long been my favorite video editing app, online or offline, and when I embarked on this new solo career, they were one of the first groups I reached out to.   I’m doing some consulting with them right now as they are always looking for more ways to make it suit the needs of educators.    If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s essentially iMovie… but in the cloud.   This means it can be used on any computer, with just about any browser (including chromebooks), at school or at home as well.  While iMovie and movie maker tend to be the standard ‘go to’ editing app for educators, WeVideo is not only comparable, in many ways it’s superior to them.

Making your own hologram is pretty simple.   All you need to do is cut out four trapezoids of a particular size, tape them together and place the resulting inverted pyramid on top of your cell phone or tablet.   The key though is to display a video on the screen that is formatted in a particular way.   The image itself needs to be displayed four times, with each clone rotated 90 degrees and spaced so that there is an empty spot in the middle of the screen.   That empty spot is where the pyramid gets placed.   While technically any video would work, the images that pop the most are ones that have the hologram using bright colors, and a completely black background.

iMovie and Moviemaker just fine for simple editing, but you need something more sophisticated to do multiple lines of video.   For some reason though, it never quite occurred to me that this could done in a snap using WeVideo!  They call it the Brady Buch Effect, but it is also perfect for making holograms!  The process you go through is:

  1. Record your movie – As I mentioned, ideally the subject is going to be brightly colored and have a completely black background behind them.   While this can be done with a black backdrop, it can also be done using chromakey.   Record it on the usual green background, and then in WeVideo, use the chromakey feature to remove it.
  2. Import the movie – WeVideo can import in from a variety of sources, such as Drive, Facebook, Box, Instagram, DropBox, Flickr, OneDrive or Picasa.  Of course, you can also just upload it from your phone or computer as well!
  3. Create 3 new lines of video – In the upper left corner of the timeline, just click on the “+” sign three times.   This will create new lines.   Remember, they function like transparency slides.   The top layer of video is the only one that will be visible until you shrink it down in size.
  4. Add your hologram video to the timeline – While technically you can add it to any layer, I suggest starting with the lowest layer and then building up.   Drag it from the media bin to the timeline.
  5. Resize and position the video – What you basically want to do is shrink the video down to about 1/4- 1/3 of the screen.   The reason for this is that you are going to need to wind up having four of them on the screen, one on each access, with some empty space in the middle.  Click on the clip itself, and then click the ‘edit’ icon.   Once you’re in the Edit section, shrink the clip down, and then arrange it at the top middle of the frame.   This first clip is the only one that won’t require any rotation.
  6. Repeat three more times – Drag the exact same clip from the media bin into the second line of video.  It will cover up the first clip initially, but don’t worry. You’ll see it again once you shrink this one down.   Resize it to the exact same size as the first, and rotate it 90 degrees.   Reposition it to the left or right side, making sure the bottom of the video is towards the center of the window, not the edge.   Do this two more times so that you have four identical videos, on all four axes, with the bottoms all towards the center with an empty space in the middle.   If you notice, below the preview window there are “Show Grid” and “Snap” options.   These will help you align everything just right.
  7. Export your video – Finalize it, publish or download it, and send it to your phone or tablet.   While you could do it in HD, you won’t notice a huge difference.   Download it in 480p and transfer it via email (any other method of your choice) to your device.
  8. Play your hologram – Click play, choose the full screen option, and then put your hologram projector on top of your device.   If you did everything right, you should see your own hologram floating above the screen.   Don’t forget to turn off the lights to get the full effect!

That’s about it!   I tried to get pretty granular with the directions, but once you get the concept, it’s ridiculously simple to do.   And using this, your students can really make some spectacular videos.   Just think about them describing how the solar system works through a voiceover, while holograms of the planets serve as the visual aids.   Or creating hologram versions of classic literature.   Or having students create biographies of themselves, as told by their holograms 500 years in the future!

If you wind up making your own holograms with WeVideo, send me a link.   I’d love to see what they create!