Competition Director Handbook
How to Set Up a Stereo Photography Competition
Updated August 23, 2016
Competitions are the primary activity of the Oakland Camera Club, and are grouped as "B" (beginner), "A" (advanced), and "S" (special topic). It's the job of the competition director to prepare each month's competitions.
The Oakland Camera Club presents its competitons on a 55" LG 55LB 6500 passive 3D HDTV. The set is capable of displaying .MPO stereo photos with its built-in software.
To prepare a competition for our 3D HDTV, the competition director must collect digital entries from members; format, group, and rename entries; create digital "contact sheets" to aid the judge's selecting; and create print score sheets for the scorekeeper to track acceptances.
- Stereo Photo Maker, for converting files
- Photoshop, for creating the judge's contact sheet and scorekeeper's score sheet.
- A batch file re-naming app (I use the Mac program "A Better Finder Rename," and equivalent tools are available on Windows)
- A USB thumb drive for each group
- A printer to print the competition's scoresheets
Recruiting a Judge
An ideal judge for an Oakland Camera Club competition is an active member of a Photographic Society of America affiliated camera club. Experience judging photography competitons is preferred, and exposure to stereo is desirable but not required.
The Oakland Camera Club's Handbook for Guest Judges is an introduction to stereo photography for judges new to the third dimension.
Where to recruit qualified stereo photography judges? The Oakland Camera Club maintains a small list. Attend local camera clubs and photography events. 3-D professionals, experts, and notable hobbyists can serve as a change of pace. Group "A" club members can judge in a pinch, provided they aren't also competing (club members should participate only in cases where an outside judge isn't available, because members tend to recognize each other's work).
Judges may participate in club competitions every three months. Each Oakland Camera Club member may judge up to once a year.
Competition Director Workflow
The 3D HDTV is fussy about how stereo photos are formatted, sized, and named. The set's built-in software is limited, but these steps will ensure a successful presentation.
The end result of these steps is a collection of folders and files that can be seen in the sample files.
1. Receive Submissions
Members email their entries to the competition director the Friday before the competition as parallel view, HD (3840x1080) resolution .JPG files.
Entries follow a specific naming convention: Lastname Firstname - A1 - Title.jpg (in this case, "A" is the group, and "1" is the order).
Save the .JPG files in an "originals" folder. Group them into "Group A", "Group B", and "Special" (if applicable) sub-folders.
2. Format Submissions for the 3D HDTV
Make a duplicate of the "originals" folder. Name it "projection."
Convert the .JPGs to .MPO files with Stereo Photo Maker's batch conversion tool (File...Multi Conversion). Delete the leftover .JPG files in the "projection" folder. Why not have entrants submit .MPOs? The set can't read all .MPO "flavors."
Randomize the files by appending a random number or characters to the beginning of the filename. If you don't have a utility to automate this step, you can manually append a random number to the filename (try random.org for a list). Or, use the club's original technique of adding the nth letter of the entrant's name based on the month.
Optional: Add one of the pre-made title cards, and name it so that it's the first file alphabetically, for instance: 0000 title card - group A.mpo.
3. Create Contact Sheets for the Judge
These instructions use Photoshop's "Contact Sheet II" utility (File...Automate...Contact Sheet II) to generate the judge's stereo contact sheet. Other "contact sheet" photography apps are also available.
A custom contact sheet template, Contact Sheet II - Judge's contact sheet.xml, sets the correct document dimensions and resolution, and lays out the thumbnails in a grid.
This step is repeated twice to make a stereo contact sheet. If you're pinched for time, a flat contact sheet will suffice.
- Make a duplicate of the "originals" folder. Name it "contact sheet".
- In Stereo Photo Maker, convert the side-by-side jpegs in each group to independent left/right jpegs with Stereo Photo Maker's batch conversion tool (File...Multi Conversion). Delete the side-by-sides.
- Optional: Rename the files by removing the maker's name, to keep judging anonymous.
- In Photoshop, run the Contact Sheet II utility (File...Automate...Contact Sheet II). Load the template by clicking the Load… button and selecting the "Contact Sheet II - Judge's contact sheet.xml" file that you downloaded.
- Under "Thumbnails," select the correct number of rows and columns to best fit on the screen. For instance, if the group's competition has 20 entries, try 5 columns and 4 rows. 21 entries would require 5 columns and 5 rows.
- Export as a .JPG, named "contact sheet - left.jpg" and saved in your "contact sheet" folder.
- Repeat for the "right" images in the group, export as "contact sheet - right.jpg."
- In Stereo Photo Maker, open both as independent left/right images, and export as an .MPO. Save it in your group's "projection" folder. Name it so that it's the last file alphabetically, for instance: 9999 contact sheet - group A.mpo. Repeat for each group.
- Archive your "contact sheet" folder in case you need to re-generate the contact sheet.
4. Set the Order of the Competition Entries, Copy to USB Drives
With (optional) title cards, randomized entries, and contact sheets saved for each group, there's one more step in the "projection" folder.
The 3D HDTV has it's own ideas about the order to display images. Even though the entries are randomized, make sure that the optional title card is the first image displayed, and the contact sheet the last image.
Numbering the files in the "projection" folder will guarantee that the 3D HDTV will show them in order. For example:
000 - title card - group a.mpo
001 - 1 Smith John - A1- Title.mpo
002 - 2 Smith Jane - A1 - Another Title.mpo
019 - contact sheet - group a.mpo
I use A Better Finder Rename for this chore, or you can do it manually.
Once in numerical order, copy each group to its own thumb drive. Separate USB drives for each group makes navigating the competition easier. The 3D HDTV has three USB ports.
5. Create Scoresheet
The scoresheet aids the scorekeeper in tracking the judge's selections, and serves as a paper record of the competition results. The scorekeeper can get by without a scoresheet by listing the title, maker name, and place on a sheet of paper, but the scoresheet makes the job easier.
This task also uses Photoshop's "Contact Sheet II" utility. A custom scoresheet template, Contact Sheet II - Print Scoresheet.xml sets up the page size and layout.
- Make a duplicate of the "originals" folder. Name it "scoresheet".
- In Stereo Photo Maker, convert the side-by-side jpegs in each group to independent left/right jpegs with Stereo Photo Maker's batch conversion tool (File...Multi Conversion). Delete the side-by-sides and the "left" images (the score sheets are 2-D). Repeat for each group.
- In Photoshop, run the Contact Sheet II utility (File...Automate...Contact Sheet II). Load the template by clicking the Load… button and selecting the "Contact Sheet II - Print Scoresheet.xml" file that you downloaded.
- Under "Thumbnails," select the correct number of rows and columns to best fit on the screen. For instance, if the group's competition has 20 entries, try 2 columns and 10 rows. 21 entries would require 2 columns and 11 rows.
- For each group, export as a .JPG and save in your "scoresheet" folder. Print the file, adding the meeting, group, and number of acceptances at the top of each page. Repeat for each group.
- Archive your "scoresheet" folder in case you need to re-generate the contact sheet.
Testing and Presenting
Test your competitions on the club's 3D HDTV the night before the meeting for missing or corrupted images. A run-through on a different set is not recommended, because the software might differ.
The 3D HDTV's "smart" remote takes some practice. Access each group's thumb drive with the "input" button, or hit the "home" button and navigate to the "Smart Share" app. Use the remote's direction pad and "select" button to select the group, and navigate through the group's images with the direction pad. To hide the pointer, press "up" on the direction pad. To hide the row of thumbnails, press "down" on the direction pad.
Next Club Meeting
Monday, March 20, 2017
7:00pm - 10:00pm
Albany Community Center, Albany, CA
From the PSA: "The PSA definition of Creative is 'Altered Reality.' The image must obviously display a change in natural color, form, shape, or any combination of these three. Creative images are often montages (a blending or composite of multiple images). High Dynamic Range (HDR) images without further changes are not considered "altered reality."