How it works: 3D stereo vision

Today's 3D stereo vision gives a fantastically realistic experience, unlike the crude 3D movies requiring colored glasses. It delivers full-color, full-HD and beyond to movie theatres, public spaces and homes.

3D imaging

3D stereo vision in movies and broadcast is closely-related to human stereo vision. 3D imaging requires two regular or HD cameras placed about the same distance apart as adult eyes – but may be more or less, depending on the shots being captured.

Stereo 3D (S3D) TV sets and projectors then decode the left and right signals and display them on the screen. People then use special colour-free glasses that enable the viewer to make sense of the two images, interpreting them as a scene with depth. Glasses-free 3D imaging is being developed, but the quality isn't yet high enough for movies.

3D in movies and broadcast

S3D uses the same basic technology to produce 3D imaging in movies and broadcast, there are differences that require technical and other considerations.

At home

  • TV audiences may want to watch longer than movie audiences. The production shouldn't tire them
  • There is less control over the viewing environment at home than in movie theatres. People may be widely off to one side, standing or sitting on the floor
  • It's sometimes impossible to get the images far enough apart on the smaller screen
  • On a TV screen you are normally well aware of the edge of the screen so you have to be really careful with objects breaking the frame.

In movie theatres

  • On big theatre screens, it's possible for stereo images to have sufficient positive parallax for the viewer's eyes to diverge when looking at 3D movies. This is uncomfortable and is to be avoided
  • On movie screens the viewer doesn't notice notice images around the edge of the screen, as the screen is so large. This means you can usually get away with the occasional object breaking the frame

Find out more about 3D imaging and 3D stereo vision.

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