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Is the term used to describe seeing the world in 3 Dimensions or "Stereoscopic Vision".

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3D: How & Why we can see in 3D

  • Feb 8, 2010
The Basics:
Within the physical space of the universe that we live in, there are 3 Dimensions (x, y, & z) that we can describe as the ability for us to move up, down, left and right.  Because our world exists in 3 Dimensions, we have the ability to perceive it as such.  When we're speaking about sight, this is described as Binocular Vision, 3D Stereo Vision, Stereoscopic Vision, or simply 3D.


As cool as 3D vision is (actually, it's like... super-cool), you might think that everything and everyone sees in 3D... but you'd be wrong.  The ability to see in 3D is something that most of us take for granted, but not everyone can see in 3D. 3D vision happens when our brain takes in two separate images (one from each eye) and merges them together in real time.  This merging (or 'super-imposing'... if you wanna get all fancy) allows us to see in 3D and have depth perception. Depth perception is what allows us to judge distance (how near or far objects are from us) and the speed of objects that may be hurled towards us.  Which brings me to the fact that Michael Jordan must have superb vision.  Anyways, my point was that in order to see in 3D, you must have at least 2 eyes (which transmits 2 images) so that your brain can merge the images together to let you see in 3D.  So... it's very unfortunate if you're blind in one eye, because that means that you are no longer able to see in 3D.  It's interesting to note that not all animals (even if they have 2 eyes) can see in 3D.  See, what gives you 3D vision is being able to see the same image from 2 slightly different angles. The distance between our 2 eyes makes the image of each eye a little different (because of the different viewing angle) and that's what gives us the perception of depth.  Animals that have eyes facing different directions can't see in 3D.

Being able to see in 3D has great advantages... mainly being able to judge distance and speed.  Because of this, many predators in the wild evolved the ability to see in 3D... for example, Lions, Tigers, and Bears (oh my! :)  The ability to see in 3D is one reason that many scientists think gave the T-Rex an edge as a legendary hunter.  Predators that can't see in 3D must rely on detecting movement to see their prey, but the T-Rex can see you... even if you're standing still and scared S%$*less.  Rawr!

3D in Photography:
In order to see 3D in Photo and Video, you must simulate how we see 3D in real life... and that means showing 2 separate images to your brain so that it can merge them.  To illustrate this, I thought it'd be fun to show you some 3D photos I took in Jemez, NM.   To see the image in 3D, you must "cross" your eyes until you see 3 images.  Now, focus on the center image... and you should be able to see it in 3D.  If you'd like to see a larger image, just click on the image you want to see a larger image of.

(Here's my beloved car in it's full 3D glory :)

(Jemez, NM is known for it's beautiful red rocks and scenic drives)

(In 3D, you can clearly see that this road slopes upward and judge how far the tree is in the background)

(Cliff in Jemez, NM: Seeing in 3D can really help you from running into a tree too)

3D Video:
in 3D movies, there are different ways used to superimpose 2 images to show 3D. Here are some of the most common ways:

-Red/Blue glasses: These glasses (also called Anaglyth glasses) act as a filter.  The image consists of an image with 2 superimposed images, one red and one blue. The red lens 'filters' out the red image so that one eye only sees the blue image, while the blue lens filters out the blue image, so that the other eye only sees the red image.  Your brain does the rest... by combining the two images into one 3D image.

-LCD shutter glasses:  These glasses have LCD lenses that can turn transparent or dark when electricity is applied. The lenses flip from dark to transparent in perfect timing with the video so that each eye sees a different image. It works with the frame-rate of the video.

-Polarized glasses:  These are the 3D glasses that are currently being used for 3D movies now.  The video that is projected onto the screen has 2 video streams superimposed using a polarizing filter. The glasses also acts as a polarizing filter so that each eye sees a different image.

It's important to note that in order to capture/record real 3D video, you still must capture two separate video images from 2 different perspectives.  This can either be done by physically recording with 2 different cameras or with a special lens which splits the image into two (using mirrors).

The Wrap-Up:
Now that you know more about how 3D vision works, I hope that it helps you appreciate our ability to see in 3D more.  Also, if you'd enjoy learning more about 3D... stay tuned for more reviews and discussions on this topic.
3D anaglyth glasses

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July 10, 2011
Good stuff on 3D !
February 19, 2010
Great review. I came across an article on Engadget for how to make your own low-budget 3d movies: http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/17/weber-sta...oot-3d-on-the-cheap-vi/ I feel like an entire new world of 3D movie makers are about to be unleashed.
February 17, 2010
You seem to assume that all perception of 3D comes exclusively from parallax--seeing with two different views, usually with separated eyes. Parallax gives your brain a big clue how to interpret what it is seeing, but it is not the only clue. Subtle differences in focus also help. Motion of your head will help to give your brain depth information even with only one eye. A one-eyed man is not totally without depth perception. Close one eye, walk around, and reach for objects and you will discover your depth perception is actually fairly good. It is even better in familiar surroundings where your brain can also factor in experience.
February 09, 2010
great review! very interesting... it's never occurred to me how exactly 3D works, thx!
February 09, 2010
Great review man! I loved the pictures! The last one I could stare at for hours!
February 09, 2010
I'm glad you enjoyed it :)  I added another 3D Photo to the review in your honor, lol... hope you enjoy it.
February 09, 2010
Top review! THE 3D WORKED! Plus it was interesting too. It's interesting to think that 3D movies have to take 3D created by a computer, shove it out over two projectors, using polarizing lenses to split the image, and then get merged by our brains. It seems like the DMV of 3D, but I guess until we can plug in computers that will have to do. Btw, have you seen 3D TV from Phillips. I saw in Thailand (no glasses needed). Amazing stuff.
February 09, 2010
Hey, thanks man. I haven't seen the Philips TV in real life yet but I'd love to because you don't need cheesy glasses to see it in 3D. If you're wondering how it works, Philips came up with a way to direct (reflect) the pixels in different directions. So half of the pixels are directed towards the left eye while the other half is directed towards the right. The only disadvantage is that you must sit within a certain viewing angle to get the 3D effect. Plus, you're really only seeing half the resolution of the TV if you think about it :) Still, the technology is brilliant. Sharp actually came out with a Computer monitor using the same technology a few years back. I'm hoping we'll see more of this in TVs soon... especially in HD TVs. Thanks for your comments!
February 09, 2010
I was quite amazed when I saw it, so I probably wasn't being very objective - there was a cup of coffee floating in the middle of the mall, so I was somewhat taken aback. Clearly, it's nowhere near as good as Avatar but 3D without glasses would just take over retail marketing if it was done well. It's exciting stuff - hey, I hope you write more reviews like this since I'm actually learning something. :-)
February 08, 2010
I feel pretty nerded out for the day ;)  Very interesting and helpful read though, I've never thought about 3D in such depth before!  I'm unable to see 3D in your cool images though.  My eyes are probably just weak :P Thanks for enlightening, El Duke!
February 09, 2010
Hey Devora, sorry you couldn't see the 3D images.Sometimes it helps if you just relax and let your eyes sorta "veg out"... pretend you're daydreaming about something ;)
February 09, 2010
Interesting that you said this, Debbie! I read this review as soon as it was out, then I thought, hey, may be it's a hoax? 3D? What 3D? I don't see it at all, LOL... & then I read it and haha... it doesn't make sense to me. My brain must be real weak, ;p
February 08, 2010
Very interesting. Nice job
More 3D reviews
Quick Tip by . February 08, 2010
Ever wonder how 3D works? How do we see in 3D? Well, wonder no more... read my full review that discusses the how and why... plus more.
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Duc Truong ()
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I'm a man with many hobbies. I work a full-time job in the field of 'Lyophilization' for a small Pharmacuetical company. It's a dream job because it gives me lots of days off to pursue … more
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The physical world exists in 3 Dimensions (x, y, z) and the term 3D is used to describe how we see and perceive things in our physical world. It can be used to describe visual and audio perception.
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3d, 3d Movies, Hologram, 3d Stereo Vision, 3d Photography, 3d Stereoscopic, 3d Sound, Holographic, Holograms


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