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stereoscopic 3D images and video

It seems that 3D movies have once again died a tragic death but about a year before Avatar came out, I was betting that 3D was going to be here to stay. All of the larger theater chains upgraded their equipment and screens. Software developers were working as fast as they could to create the tool for stereo 3D. Blu-ray had stereoscopic built into it's standard. TVs and Blu-ray players were all there........ But nobody wanted to wear the glasses :lol:

Anyway, I have spent the past 5 or 7 years learning all I could find out about stereoscopy. One of the things I learned right away is that a majority of the people making 3D movie content did not understand what they were doing. They broke some of the most fundamental rules and delivered images that created tremendous eye strain on the view.. The people making 3D pictures (single images) were doing a much better job in most cases. They seemed to understand the process better than film makers.

The easiest and most accessible way to show 3D pictures to most people is to make anaglyph 3D pictures. Those are the one you have to wear red and cyan glasses to view. Here is one that I made.

You can buy inexpensive cardboard anaglyph glasses on Amazon.com. Don't buy the more expensive hard plastic anaglyph glasses. You might think that more expensive is better but this is one of the rare cases in life where cheaper IS actually better..... The plastic glasses have lenses that are too thick. They block too much light. The cardboard ones are perfect! Remember Red and Cyan. There are other colors available but red and cyan are the standard that nearly eveyone on the planet uses.

Here is one more that I made. This ones is CGI: View this one from at least 2 feet away (with the glasses on). The farther away, the more the skull comes out of the screen!


The other way to view these images that doesn't require special equipment is something called cross eyed 3D.
Here is an example I made:


You simply look at the picture and cross your eyes. You will see 3 images, look at the one in the middle... Give your eyes a few seconds to relax when looking at the picture. After that, they will stay focused on the center image naturally.

If anyone wants to discuss stereoscopic 3D images and how to create them, chime in. I love this stuff. Maybe I can help you not make the mistakes that most people make.
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3D has come a long way, and is still in use in cinemas a little, though it’s fizzled out for home viewing.
I wouldn’t think that people who make high budget 3D movies ‘don’t know what they’re doing’ and in fact much planning and consideration goes into ensuring the 3D looks right and also doesn’t cause eye strain. I would suggest it’s much easier to make a single frame of 3D ‘work’ than it is 24 frames per second for 7,200 seconds... (that’s 172,800 frames and that’s not even taking into account movement and interpolation...)

Personally I think 3D has a future, though it may not necessarily be for blockbuster films. Wildlife documentaries or more immersive style films and experiences may be a better fit. It’s still rather cost-prohibitive on a big scale, and anyway VR has kind-of surpassed it to a large extent for that ‘immersive’ feeling. The next step is probably 3D VR which I think sounds very cool (though probably very expensive to make).

Unfortunately I don’t own any 3D glasses nor can I cross my eyes so I can’t check out your examples.
It's true that 3D has come a long way but never assume that just because a production has money that means they know what they are doing ;) . 3D movies being made now still "break the frame" with total disregard. They disregard scale and they continue to edit for a 2D presentation even though doing so does nothing to enhance the 3Dness of the movie. In fact, it hurts it...... I could write about this all night but I'd rather let it unfold naturally if anyone wants to talk in detail about stereoscopy. But I will say this; there is no difference between making a single 3D image and shooting 3D video. I've done both and they both use the same 3D window.

What is a 3D window?
What is parallax?
What is divergence?
What is Inter-occular distance?
What is Point of Convergence?
What is inside the frame, outside the frame, on the screen?
What is a 3D standard and how can it be calculated?

These questions and more are all very real questions that must be understood in order to make good and impactful 3D images/video. I have written a book on the subject. The text is complete but I need time to finish the illustrations and drawings. I would love to teach indie film makers these things...

If 3D has a future I think it will hinge upon the glasses free tv sets that are now being developed. 3D TV that does not require glasses. Most of the systems being developed use a lenticular lens over the screen which refracts the left and right image to the left and right eye, thus creating the 3D sensation without glasses. The key for these tvs to work is having 4K monitors that are sharp and also devising a way to have the most number of viewing zones in the room to watch the 3D movie from. The problem with lenticulars is that if you move horizontally you will pass from one viewing zone to another which will make the video look like it shifted.... Did you ever look at a 3D poster that uses a lenticular lens or a Blu-ray box for a 3D movie? The lenticular lens is what directs the left and right image to your left and right eye but, next time you get a chance to look at one, notice that if you move from side to side, the image breaks or seems to shift.....

Anyway, 3D glasses-free tvs are on the way. it might be a time when indie film makers can have a real shot at distribution that pays. Streaming providers will be screaming for content!! but not shitty content. The 3D must be good... Nobody wants to risk destroying the market by flooding it with crappy 3D.
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These questions and more are all very real questions that must be understood in order to make good and impactful 3D images/video.

I don't doubt you're very knowledgable on the subject. But I can assure you that every single one of those questions (and more) are addressed with every 3D movie that gets made. I can tell you with absolute confidence that no-one makes 3D movies (at least budgeted ones) without considering every single thing you've talked about. Keep in mind that many productions release in both 2D and 3D and therefore are constrained somewhat to what they can do depending on their budget and timing. Some productions do/have also done the 3D conversion in post, which adds a whole different element.

The people that generally work on these types of higher budgeted productions are specialists with at least as much, but probably much more knowledge about it than you. I'm not saying that doesn't mean you're not knowledgable on the subject at all. But don't just assume that because something may be out of whack, it was done so due to incompetence.

It's like when I see an out of focus image on screen on a $50million movie. There are many possible reasons for that shot being out of focus, and there are many possible reasons why it found it's way into the film. But I know that incompetence of the Focus Puller or editor will almost definitely not be the reason.

I'm not an expert in 3D capture, but having worked on some decently-budgeted 3D productions and talking with Cinematographers who have shot highly budgeted 3D productions, I would suggest the logistics of having two camera systems (along with lenses and everything) calibrated and matched and electronically controlled just so to get the inter-ocular and parallax and divergence etc. as wanted is, at best, a bit more complicated than getting a still image to look right, even if the fundamentals are the same.

As far as 3Ds future, I personally think that even glasses-free 3D is too much of a gimmick. It might have some success in the way that glasses-3D did for home viewing, but I don't know that people really want to watch 3D movies and television at home regardless of whether they have to wear glasses or not.

I could be wrong.
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I really didn't start this thread to argue with you, Jax. I simply wanted to start a conversation with people who want to talk about stereoscopy or who have questions about the processes.

The thing is this, jax, if you take some time to learn about stereoscopy you will find out that the term "expert" is subjective. Someone I revere and consider an expert might very well be someone who other "experts" do not agree with.

Stereo vison is very very simply; a scene being viewed from 2 different angles. Your brain merges the images and uses the parallax between features in the image to establish depth.

Stereoscopy is equally simply; recording a scene from two different angles then presenting the 2 different angle images so that the left eye sees only the left image and the right eye sees only the right image. There are, of course, considerations when taking these 2 pictures (stereo pairs) but aside from those considerations, It really is that simple.

Now, the place where disagreement comes into play has nothing to do with the basic process of capturing 3D images or video. The disagreements come into play over the philosophy of the practitioner, and in some cases, their stubbornness. As an example: there are those who believe the inner-occular distance between the 2 taking lenses in a 3D camera MUST be 2 inches apart because human eyes are 2 inches apart while others believe that inter-occular distance can be used as a variable and adjusted according to the scene being photographed... Both ways work even though the rationalization of one way over the other may not be sound..... But, I-Never-Said- Anyone-Was-Incompetent! Please don't ever put words in my mouth.

Anyway, I happen to believe in 3D photography/video and I happen to believe that indie film makers can also make 3D movies.
I don’t want to argue either, and in fact my intention is not to argue but to clarify. I know plenty of fantastic technicians who work or have worked in 3D capture and not one ‘doesn’t know what they’re doing’ but the realities of the logistics of one particular shoot or philosophies and decisions from the Director or their own experience dictate decisions that are made. Disagreeing with an expert does not necessarily mean you are correct, and also does not necessarily mean that they ‘don’t know what they are doing’ as you suggested the majority of people capturing 3D movies don’t.

I’d love to hear about ways indie filmmakers can access 3D capture, because as far as I can tell there is an inherent cost prohibition that stems from the fact that you need two calibrated and controllable cameras and lenses, ideally with their angles (and possibly inter-ocular distance) adjustable. You can’t use auto-focus, for example.

I agree with you that the fundamental idea of capturing a 3D image is the same for both video and image. It seems to me that the logistics of capturing a moving image with all the creative input over parallax and divergence and inter-ocular etc. is much more difficult to achieve. You can use one of those 3D handycams but then you lose all that control. Similarly, monitoring on-set would require at least a 3D television and a way to take the two camera feeds and overlay them in a way the tv requires... and may require an extra person who can monitor the 3D effect over and above the performance and continuity that the Director and Script Supervisor already monitor.

I may be wrong; I’d love to hear about how an indie filmmaker can access 3D.

I’d also love to hear about what high budget 3D productions could do to make the experience better, and why they may have had to choose the path they did, other than simply implying they all ‘don’t know what they’re doing’.
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Comparison is a part of teaching and learning; the techniques I believe in compared to the techniques they obviously believe in.... What boggles my mind is that you are so determined to defend 3D film makers considering that you are not one of them. I don't feel I have anything to prove to you. I came here simply to share what I have learned over the years with other indie film makers. I wasn't expecting to be challenged by a non-practitioner the second I dared to talk. I simply started this thread by saying "a majority of the people making 3D movie content did not understand what they were doing" and I stand by that. I never said they are incompetent. I never said they are doing it wrong. I simply said they do not understand, and your defense for them is that they have better equipment than me and more money therefore they are right and I am wrong.. wow..

Yes, I was planning on explaining my position. Obviously I think I'm right otherwise I would not go to the trouble.

I really wasn't expecting this. Not at all... and not from a moderator of this board. As far as I'm concerned, this thread is closed.
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The 2009 hype has died almost completely except for blockbusters.
In the past I had horrible experiences with 3D: eye strain, headache, seeing double, but The Force Awakens and Beauty and the Beast were done pretty well: it was a great experience.

So the 4th or 5th wave of 3D is sticking around longer than every other attempt in the past.
It can be cool, but it is difficultto produce AND: although the screen is 2D, we can create the illusion of depth without stereoscopic images: perspective, paralax, relative sizes, foreground vs background, bokeh, light, color, haze, fog: they all help to submerge the viewer into a different world. Eventhough it is less extreme and confusing than stereoscopic VR.


IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Something I've learned;

When you post something here expecting to not be challenged you will
be disappointed. Here you will find people with differing opinions. Expecting
them to not challenge you is unrealistic. One does not post in a vacuum

As a non-practitioner of 3D filmmaking I, too, have questions and challenges
but I guess I shouldn't ask or comment. To me that makes this great forum
a little less informative.


IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Ask away, Velusion is cool peeps, everyone has a bad day, I'm sure he will welcome more comments.
That's right; Velusion is cool :) and besides, this thread went south only because it was misinterpreted.

Before moving on, re-read from the beginning. I never said anyone didn't know what they were doing. I said the didn't understand what they were doing. Big difference. I didn't even catch the reading error that jax was clinging to until today.

I don't mind being challenged. I love defending my position, just make sure the thing you are challenging is real and not the product of not being able to read...ok? :)

So, with that out of the way, let's talk 3D :cool:
That's right; Velusion is cool :)
Of course - and only cooler after a few beers :)

I said the didn't understand what they were doing. Big difference.
I stand by what I said. There's a difference between having a different outlook and philosophy around what you're doing and literally not understanding the concepts of it.

I think you'd find that there aren't many making big budget 3D movies that literally don't understand what they're doing, but as with anything when it comes to movie-making, logistics of the shoot, budget, time pressures, as well as different philosophies, different interpretations and different experience dictate the decisions that are made much moreso than any specific lack of understanding.

So, with that out of the way, let's talk 3D :cool:

I'm keen to hear about how indie and low-budget filmmakers can access 3D capture :)
jax, In the posts to come I will explain what I set out to discuss. I think you'll find out quickly that I'm not an egomaniac and I don't claim to know everything.

What is the value of 3D in a movie? is it just a gimmick or is it's value really in its potential to create an immersive experience for the viewer. In the past it was just a gimmick and certainly today film makers still take advantage of the way people enjoy having an arrow come flying out of the screen but more than that, today, film makers claim to aspire to create an immersive experience,,, at least that is what they claim.

An immersive experience. THAT is what my 3D philosophy is built around and THAT is what I claim today's 3D film makers are missing. They do not understand what it is they are doing, or trying to do. They are failing to create an immersive experience.

Jax, that's all I wanted to say when I started this thread. :yes:
Interesting. What do you think about VR and it's potential for a more immersive experience...?

I agree - as I said up top, I think 3D as an 'immersion' medium is/was potentially under-utilised, although in saying that I think the large majority of big budget Hollywood releases went down the path of immersion, perhaps alongside gimmick (although gimmick in so much as being 3D, not gimmick in the old ways of throwing things at you).

That said, I don't think that every film warrants or requires that immersive experience, and many certainly are not worth paying extra for it.

I like the idea of VR as even with my limited experience in it, it feels even more immersive than any cinema screen could. It seems like to go 'full immersion' you would want 3D-VR, which sounds extremely expensive and challenging to capture!

I think in regards to 'immersive 3D' there haven't been many films where the storytelling is borne out of the technology, I imagine mostly because most films had to work as a 2D and 3D story. I have seen a small handful of IMAX 3D films where the storytelling is more tied to the 3D technology and that is very interesting. Is that what you mean when you talk about an immersive experience?

Personally, I find that in the right 3D movies I can become immersed in the world of the story, but when the story and the technology go hand-in-hand, it becomes a different immersion. I don't know if that would work for every story or every movie, and I wonder if you limit accessibility by relying too much on 3D?

Anyway, just thoughts. Interested to hear your opinions.
I think in regards to 'immersive 3D' there haven't been many films where the storytelling is borne out of the technology, I imagine mostly because most films had to work as a 2D and 3D story. I have seen a small handful of IMAX 3D films where the storytelling is more tied to the 3D technology and that is very interesting. Is that what you mean when you talk about an immersive experience?


3D is added as an extra to movies instead of treated as a new form of media.

The same happens with 360videos. I've seen 'corporate 360 videos' that were shot as a normal video, but with a 360 camera. Trying to project a new medium on an existing one does not always work.

With stereoscopic movies it can work very well, but there might be a much bigger and differentent potential that is not being used. At the same time: movies rely on theatres. So from that point of view the current use of 3D is not that strange.
Chain of thought

I became interested in stereoscopy when word of James Cameron's Avator came out. "state of the art 3D" "so immersive you'll feel like you're there" If anyone could do it, it would be Cameron. He is a technically minded director who accepts nothing short of perfection and who has the money to invent new technology if it doesn't already exist. I was sold. If Cameron was making a 3D movie then 3D is the future!!

I was not impressed with Avatar the way I thought I would be, or wanted to be. Yes, it was a technical marvel and the story telling was good but, I didn't feel any sense of immersion. The characters were on the screen (or in the screen) and I was in the audience watching. I was not within the world being shown on the screen. Later I asked myself 'why not?'.

As you guys have already mentioned. You both said it but Walter put it very well "Trying to project a new medium on an existing one." For me, the biggest problem with 3D movies is that they are shot with a 2D mentality. Same camera angles. Same camera movis, and same editing style... and I understand why they still do this; the movie has to show well on a 2D screen as well as 3D. They can't afford to commit to "storytelling -borne out of the technology".

What would a 3D movie look like if the film makers committed to make a true 3D movie that is immersive? I have thought about this for years and I'm convinced that scale would have to be maintained and the editing cuts would have to brought down to a minimum. None at all would actually be the best. In essence, you would be watching a stage play. The people on the screen would have to be seen at true scale; about 6 feet tall. No close ups since there are no close ups in life unless you physically move in closer to someone. The pont of convergence (where the image appears ON the screen) for the stereo pairs would have to coincide with the actual distance between the viewer and the screen. Again, it would be like being present at a stage play.

So much for pure 3D movies. I don't think anyone will sit through a movie like that. Not even me.. So, we compromise. We use close ups and editing and we don't maintain true scale BUT we do modify the editing to make it less intrusive (good editing should not draw attention to itself anyway).. We use a deep DOF, longer establishing shots with fewer close ups, cut aways and all the other techniques that work well in 2D but will remind us in 3D that this is not real.

It seems like a losing battle. It seems like immersive 3D is a pipe dream. Any presentation that reminds us that what we are seeing is not real can not possibly be immersive.

But wait, that isn't true at all. I have been immersed in plenty of films. Everyone has but, here's the thing; none of them were 3D.

Jaws, close encounters, indiana Jones, Star Wars, The Exorcist,Breathless, Alien, Kramer vs Kramer, Wisdom, King Kong 1976. That is a partial list of films that I felt immersed in. Those are films that sucked me in and made me feel like I was there.

STORY TELLING!! that is and always has been the answer to the question 'how do you immerse the audience in the reality of your movie?'. Story telling.... Adding 3D to a so so story leaves you with a 3D so so movie. It won't be elevated by the magic of 3D because 3D is only 'more information' in much the same way that color film is only more information than black and white film.

This might sound strange coming from a guy who claims Hollywood does not understand what they are doing. I still stand by that. I mean, if they did, I think they would at least modify the way they shoot and edit a movie that will be presented in 3D. That is the least they can do. The most they can do is make a pure 3D movie that is designed to be a 3D movie. In the middle ground, they are completely capable of making 2 versions of the same move; a 2D edit and a 3D edit. Good planning and a good editing team could make this a reality.

... but at the end of the day, I believe the true immersive experience hinges on the story and the telling of the story. In conclusion, 3D is just more information.

BUT, if you are going to use it, you should use it well. Stereoscopy offers its own bag of tricks that can be used to help tell a story. Strange, I've discovered these tricks but from what I can tell, other 3D people have not. I never talk about them in detail because I don't want to just give them away. I either want to lay claim to them by using them in a movie or presenting them in my book. After that, anyone can use them. They don't cost anything.
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What you describe is a consequence of projecting on a screen: the only thing that can be done is turning a screen into a 'box', like a stage.
I don't think rreverting back to the stageplay is the way to go.
The filmtheory of montage is one of the elements that elevate movies from the medium of stage play.

I think the combination with 360VR will make a truly immersive experience possible, but it will presents its own story boundaries, since cutting will be hard and you can not control the frame anymore.
VR is already being used to treat PTSS or to train psychiatrists to make them experience a psychosis.

I love to think about what different media can be used for.
3DVR can be a great medium for short stories, but also as a spectator-medium for certain events.
But I think it's full potential lies in gaming: there you can interact and move within the VR space.
VR has great potential. I haven't studied it but I believe you're still looking at a screen. The screen is attached to your head via goggles or a headset and uses sensors to recognize head movement which triggers the VR to rotate the 360 video view to match the viewer's head orientation. It's a fantastic first step toward the Star Trek holodeck.

... VR seems best suited for "in the moment" events; video games, observing a water fall, just watching something happen.
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