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Primer: The Principles Of 3D Video And Blu-ray 3D

Shooting 3D Video And Animated Movies

To create the illusion of “being there,” and to give our brains the same vision of a scene that we would see if we were seeing the scene with our own eyes, a camera needs to record the scene that each eye would see separately. 3D cameras have two lenses, spaced several inches apart, aligned in parallel. Some 3D cameras use a single camera, and some use two cameras, each with its own lens in a 3D camera rig.

By recording and later displaying a separate image of the scene for each eye, 3D film and video systems can recreate the scene in a way that closely matches what we would see if our eyes were in the same place that the camera was when it recorded the scene.

The average “interocular distance” (spacing of the eyes) is about 2.5 inches. One important variable for 3D camera systems is the interocular distance. The further the spacing of each camera lens, the greater the 3D effect. Cameras set up with an interocular distance of 2.5 inches are said to be configured to be orthostereoscopic. This setup attempts to accurately replicate human vision.

Another important parameter is the angle of convergence. 3D camera lenses that are aligned in parallel will result in a picture where all objects appear to be in front of the TV screen (or display). Objects at an infinite distance will appear to be on the screen. To create a stronger 3D effect, camera lenses can be angled (converged) slightly inward. With this setup, objects at the distance where the optical axes of both lenses converge will later appear to be on the screen. Closer objects will appear in front of the screen, and farther objects will appear to be behind the screen. Cameras like the Panasonic AG-3DA1 (shown above) feature lenses that allow for the angle of convergence to be adjusted, to align to a distance that the videographer prefers.

Animated Movies

3D animated movies are movies that are created using 3D object modeling software. This genre of movies was pioneered by Pixar with the movie Toy Story. Characters and scenery in the movie are generated as three-dimensional models. Of course, these movies are normally rendered to standard two-dimensional frames.

Modern computer games are created in a very similar fashion, but they are rendered in real-time as you play the game. 

A big advantage of 3D animation is that it can also be rendered and viewed in 3D. To create a 3D version of the movie, the movie is rendered in two separate passes (one for each eye). For the second pass, the studio simply moves the virtual camera perspective 2.5 inches to one side, creating the video for the second eye. Though each frame of video can take hours to render (due to complexity), the cost of rendering a second perspective of a movie is small compared to the overall cost of creating the movie. For a good movie, the additional cost of creating a 3D version through a second rendering pass is modest compared to the benefits.

  • JohnnyLucky
    Very informative primer. Lots of information that was easy to undertsand.

    Unfortunately I am one of those who recently purchased a new TV. It will be quite some time before I upgrade.
    Reply
  • TheGreatGrapeApe
    Nice article, but I think there's a few issues with regards to the overall balance of the information being put forth.

    I understand the author's preference for shutter glasses (especially since it's a certain product's preferred method of choice) even if I don't share it, the major limitation is having to buy a pair for all your friends coming over, which gets impractical until they are more commonplace.

    Also polarized solutions are not limited in resolution if they are set-up beyond just the example provided in this article (like they do in the theatre with dual projectors ) and may have an improving single source future with 2K and 4K displays on the horizon. It's a question of preference, but it seems like the full story wasn't explored on that subject.

    Now on to a pet peeve: I love the part about "While set-top Blu-ray players will need to be replaced, PC-based Blu-ray player software can be upgraded." as a subtle product benefit plug.

    Unless it's a free upgrade, you are still replacing the software, not upgrading it (it's not a plug-in), and you're likely forking out nearly the same amount of money for the 1/100th of the cost to produce that software update, so it's not like it's a major advantage. Especially when upgrading requires a FULL upgrade to the most expensive model Power DVD (version #) Ultra 3D, and I can't simply add it to my existing PowerDVD bundles thus potentially changing my backwards compatibility (Ultra 9 already removed my HD-DVD support from Ultra 7 that I upgraded on my LG HD-DVD/BR burner

    , until then it's $99 (or $94.95 for loyal saps) vs $150-200, plus with the set-top route now I have a second BR-/DVD player for another room or to give to a friend (the BR software on its own is useless to give to someone else without a drive), and that's not even compared to the free PS3 upgrade.

    Also can someone explain this statement;
    "Blu-ray 3D video decoding solutions can be expected for ATI Radeon 5000-series graphics in the future."

    Didn't Cyberlink already show their BR-3D solution on ATi hardware last year? So what's the issue?

    Also why is it limited to "GeForce 300M-series mobile graphics" when often the core is the same a previous generation 200M series (example GTS 350M / 250M )?

    And this section "Full-quality 120 Hz frame-sequential 3D video (such as Blu-ray 3D) is only supported through a High Speed
    HDMI cable to a HDMI 1.4-compliant TV. " seems to miss the DVI dual-link to monitor option currently being used for 3D on PCs, and also the dual 1.3 input monitors/TVs.

    A nice little article for people unfamiliar with 3D, but there's a subtle under-current of product preference/placement in it, and far too many generalities with little supporting information. :??:
    Reply
  • hixbot
    well done. I would of liked more detail on the hdmi 1.4 spec, specifically framepacking and the mandatory standards (no mandatory standard for 1080p60 framepacking).
    also some info on AVRs and how a 1.3 hdmi AVR might pass on 3d video and still decode bitstream audio, or not - do we need 1.4 hdmi AVRs to decode audio from a 1.4 source? we shouldn't need 1.4 receivers since the audio standards haven't change, but I'm understanding that in fact we do neeed new receivers. :/
    Reply
  • hixbot
    double post. good article.
    Reply
  • ArgleBargle
    Unfortunately for people with heavy vision impairment (astigmatism, etc.) which require corrective lenses, such 3D technology is out of their reach for the time being, or at least next to useless. Until some enterprising company comes out with 3D "goggles", people who wear corrective lenses might as well save their money.
    Reply
  • boletus
    3D is cool, and high definition video is cool. But Sony's moving target of a BD standard is not cool, and Cyberlink's bait and switch tactics are not cool (unless you have bundles of money you can throw at them every 6-12 months). I sent back my BD disk drive (retail, with Cyberlink software) for a refund after finding out that I would have to shell out another $60-100 just so I could watch a two-year old movie. As far as I'm concerned, high definition DVD video is dead until some more open standards and reliable software emerge.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Great,

    This piece is a prelude to tomorrow's coverage, by Don, of Blu-ray 3D on a notebook and a desktop. Perhaps that one will answer any of the questions you were left with here?

    As for AMD, Tom and I went back and forth on this piece, and we agreed that it was critical to get AMD's feedback on Blu-ray 3D readiness. The fact of the matter is that it isn't ready to discuss the technology. It's behind.

    The mention of dual-link DVI was in the first revision of this piece and removed in a subsequent iteration. I've asked the author for additional clarification there and should have an answer shortly.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    So it turns out there were two sections on this and one was cut accidentally. Should be good to go now, though--dual-link DVI is discussed with PC displays!
    Reply
  • cleeve
    TheGreatGrapeApeAlso can someone explain this statement;"Blu-ray 3D video decoding solutions can be expected for ATI Radeon 5000-series graphics in the future."Didn't Cyberlink already show their BR-3D solution on ATi hardware last year? So what's the issue?
    It turns out the demo (I think it was at CES?) only used CPU decoding over an ATI graphics card; the Radeon did no software decoding.

    The Cyberlink rep tells me that Blu-ray 3D software decoding is extremely CPU-dependant and might even require a quad-core CPU. He said all four threads were being stressed under software decoding, not sure what quad-core CPU they were using though.

    Definitely something I'd like to test out in the future...
    Reply
  • Alvin Smith
    This was a very informative and well written article BUT, I chose to skip to the last two pages ... Because ...

    These implementations, while ever more impressive, are still being threshed out. Because of possible physiological side effects, I think I will NOT be a first adopter, with this (particular) tech (3D).

    Anyone ever watch that movie "THE JERK", with STEVE MARTIN ??

    = Opti-Grab =

    ... I can see all these class-action suits by parents of cross-eyed gamers ... hope not, tho ... I *AM* very much looking forward to the fully refined "end game", for 3D ...

    Additionally, the very best desktop workstations are only just now catching up to standard (uncompressed) HD resolution ingest and edit/render ... since that bandwidth IS shared, between both eyes, this may be a non-issue.

    I will let the kiddies and 1st adopters take-on all those risks and costs.

    Please let me know when it is all "fully baked" and field tested!

    = Alvin = (not to mention "affordable").
    Reply