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

Today we're partnering up with the experts at CyberLink to introduce the principles underlying 3D video, how it is created, and how it's displayed. Our main interest is Blu-ray 3D, so we'll be exploring the tech your 3D-enabled home theater might include.

Tom Vaughan is the director of business development for CyberLink, developers of the leading Blu-ray player software, PowerDVD. He is responsible for marketing, strategic relationships, and new business development in the US. When the DVD format first emerged, Tom was responsible for developing the DVD authoring and mastering processes, managing the production of some of the first commercial DVDs in the US. Tom holds a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and an M.B.A. from Drexel University.

What Is 3D?

3D is an abbreviation for “three-dimensional.” Objects in the real world can be measured in three dimensions; for example, by measuring the length, width, and height of an object. When we look at objects in the real world, we can see the width and height of an object (the two-dimensional view of the object), but we can also perceive the depth and distance of the object.

We see the world with our two eyes. Because each eye is in a slightly different location, each sees a slightly different perspective of whatever we are looking at. We don’t normally think about these two different views, but if you close one eye at a time, you will see the image that each eye sees. Notice how much different nearby objects appear from the view of each eye.

Although each eye sees a different image, we don’t perceive two images. In a process called stereopsis, our brain combines the view from each eye into a single picture, and the combined image includes three-dimensional objects and depth perception. The word “stereopsis” is from the Greek words stereo, meaning “solid,” and opsis, meaning “sight.”  Stereopsis was first described in 1838 by Charles Whetstone, but scientists and artists have been fascinated with three-dimensional perception for many centuries.

While most of the population can see 3D, a small percentage of the population (estimates range from 3 to 15%) suffers from some stereoscopic vision impairment. Depending on the quality of the 3D presentation, this population will see no 3D effect or limited 3D depth perception. There are a number of possible causes for this, from decreased vision in one eye, to the loss of the ability to point both eyes inward towards nearby objects.