About this Article
Written by: Jennifer Rohrs
Written on: May 4th, 2010
Tags: art, entertainment, computer science, lifestyle, material science, sports & recreation
Thumbnail by: Amidror1973/Wikimedia Commons
About the Author
Jennifer Rohrs lives in Boston, MA, and she just completed her sophomore year at the University of Southern California, majoring in biomedical engineering. After graduation, she hopes to work in the pharmaceutical industry researching and developing drugs.
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Volume XII Issue III > The New Dimension of Entertainment: 3D Technology
Image depth is created by three processes: layering, line perspective, and binocular stereoscopy. The first two are most effective in creating 2D paintings while binocular stereoscopy is used in 3D media today. Stereoscopy employs the same principles as natural binocular vision by layering two slightly different images, which will then be separated for each eye, on one screen. There are two types of technologies used to separate these film images so that each eye only sees one image. The first technology involves polarized lenses, which restrict the angles of light that can pass through them. This allows for each image to be viewed through different polarized lenses. The other type of technology is the active shutter glasses, which pass frames of images in sequence. The lenses of the glasses flicker between black and clear at the same rate, so that each eye only sees every other frame. These technologies are used in a variety of media today, such as film which is currently the most popular from of 3D entertainment. Movies like Avatar have helped to improve both the technology and public awareness of 3D media. Other forms of entertainment such as video games have begun to adapt 3D technology as well. A variety of gaming consoles support 3D games that can be played on 3D televisions or 3D computers. 3D televisions use active shutter glasses and are the most expensive form of three dimensional media. The future of these televisions lies in the development of networks with continuous 3D content. If these televisions become more prevalent and popular, the next step in entertainment will be to incorporate the senses of touch and smell into 4D home systems.


Imagine that the window in your living room looked out to a whole new planet. That is exactly what happens in James Cameron’s 3D movie Avatar made available on Blu-ray. With the progression of 3D media, home entertainment is transitioning from a flat, out-of-reach picture to a realistic, three-dimensional portal.
Advancements in digital video imaging and screening technology have made 3D entertainment a reality. The equipment for viewing images uses either polarized glasses, which skew the light at different angles to overlay two images; or shutter glasses, which close each lens in rapid succession so that only one eye can see at a time. The media that uses 3D imaging is also very diverse. The most popular outlets right now are film, video games, and television, each of which has its own specific technology and equipment. Even with these exciting improvements, however, research in the entertainment industry has not stopped. 4D systems, another stage in the entertainment industry that is quickly approaching, use 3D viewing equipment as well as new technologies. The 4D systems will someday transform a regular living room into an amusement park ride.

Depth and Stereoscopy

There are three main processes used to create depth in paintings: layers, line perspective, and binocular stereoscopy The first two are the most simple for use in media. Layering occurs when objects are placed on top of each other to give the impression that one is positioned in front of another. On the other hand, line perspective uses the idea of a main point of convergence in the distance. As distant objects get closer to this central point they become smaller and smaller in comparison to the objects that are meant to be closer to the viewer. These methods cannot compare to the flexibility and realism of today’s use of stereoscopy, or binocular imaging, the third method of viewing depth.
Most people use binocular vision every day to understand depth and distance. When you look at an object, you are actually seeing two different images of it. Each eye gives a slightly different viewpoint, but both share a single point of focus. The brain interprets those images together, layers them on top of each other, and allow us to distinguish depth.
Stereoscopy, technology for viewing images in three dimensions, mimics our natural binocular vision by utilizing two cameras analogous to two eyes [1]. This method was originally used as a way to view photographs in three dimensions by capturing two pictures of the same object at slightly different angles and placing them in a specialized viewer. This process was soon adapted to motion picture; however, the expensive and highly specialized screens, projectors, and other equipment necessary to show these realistic 3D films prevented them from becoming widespread until recent times. Today, as technology becomes more advanced and prevalent, the public’s desire for life-like interactive media has spurred 3D technology ahead.