De-3D: Watch 3D Movies in Comfortable 2D

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Like many people, I rushed to theatres in late 2009 to watch Avatar in stereo 3D. I viewed it with a large group of people and found that several members of the party experienced nausea or fatigue throughout the film. It turns out a significant percentage of the population1 is either stereo-blind or experiences discomfort when viewing 3D content, so this result isn't too surprising.

Immediately after finishing my first viewing of Avatar, I drove across town to catch a second showing using a different stereo technology and made a few observations that I believe may have contributed to viewer discomfort.

Ultimately, even the best stereo 3D content will still cause discomfort for some percentage of the population due to the inherent nature of the technology. As a result, given a sufficiently large group of moviegoers, some percentage is likely to prefer a 2D version over a 3D one. In these circumstances, a simple tweaking of the free 3D glasses given out at the theatre will allow a viewer to watch a 3D movie in the comfort of 2D.

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Introducing Stereoscopic 3D Studio

Saturday, March 14th, 2010

Stereo Studio is a lightweight stereo pre-visualization tool that provides a high performance shader driven framework for decoding and encoding stereo content for all display types. In addition to its functionality as a stereo movie player, this tool also provides support for motion matching, floating window and stereoscopic calibration adjustments, and collaborative workspaces. At a high level, the top features of this tool include:


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Avatar Technical Review (Film)

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Over the last several days I've been pouring over the reviews of Avatar, hoping to find one that offered an in depth analysis of the stereoscopic quality. I haven't found one yet, so I decided to write at least a basic one. Tonight I watched the movie twice - first using Real-D technology, and second (and immediately after) in IMAX 3D. I expected the Real-D experience to be better due to the following (perhaps gross) assumptions:

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Optimizing a Terrain System for Mobile

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

In 2001 the Vision 3D engine featured large outdoor environments supported by smooth and dynamically deformable terrain. The initial version of this engine was PC only, but almost eight years later I decided to update the engine to run on mobile devices. At the start of this process I quickly realized that the terrain system was both a storage and performance hog, and a number of features would need to be dropped.

The most significant cost to contend with was the file size of terrain maps and textures. These files were massive, as they supported very large open worlds with a high degree of detail. Optimizing this content for mobile meant sacrificing a number of features in order to significantly reduce the size of each terrain vertex.

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Real-time Heightmap Extrusion

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

The Vision Engine supports a number of different texture space effects including bump mapping and specular mapping. In addition to these, it also supports extruded heightmaps. These heightmaps add extra visual detail to the geometry, particularly when viewed at fairly wide angles - where normal bump mapping often breaks down.

As a result of this effect, any shadows cast onto an extruded surface will flow naturally over detailled contours, rather than fall flat along the plane of the underlying geometry. The following video shows this technique in action:

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´╗┐Efficient Real-time Subsurface Scattering

Friday, January 9th, 2004

A crucial aspect of realistically modelling the interactions between light and participating media is subsurface scattering. This process takes into account the subsurface characteristics of absorbed light, with respect to the microfaceted absorptive and reflective properties of a material. The most recognizable visual result of this process is translucency.


This post describes a very simple technique for simulating the effect of subsurface scattering for use at interactive frame rates inside a game engine. While not a robust solution, if it happens to fit your needs it can be cheap and effective.

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