Is 3D Actually Three Dimensional?

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Posted on 10 September 2016

Take any real life solid 3D object. 
 
The reason why we can perceive it with the three dimensions: length, width and height, is because of a phenomenon called 'stereoscopy'. Our eyes have a stereoscopic vision.  
 
Stereoscopy is the use of two different images taken at the same time at slightly different angles to each other in order to give the impression of depth and solidity.  
 
A simple example to illustrate this phenomenon is to stretch out your thumb about 12-15 centimetres away from your eyes and view the thumb from both the eyes alternatively. Or, stand a couple of feet in front of your car, a tree or any structure or even in front your camera tripod and try doing the same. What you will see is a slightly different image with each eye. 

When viewing only with your left eye, your ray of vision tilts to the right extreme of the object. Conversely, when viewing with your right eye, the ray of vision tilts to the left extreme of the object. 

When viewing with both the eyes open, your brain constantly receives the two images and tries to process both of them at the same time. This gives no room for the brain to process the individual images from each eye, thus converging the rays of vision to the centre of the object.  
 
Every form of 3D technology that exists today exploits this ability of our eyes and the nervous system - either directly or indirectly, to produce a three dimensional illusion.
  
For example:  while watching a Red - Cyan 3D video (where you have to wear the red-cyan glasses), our left eye is covered with a red filter and the right eye is covered with a cyan filter. The video is shot with two different cameras kept at a small distance from each other. Clips shot from one camera consists only of the red channels (or colour layers of an image), and clips shot from the other camera consists only of the cyan-blue channels.
The left eye is forced to perceive the part of the clip that has been converted into a red layer and our right eye is forced to perceive the part of the clip that has been converted into a cyan layer over the original video.
 
The brain is constantly trying to figure out which image to process first - the red one or the blue-cyan one.
  
This gives the desired depth to a 3D video or a picture that we view and makes us perceive it in 3D. 
 
So the bottom line is, next time when you watch anything in 3D with your cool 3D glasses, remember - you are constantly fooling your brain. 

Thank you for reading

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