Category Archives: 3D

Is there a secret problem with depth maps?

It sounds like a great idea to utilize a depth map to extract information and control the depth depicted in an image or series of images. It sounds great for converting a 2D image into a 3D image. It sounds like a great tool for plenoptic cameras to interpolate the data into imagery with depth. Alpha channels are great to use for transparency mapping – so a depth map should be equally useful, shouldn’t it?

Take a look at this depth map:

icedepthmapThis is a depth map created from a plenoptic camera shot of a bunch of ice bits. It is a grayscale image with 256 shades of gray to depict the parts of the ice that are closer to the camera and the parts of the ice that are farther away from the camera. This information is used to adjust the depth of those bits that are closer and farther away by stretching or compressing pixels.

Now check out a rocking animation that uses motion parallax to depict the depth (items closer to you appear to move differently than items that are farther away).


Right away you can notice a few errors in the depth map, and for complex images this is typical and can be edited and “corrected”. But there is something else. Take a close look at the parts of the image where the depth map is seemingly correct. Sure, you can see the depth but does it really look like ice? If you are like me, the answer is no. Ice reflects and scatters light in a way that is unique for each perspective. Indeed, there IS binocular rivalry where one eye sees light reflection and distortion that is not present in the other eye’s perspective. This disparity tells us something about the texture and makeup of what we are looking at. Stretching or compressing pixels eliminates this information and only provides depth cues relating to the spatial position of things. For most people, I suspect it is reasonable to assume that this creates a perception conflict in their brains. There is something perceptually wrong with the image above. It does not look like ice because the light coming off of the two perspectives looks the same. A depth map does not provide information regarding binocular rivalry and creates errors as a result. Errors that can’t be fixed. Herein you see the flaw in using a depth map. It throws away all of the binocular rivalry information. In other words, it throws away the information between perspectives that is different.

In my opinion, depth maps take the life out of an image. It removes important texture information which, I believe, is gleaned from how light shifts and changes and appears and disappears as you alter perspective.

This is the secret fundamental flaw with depth maps. Now you can subjectively look at the image above and deem it to be cool and otherwise amazing. That is all good and well, but the truth is that, compared with looking at the real ice, it is fundamentally lacking and does not depict what is seen when you look at the ice in real life.

So, people ask themselves if this is important and some will say yes and some will say no. And there are many examples where you could argue both points of view. I don’t have an argument with that. My position is only to point out that this flaw exists and it should not be ignored.

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Filed under 1, 3D, 3D Photography, autostereoscopic, S3D, stereopsis, stereovision

New theory about stereo vision, 3D, stereopsis, binocular vision and depth perception

It might be time to expand the way we think of human visual perception.  What we “see” is a construct of our brain and how it processes the stream of data that is input from our senses. The vast amount of raw data that our brains receive from our eyes, set aside the data from our other senses for now, is not something that we typically think about. We open our eyes and see stuff.  We’ve spent a lot of time learning about the parts of the eye and the mechanics, but I’m not sure that teaches us very much about “seeing”.

Understanding computers gives us a new way to think about this, specifically the converting of data (the signals our eyes send to the brain) into conscious perception. We aren’t born with all of the “software” needed to perceive the signals coming from our eyes. “Software” is created over time as the brain interprets and learns cause and effect through experience. I believe the brain never stops tweaking that processing and makes all sorts of modifications in the same way that computer software has upgrades that provide desirable new features and ease of use functions and performance enhancements and so on.

What we see and how we perceive what we see is a function of the snapshot in time of the current version of our vision “software”. Maybe that’s a radical idea, but there is anecdotal evidence that this might be true. I became aware of it when I noticed that each time I looked at a 3D image of an African tribal mask that it looked different from what I remembered. It was the same picture, it had not changed but how I perceived the image did change.

The weird thing about the image of the mask was that I did not have the same reaction to a 2D image of it. The 2D image always looked the same. The 3D image always looked slightly different. In my experience, my brain seems to be much more aggressive at tweaking how I perceive images with depth than it is when I look at flat images.

Having said that, it isn’t noticeable for all 3D images. Images that are life size or larger than life size and ones that I have some level of interest in seem to change in a more noticeable way. I’m curious if other 3D enthusiasts have experienced this.

I think it might be more pronounced with a 3D image because it is an illusion with perception conflicts that the brain must reconcile in some way.

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Filed under 3D, Perception Conflicts, stereopsis

Amped 360: Featured Attraction At Boston Tattoo Convention



The standard for tattoo imagery is about to change and Almont Green is out to change it. Coming to the Boston Tattoo Convention, rotational imagery display systems and do it yourself training will be part of a huge AMPED3D exhibit at the show. A fifty camera AMPED 360 array will be set up to capture tattoo images for rotation in addition to information on how rotational images can be created using a single camera and uploaded to the website for display on Facebook and easily embedded within websites. Giant hologram type AMPED3D images will also be on display at the show and available for purchase.  “Right now galleries across the globe are still using photo albums to display 2-dimensional images of their 3 dimensional artwork. With 3D and 360 degree rotational imagery now available, it’s a natural next step in the evolution of tattoo imagery to use smartphones, tablets and display systems to take portfolios to the next level. “– Almont Green,

Click and drag to rotate (or swipe with finger) to see the effect! 

One innovative tattoo business, “Visions Tattoo & Piercing” of Medway, MA already understands the importance of this concept and will be displaying their work on a custom designed rotational monitor system at their booth. “We want both new and existing customers to be able to see our work the way it was meant to be viewed.”- Canman, Visions Owner & Artist

During the show rotational image display systems, training programs and rotational image web hosting options will be available for purchase.  Amazing hologram like AMPED 3D images will also be on display at the event and available for sale at special pricing.





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Amped 3D images are images you can see into. Amped3D photography, created by the artist Almont Green, is accomplished using a unique combination of complex camera hardware, sophisticated proprietary software, materials and painstaking manufacturing techniques. Digital images are precision aligned, processed, and printed with a modified high-resolution printer with each perspective occupying a vertical strip 1/2000th of an inch wide. An amazing, world’s highest resolution 30″x30″ human skull image that comes right out of the frame will be on display and available for purchase.

The result of years of work, Almont Green developed AMPED 3D photography with the help of neuroscientists, brain research centers, vision experts and leading technologists. The images simply must be seen in person to be believed!

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Filed under 1, 3D, 3D Photography, autostereoscopic

A Day With Sue Barry…

I had an incredible day with neuroscientist Sue Barry, author of “Fixing My Gaze”. She has a very unique insight on seeing with stereovision — she didn’t acquire it until her late 40’s.  Her perspective and understanding provides a lot of insight into what the rest of us take for granted.  Here is a snippit of what she had to say, looking at my AMPED 3D tattoo images.

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Filed under 3D, 3D Photography

Seeing With The Brain.

Common sense tells us that we see with our eyes. Afterall, when we close our eyes we stop seeing. Right?

Well, when you think for a minute you realize that’s not true. There is this thing called the mind’s eye and dreaming and envisioning, etc. Truth is, the eyes are little more than data acquisition devices that feed the brain with information. Actually, to be more precise; the eyes stream flawed data to the brain with tons of errors and giant missing pieces of data.

The amount of processing the brain performs to make vision possible is staggering. Scientists have written that up to 1/4 of the entire brain is involved in vision processing and interpretation. How we see and what we see is influenced by everything we have seen before. It is also influenced by what we hear, what we smell, what we taste and what we touch. Don’t believe it? Well, science proves it. One example, off the top of my head, was demonstrated at an audio engineering society convention in New York City many years ago. There were rooms with different resolution video monitors and different speaker systems. As it turned out, the room deemed to have the highest video quality was not the one with the best video monitor, but the one with the best sound system.

Much of the time what we think we see really doesn’t match with reality. Much of what we see doesn’t even make it out of our subconscious. So, when 3D cinematographers obsess over camera spacing (inter-axial distance) and convergence and depth of field as it relates to eye geometry, they are misguided in my humble opinion. The brain is not limited to the geometry of the eye, or it’s limitations. If it was, we would have two big black circles where the eye has no receptors (where the optic nerve is connected).

Indeed, how we see and what we see varies greatly from person to person. Then, there are people with eye problems and vision impariment. People that can’t fuse and have double vision.  Who’s to say that in a room filled with 99 people who have strabismus and one person who can see with stereopsis that the people with strabismus wouldn’t be “normal” given that they represented the majority?

How the majority of people see is the result of evolution and natural selection. Human vision is not the best of what nature can create. There are examples of eyes that are superior to human eyes in terms of clarity, detail, color, focus, etc. In the near future, there will be machine to biological connections that might enhance or even replace our eyes with superior devices.

My point to this rambling is that it is a mistake to limit the way multi perspective imagery is created to analytics based solely on eye geometry and how the eyes work. As I begin my research into analyzing the brain and how it responds to multi perspective imagery, I hope that there are discoveries that enlighten and enrich our perception of the space between things and the importance of textures and reflective properties to the interpretation of the world around us.

There is more to it than this:


Filed under 3D, Perception Conflicts, stereopsis, stereovision, strabismus

The Growing 3D Backlash / 10 Problems…

Anyone who doesn’t appreciate the negative sentiment regarding 3D has their head in the sand. The main issues regarding negativism in no particular order are:

1.) Some people can’t see 3D at all. They have lazy eye or strabismus or some other vision problem. Maybe as much as 15% of the population have difficulty with 3D or can’t see it at all.

2.) Some people have difficulty seeing 3D – especially BAD 3D that forces the viewer to cross or align their eyes in an atypical manner. They leave the theater with a headache or eyestrain. (This percentage of the population is likely higher than 15%)

3.) The “3D” aspect to the movie is purely gratuitous with poke you in the eye visuals that have nothing to do with anything. The addition of 3D does not make the movie “better”.

4.) Wearing glasses, especially wearing glasses OVER glasses is a drag. Plus, it is a good possibility that the glasses are damaged or scuffed or dirty and in many cases very uncomfortable to wear.

6.) Poorly calibrated projectors and an overly dark image, in many cases, diminish the experience.

7.) FAKE 3D! There is simply no technology that makes it possible to create “perfect” 2D to 3D conversion. The overwhelming majority of conversions are just plain bad. Ask yourself this: if part of the image is obscured by something in front of it, how can you magically make it appear? You can’t. You have to fake it and create an approximation of what you think it probably looked like. Outside of some major production like Star Wars with huge budgets for conversion, do you really think the money will be spent to do a first rate conversion job?

8.) 3DTV. There are so many problems. TV size and glasses and available content and different standards with varying quality and now the “promise” of no-glasses 3DTV “coming soon” just to confuse people about what might be available and that there might be some simple upgrade to their existing set.

9.) Speaking of 3DTV… the hype over sports is a FAIL. Content producers are ignoring consumer complaints about the players looking like “dolls” or “chess pieces”. The 3D is typically unnatural with depictions that subliminally suggest the viewer has a giant head.

10.) Poor content. 3D should be an equal production component to the whole program. How much depth and how it is depicted is hugely important. Stability between left and right views is hugely important. Evaluation through eyetracking the length of time a scene should remain on screen is hugely important. Imagery breaking frame out of context and jump cuts to different perspective and depth relationships are all bad ideas. Producers should ask themselves: “why should this scene be in 3D?” and then go about the details based upon the answer to that question.

Enough with the “Avatar this” and “Avatar that”. What worked for Avatar doesn’t guarantee that the 3D moniker has any value. There is something special that happens when people see with stereopsis and fuse two perspectives into a single perspective with depth. Things take on a realness quality that needs to make sense in the context of 3D imagery. Stereopsis takes up a huge portion of the brain’s processing and most oversimplify the complexity to an enormous degree.  The fact that the brain can take a crude approximation of two perspectives and interpret it to something that can be perceived with depth is a quantum demonstration of the brain’s plasticity to make sense out of imperfect visual input.

I am spending a great deal of time looking under the hood to understand what the brain is doing when it processes multi perspective input. Without this understanding and appreciation of the problems, there is a distinct possibility that the push back against 3D could grow and severely limit its success. This would be very unfortunately because 3D has astonishing potential to visually engage and inspire and change people’s lives in terms of expanding the human experience of what can be perceived.


Filed under 3D

Five Useful Tips For 3D Motion Picture Makers

First, to be honest I’ve given a lot of thought to giving up my multi perspective work for two perspective cinematography. Schlepping around a dozen or more cameras does get tiresome at times and the thought of only two… Naw, on second thought multi perspective is in my blood. But a little two camera work here and there makes for a nice diversion!

For those of you making 3D motion pictures, I have five tips for you to think about.

Tip One
Eye tracking research shows that for any given scene, your audience has a lot more to look at and notice in 3D than they do with 2D. Especially when you have a larger depth of field people scan the background looking for things. Camera movement will emphasize objects behind the main object of interest especially if they have some amount of dimensionality like cars or boxes or people. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry. Linger about three times longer for a given scene than you would when shooting 2D. Your audience will appreciate it. Fast cuts are very disconcerting for 3D audiences. It is like yanking away a toy from a child before they are done looking at it. It doesn’t make them happy!

Tip Two
Don’t shake the camera. Spatial reality is MUCH stronger with 3D than with 2D and if your visual world is shaking and your body (specifically your inner ear) isn’t, then your audience will get queasy and might even puke! Forget about those Star Trek scenes with camera shake in 3D — unless you really WANT to make your audience sick. If you MUST shake the camera, make it very quick and follow up with a scene with ZERO camera movement.

Tip Three
Glide the camera left to right if the shot goes from a higher perspective to a lower perspective and glide the camera right to left if shooting from a lower perspective to a higher perspective.  The brain responds better to clockwise motions, especially in 3D. A gliding motion adds motion parallax cues that heighten the 3D experience and help to offset conflicting 3D cues such as accommodation/vergence decoupling. (Don’t believe me? Ask any neuroscientist.)

Tip Four
Avoid crushed blacks and blown out whites. While artistic and cool when used for 2D work, you end up creating false context for 3D imagery. In the real world, our pupils change size to accommodate luminance changes. We don’t normally see crushed blacks or blown out whites and it wrecks havoc with maintaining binocular disparity and good vision fusion. It can be a great effect for 2D but it is not so great for 3D.

Tip Five
Keep your lenses CLEAN! Dust or moisture on one lens and not on the other lens or Dust on both lenses creates false binocular rivalry. This is a terrible thing to deal with in post and can ruin the whole shoot!  Have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) when it comes to keeping your lenses in pristine condition. At times, the effect can go unnoticed initially. It is a danger that lurks in the shadows that can bite you in the rear end with a vengeance!

If you like these tips, or if you don’t like these tips, let me know! I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


Filed under 3D, binocular rivalry