Scientists advise filmmakers on perception of 3D images

Over the past 10 years 3D technology has become an increasingly popular tool in film and television production

Scientists at the University of Liverpool are providing training for North West filmmakers to enhance understanding of how the human brain processes the visual information in 3D film and television.

Researchers at the University’s Vision Laboratory at the School of Psychology are leading an industry workshop to demonstrate the common problems that filmmakers face in creating naturalistic 3D film images.  They will also discuss the scientific factors that need to be considered to ensure that the human visual system can easily process 3D images.

Study suggests that failure to mimic the visual system in 3D film has similar effects to the visual disturbances that accompany the toxic effects of alcohol, poison or motions of the inner ear that lead to seasickness.  Inappropriate camera alignments at the editing stage can also induce eyestrain by positioning images too close or too far apart within the line of sight, or scaling the size of objects incorrectly.

Dr Bernard Harper, 3D specialist at the University, explains: “3D film images are created using processes that attempt to mimic the binocular nature of human vision.  Each eye sees a slightly different two-dimensional image and the brain uses the difference to create a third dimension, which gives an image or object depth.  The human visual system, however, is highly complex and does not work in the same way as a film camera. A real understanding of how we view sizes, shapes, objects in motion and colour, is needed in order to help filmmakers create a natural image.”

Robert Black, 3D consultant from the University’s School of Psychology, added: “The technology to create 3D images has existed since the mid 1800s, but until recently it has been too expensive and complex to use on any large scale.  Over the past 10 years it has become an increasingly popular tool in film and television production, but it is still a relatively new experience for cinema audiences.  Research in this area is becoming important to filmmakers and we aim to make study into visual perception more widely available to the industry so that the skills and technology in producing 3D film can continue to improve.”

The industry training programme was established through a joint project between the School of Psychology and filmmaker Reg Sanders, who has recently launched 3D production company, Shoot3D.  The collaboration is supported by the North West Development Agency.

The ‘Broadcast and Digital 3D Production Workshop’ will take place on Friday, 18 June, at The City Works, Manchester.  For more information contact Natalie Bolton, Shoot3D, on 07747 803456.

Notes to editors:

1.  The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £98 million annually.

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