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Digital 3D

Digital 3D is a non-specific 3D standard in which films, television shows, and video games are presented and shot in digital 3D technology or later processed in digital post-production to add a 3D effect.

One of the first studios to use digital 3D was Walt Disney Pictures. In promoting their first CGI animated film Chicken Little, they trademarked the phrase Disney Digital 3-D and teamed up with RealD in order to present the film in 3D in the United States. A total of over 62 theaters in the US were retrofitted to use the RealD Cinema system. Even though some critics and fans were skeptical about digital 3D, it has gained in popularity. Now there are several competing digital 3D formats including Dolby 3D, XpanD 3D, Panavision 3D, MasterImage 3D and IMAX 3D. The first home video game console to be capable of 3D was the Sega Master System in which a limited number of titles were capable of delivering 3D.



A first wave of 3D film production began in 1952 with the release of Bwana Devil and continued until 1955, a period known as the golden era of 3D film. Polarized 3D glasses were used. It was among several gimmicks used by movie studios (such as Cinerama and Cinemascope) to compete with television. A further brief period of 3D movie production occurred in the early 1980s.

After announcing that Home on the Range would be their last hand drawn feature and in fear that Pixar would not re-sign for a new distribution deal, Disney went to work on Chicken Little. The RealD company suggested that Disney use their 3D system and after looking at test footage Disney decided to proceed. In 2005, Chicken Little was a success at the box office in both 2D and 3D screenings. Two more films followed in their classic feature animation - Meet the Robinsons and Bolt - along with several others. Since then many film studios have shot and released films in several digital 3D formats. In 2010, Avatar became the first feature film shot in digital 3D to win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and was also the first feature film shot using 3D technology nominated for Best Picture.

2D to 3D conversion

In the case of 2D films that were generated from 3D models (as with CGI animated films), it is possible to return to the models to generate a 3D version.

For other 2D films, different techniques must be employed. For example, for the 3D re-release of the 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas, Walt Disney Pictures scanned each original frame and manipulated them to produce left-eye and right-eye versions. Dozens of films have now been converted from 2D to 3D. There are several approaches used for 2D to 3D conversion, most notably depth-based methods. [1]


The standard for shooting live-action films in 3D involves using two cameras mounted so that their lenses are about as far apart from each other as the average pair of human eyes, recording two separate images for both the left eye and the right eye. In principle, two normal 2D cameras could be put side-to-side but this is problematic in many ways. The only real option is to invest in new stereoscopic cameras. Moreover, some cinematographic tricks that are simple with a 2D camera become impossible when filming in 3D. This means those otherwise cheap tricks need to be replaced by expensive CGI. [2]

In 2008, Journey to the Center of the Earth became the first live-action feature film to be shot with the earliest Fusion Camera System released in Digital 3D. This film was later followed with several other films shot in Live-action. The 2009 release of Avatar was shot in a 3D process that is based on how the human eye looks at an image. It was an improvement to a currently existing 3D camera system. Many 3D camera rigs still in use simply pair two cameras side by side, while newer rigs are paired with a beam splitter or both camera lens built into one unit. Digital Cinema cameras are not really required for 3D but are the predominant medium 99% of what is photographed. Film options include IMAX 3D and Cine 160.


CGI animated films can be rendered as stereoscopic 3D version by using two virtual cameras. Because the entire movie is basically a 3D model, it only takes twice the rendering time and a little effort to properly set up stereoscopic views.

In 2004 The Polar Express was the first stereoscopic 3D computer animated feature film. In November 2005, Walt Disney Studio Entertainment released Chicken Little in digital 3D format. The first 3D feature by DreamWorks Animation Monsters vs Aliens followed in 2009 and used a new digital rendering process called InTru3D which is a process developed by Intel to create more realistic 3D images despite the fact that they are animated. InTru3D is not a way that films are exhibited in theaters in 3D, the films created in this process are seen in either RealD 3D or IMAX 3D.

Video games

In June 1986, Sega released the Sega Master System, part of the third generation of gaming consoles. The system had a card slot that provided power to a single pair of LCD shutter glasses, allowing certain games to be viewed in 3D; however, only 8 3D-compatible games were ever released, and when the system was redesigned in 1990 in order to cut down on manufacturing costs, it lost the ability to support 3D. It was the first known electronic device released in North America to use LCD shutter glasses.

In July 1995, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy, built around a 3D viewer held closely to users' eyes, acting like a pair of goggles. Both left and right eye images were red, and put strain on players' eyes; the system was a failure and was discontinued the following year. In December 2008, several third party developers for the PlayStation 3 announced they would work toward bringing Stereoscopic 3D gaming to major gaming consoles using their own technology. In the coming months, both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 will be capable of 3D imaging via 3D TV and system/hardware updates. On June 15, 2010 at the E3 Expo, Nintendo unveiled the Nintendo 3DS, the successor to the Nintendo DS series of handheld consoles. It is the first gaming console to allow 3D viewing without the need for 3D glasses or an equivalent.

Home Media


After the unexpected box office success of Avatar and a record number of 20 3D films released in 2009, TV manufactures saw the demand for 3DTVs go up dramatically and went further into research and development. Samsung launched the first 3D TV in February 2010. Each TV manufacturer would make their own 3D glasses. Samsung released a 3D starter kit which included the purchase of 3 items with a discount at select retailers; the starter kit would include a Samsung model 3D TV, a Samsung brand 3D-capable Blu-ray player, and a box with two pairs of Samsung brand 3D glasses which included an exclusive 3D Blu-ray edition of Monsters vs. Aliens. Specifications for 3D also include the HDMI 1.4a standards. Some of these TVs can also convert 2D into 3D, but such features are limited as to how much depth can be generated. In June 2010 Panasonic announced Coraline and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs as bonus 3D Blu-ray titles with the purchase of any of their 3DTVs. On June 22, 2010, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs became the first 3D Blu-ray title to be released without any requirements to buy any new electronic hardware but free copies of this title will be included in 3D entertainment packages by Sony. In 2010 the only option was active shutter glasses and in 2011, TV manufacturers notably LG and Vizio will offer passive circular polarized glasses in mid to late 2011 as well as Sony to offer glasses free technology for 3D content.

Home Video

Several DVD and Blu-ray releases have already tried their hands at releasing the 3D versions of films by using an anaglyph format. One noted release prior to the advent of digital cinema is the 1982 film Friday the 13th: Part 3 in 3D, but other such films actually shot digitally like Coraline were released on DVD and Blu-ray. Both included 2D and 3D versions and both were packaged with pairs of 3D glasses. The Blu-ray Association ordered a new standard for presenting 3D content on Blu-ray that would also be Backwards Compatible with all 2D displays. In December 2009, it was announced that they had adopted the Multiview Video Codec, which would be playable in all Blu-ray disc players even if they could not generate a 3D image. The codec contains information that is readable on a 2D output plus additional information that can only be read on a 3D output and display.


In 2008, the BBC broadcast the world's first live sporting event in 3D, transmitting an England vs. Scotland rugby match to a London cinema.[3] On April 3, 2010, Sky TV broadcast a Chelsea vs. Manchester United match to around 1,000 pubs in the U.K.[4] ESPN 3D launched on June 11, 2010. On July 1, 2010, N3D became the world's first 24-hour 3D channel. 25 matches of in the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament were broadcast in 3D.[5]

See also

  • List of 3D films
  • 3D Film
  • 2D to 3D conversion
  • 2D-plus-Depth
  • Panavision 3D
  • MasterImage 3D
  • RealD Cinema by RealD Inc.
  • List of Blu-ray 3D releases
  • List of 3D video games


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