Back in the old days, before credit cards had chips, weirdo kids like me could sit and stare at shiny holographic eagles printed on the front of these cards. They were mesmerizing for the same reasons holographic 3 ring binders would mesmerize friends at school. These unusual, eye-catching illusions make flat surfaces appear textured, contoured, not flat. It is achieved by creating depth—the third dimension of 3D.
Though its novelty might suggest otherwise, 3D isn’t some new technology. As far back as the 1920s, motion pictures have been shown in stereoscopic 3D.
Source: widescreen movies
People wore glasses that worked like one of those View Masters you’d look at Taj Mahal with. While image clarity has improved, viewing 3D hasn’t changed much—it’s just more accessible. What’s changed, however, is the territory 3D can explore, like when this 1994 film crew jumped into the Pacific Ocean with a 250-pound camera assembly. Their aim? To create the authentic underwater experience.
Going Deep with Depth
The film was IMAX’s Into the Deep. It became their most successful production up to that point, exploring mind-bending unknowns on the ocean floor in dazzling 4K. Audiences gasped, squirmed, even jumped as glowing creatures of nightmares torpedoed directly at them, like the Jaws attack on Marty McFly.
So what’s so effective about 3D, and why can’t we get enough of it? Why, after the trend grows and shrinks, do we keep working for better 3D? The reason is depth—the crux of our lifelike vision. Without it, life becomes a course in Skate or Die, with movement restricted to up and down, left and right. It doesn’t work very well. Just try catching a baseball with one eye closed (just kidding, don’t do it).
Without depth, skyscrapers aren’t monuments of human achievement, just good camera angles. Skylines don’t tower over millions of people below, they’re just the tallest thing in view.
Adding the third dimension does more than complete the picture—it moves beyond spatial limits. But how could you explain or show that to someone else? 3D can only be experienced. Just look into an eyepiece, and voila! Depth is created—the skill painters spend lifetimes perfecting.
New Dimensions to Know
This is great news for those of us who aren’t James Cameron. 3D means we won’t be shelling out millions to get a look down the Mariana Trench. Depth will show the relative sizes and shapes of these alien creatures. And as 3D gets better, its images will come closer and closer to reality, so instead of having to imagine the ocean, we’ll be reaching down to grab handfuls of sand from its floor. The closer we get to a real experience, the more information we can draw from.
We’ll know more. We’ll have new colors for our creative pallet. This new frontier is the most exciting prospect of 3D’s future. As expected, the initial hardware for 3D is clunky. Most of the gear available needs a phone or a gaming computer to work. But if you’re looking for a little more freedom as you step into the next dimension, you may be interested in something like
As expected, the initial hardware for 3D is clunky. Most of the gear available needs a phone or a gaming computer to work. But if you’re looking for a little more freedom as you step into the next dimension, you may be interested in something like this.
See what you can do with 3D. Give yourself a new reality.