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5:32pm on Friday, 19th January, 2007:

3D from 2D


I've mentioned before that I like to take 3D photographs. After all, I can see things in 3D in real life, so why shouldn't I take 3D photographs of them?

What if I don't see things in 3D, though? What if the scenes are 3D, but I only get to see them in 2D?

This is what happens in graphical virtual worlds. They model the environment in 3D (well, in 2D planes strung together to look like they're solids), but when they show up on your screen they're only 2D because the screen is only 2D. Amazingly, this doesn't mean you can't take 3D photographs of them, though, using the same techniques as for 3D in real life. You end up with a stereoscopic image that, when you cross your eyes just right and look at it, is in proper 3D.

Here's are a couple of examples from (yeah, I know) World of Warcraft:

Blackrock Spire. Stereoscopic version. Movement version.
Eastern Plaguelands. Stereoscopic version. Movement version.

Interestingly, the BRS movement version gives better 3D than the stereoscopic version, but it's the other way round with EPL. In both cases, the size of the picture is bigger for the movement version as there's no eye-crossing involved — I could have done a full-size screen if I'd wanted. However, because I'm using a .gif rather than a .avi (to save on disc space), there are only 8 bits of colour rather than the 24 bits of the stereoscopic images.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).