3D's taking off the glasses
Updated: Jan 10, 2021
One area that continues to evolve is that of dimensional/volumetric displays that display 3d or "holographic" content without the need for glasses.
Over the last few years I've worked regularly with Mactaggart & Mickel, the Glasgow based housebuilder, in delivering Stereo3D content for their amazing glasses free, or autostereoscopic, 3D monitor that plays promotional video content prominently in their reception areas.
In 2020 the latest commercial Stereo3D project I produced for Mactaggart & Mickel was a seven and a half minute 3D film covering their history over the last 95 years focusing on developments in each decade as well as associated historic events and inventions. The film was predominantly created using animated motion graphics using my custom After Effects Stereoscopic 3d rig. The film also featuring some clips from existing stereoscopic footage and existing 2D footage enhanced with stereo 3D overlaid info graphics. The effect was a perfect mix of depth into the screen along with some scenes where elements popped out of the screen for added effect.
Traditionally autostereoscopic naked eye 3d screens have suffered from a limited field of view, generally there is pretty much a narrow sweet spot but moving your head even marginally from side to side would easily break the 3d illusion. However this isn't the case with modern displays.
As is the case with many of these types of screens the technology has evolved over time such that the higher resolution (4K/8K) screens now have a wider field of view which delivers a much wider field of view and allows multiple viewers to view a good quality 3d view of the content. This improvement means that the hardware must either be fed with multiple left and right views to provide the range of visual coverage or technology must be deployed that can automatically generate these multiple views. Typically this is achieved with a 2D + Depth Map format, much the same technology as Facebook uses for it's 3D photo feature, albeit in video form it need to generate all the potential views required at 30frames per second - so a good deal of processing power is required.
And looking beyond these glasses free displays there are a number of very promising holographic 3d display technologies currently appearing on the marketplace. Looking Glass Factory's "Portrait" Holographic display was a massive success on Kickstarter last month delivering around a $1.7M pledge on a $36K goal! The LGF displays I've seen so far are quite amazing - viewing one is like looking at a hologram inside a glass box - the 3d object appears to actually be there.
Sony's new spatial reality display looks to be an even more exciting prospect with a mix of both the embedded holographic look of LGF but also the ability to pop right out of the screen as with more traditional 3D displays. Although it does sound somewhat like this uses eye tracking technology so the effect may again be limited to a single viewer.
Exciting times ahead for innovative display technologies. Perhaps 3D isn't quite dead just yet - maybe it's just taking off it's glasses for a little lie down.
Andrew Murchie is a filmmaker and creative technologist based in Edinburgh, Scotland specialising in virtual reality, augmented reality, stereoscopic 3d and a range of more traditional digital filmmaking skills. He has produced Stereoscopic 3D films,Virtual Reality films, livestreams & Augmented Reality experiences for clients including The Real Mary King's Close, Dynamic Earth & Social Enterprise UK.