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What is stereoscopic 3D?


The stereoscopic 3D viewing experience is a key part of modern feature film production for cinema and an increasing consideration in commercial television and entertainment in the home. Today’s audiences – both young and old – expect stereoscopic imagery to be both well thought-out and flawlessly executed.

Stereoscopic 3D is an attempt to reproduce the process by which we see with our own eyes in order to produce a feeling of depth. When shooting a 3D image, two cameras are used to capture separate images of the same object from slightly different angles, but from one fixed viewpoint. When played back, the left image is seen only by the left eye and the right image by the right. The brain then works to combine the two images.

When working in 3D, it is often required to present the viewer with creative enhancements which make optimum use of the stereoscopic 3D effect, using techniques such as convergence adjustment and depth grading.

A number of stereoscopic-specific problems are encountered in production, such as vertical misalignment, focus mismatch and localised colour differences, which if uncorrected can make for a poor quality or an uncomfortable viewing experience. Artists converting 2D pictures to stereoscopic 3D also face many challenges to ensure that the final results maintain high picture quality, meet storytelling demands and deliver an enjoyable 3D experience.

Stereoscopic 3D production requires sophisticated tools that combine automation and fine level technical and creative adjustment. It is possible to make significant productivity gains where these tools integrate natively with the full flexibility of the core digital compositing production pipeline.

At The Foundry, we have a strong understanding of stereo and its challenges. Our core compositing tool NUKE has built-in stereo workflow which is used extensively across both animation and live action projects, while our OCULA toolset is widely used to help solve some of the most common post-production problems with live action stereo.


Which The Foundry products are used for stereoscopic 3D?

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Fully battle-tested in production, OCULA is a comprehensive stereo toolset designed to deliver a better stereoscopic-3D experience, solve common production problems and boost artist productivity. OCULA’s family of 14 plug-ins saves time in performing day-to-day tasks such as keying and tracking, which can become particularly cumbersome on uncorrected stereo footage, and is fully integrated with NUKE to provide a flexible, scalable workflow.

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Our core compositing tool NUKE provides a full stereo workflow, together with all the tools you need to convert standard 2D into stereo 3D. These include a number of stereo features built into its Read and Write nodes which make it easier to work with stereo pairs, together with RotoPaint tools to fix stereo images and a ReConverge tool for changing screen depth.


"I love the new disparity map algorithm in OCULA 3.0. We did tests using the depth map generated by OCULA to create digi-doubles of real live action in a CG snowstorm to allow the FX team to blow snow particles around the people to get the correct holdout mattes in z-depth. We created geo from footage without building animated digital doubles."
Mark van den Bergen, Senior Compositor - Stereo, Dr D Studios
"NUKE is a fantastic tool and crucial to our workflow at The Mill. It has a stellar set of features and in conjunction with OCULA, made working on our recent stereoscopic projects vastly more efficient, allowing us to focus on making the visuals shine, and making our clients happy."
Westley Sarokin, Joint Head of 2D, The Mill
"Right off the bat the results we're getting from OCULA 3.0 are truly amazing. This is a major step up from OCULA 2.2."
Jose Fernandez de Castro Heller, Senior Compositor, MPC Vancouver

Pixomondo deliver Academy Award winning Hugo VFX with NUKE, OCULA and MARI
© 2011 Paramount Pictures. Images courtesy of Pixomondo.
In Flight with NUKE, OCULA and MODO
© 2012 Paramount Pictures. Images courtesy of Atomic Fiction.
NUKE and OCULA deliver stellar performances on Avatar
© 2009 Fox. All rights reserved. Image courtesy of Weta Digital.
Dr D Studios use NUKE and OCULA on Happy Feet 2
Happy Feet 2. Warner Bros All Rights Reserved