Context: Stereoscopic 3D movies are gaining rapid acceptance commercially. In addition our previous experience
with the short 3D movie "Cosmic Cookery" showed that there is great public interest in the presentation of
cosmology research using this medium.
Objective: The objective of the work reported in this paper was to create a three-dimensional stereoscopic
movie describing the life of the Milky way galaxy. This was a technical and artistic exercise to take observed and
simulated data from leading scientists and produce a short (six minute) movie that describes how the Milky Way
was created and what happens in its future. The initial target audience was the visitors to the Royal Society's
2009 Summer Science Exhibition in central London, UK. The movie is also intended to become a presentation
tool for scientists and educators following the exhibition.
Apparatus: The presentation and playback systems used consisted of off-the shelf devices and software. The
display platform for the Royal Society presentation was a RealD LP Pro switch used with a DLP projector to
rear project a 4 metre diagonal image. The LP Pro enables the use of cheap disposable linearly polarising glasses
so that the high turnover rate of the audience (every ten minutes at peak times) could be sustained without
needing delays to clean the glasses. The playback system was a high speed PC with an external 8Tb RAID
driving the projectors at 30Hz per eye, the Lightspeed DepthQ software was used to decode and generate the
Results: A wide range of tools were used to render the image sequences, ranging from commercial to custom
software. Each tool was able to produce a stream of 1080p images in stereo at 30fps. None of the rendering
tools used allowed precise calibration of the stereo effect at render time and therefore all sequences were tuned
extensively in a trial and error process until the stereo effect was acceptable and supported a comfortable viewing
Conclusion: We conclude that it is feasible to produce high quality 3D movies using off-the shelf equipment
if care is taken to control the stereoscopic quality throughout the production process.
Nick Holliman, Nick Holliman,
"Cosmic origins: experiences making a stereoscopic 3D movie", Proc. SPIE 7524, Stereoscopic Displays and Applications XXI, 75240C (23 February 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.840957; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.840957