How to capture decent 3D from a single lens

The entire entertainment industry sees 3D as the next big thing, but one issue holding it back is it's difficult to produce. Typically, you need to shoot footage with two different cameras (or at least two different lenses) simultaneously. Even with today's sophisticated systems, that's a tall order. But is there a way to get good 3D material from a single lens? One Canadian company says yes.

ISee3D, based in Toronto, has perfected a technology that can capture 3D footage with a single-lens system. It's conceptually simple: When you cover up one side of a camera lens, the focal point shifts slightly in the direction of the part still open; cover up the other side, and it shifts the other way. So what if you alternate covering up either side in rapid succession? You essentially end up shooting two images of the same subject, just slightly offset from each other — exactly what you need for 3D.

Company reps say the technology is a cheap and easy way to upgrade existing camera models to 3D, with the only tradeoff being decreased brightness (since less light enters the lens when half of it is covered up). In fact, ISee3D's method could be superior to other 3D tech when it comes to rapid motion and close-ups, which can be troublesome for dual-lens 3D systems. And the tech is inherently superior to Sony's single-lens 3D cameras, which create 3D via a software trick.

Seeing the technology in action, I found the effect to be as convincing as 3D material shot with dual-lens cameras. The demo involved a video camera with an ISee3D add-on in front of the lens, which provided the filtering. Real products, however, would have the tech built in.

What real products, and when will we see them? ISee3D is mum on details, but reps did say we should expect to see some announcements in January from some "major players" in the camera market. Guess we'll have to wait and, uh, behold what those are.

Via ISee3D

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