I can see clearly now
Saturday 09 May 1998
Then suddenly, movies, television and computer screens arrived, managing to render millions of years of evolution redundant and returning us to a two-dimensional world. People have quite rightly felt that something important was taken away from them, and so giving a third dimension to cinema and computer screens has long been something of a holy grail. We all know the lengths the industry has gone to; remember the red and green glasses we were supposed to wear in an attempt to fool ourselves that this indeed could be a three-dimensional medium?
Computer and television screens are trickier prospects; the red/green filter trick can work, but it's never been anything more than a gimmick. There was also a time when cinemas tried to use polarised lenses to pull off the same trick, but that just doesn't work on computer screens because you can't polarise light coming off them.
I should point out that I'm not talking about virtual reality and 3D environments on the Web, which are essentially different ways to overcome the same limitations but which by no means give an illusion of depth.
Computers were entirely responsible for the next big 3D gimmick: "Magic Eye" stereograms. You probably remember the craze from about five years ago when they briefly deposed Take That from adolescents' bedroom walls, with images of spheres, cones, the Statue of Liberty and even, if I remember correctly, a sabre-tooth tiger.
There's a site listed below that goes into detail about how they work; but essentially one saw a slightly blurry but indisputably 3D image. You can still pick them up for a few quid from poster sellers on street corners and markets.
There's a stereogram on this page that I constructed from a program downloaded from the Net, just in case you'd forgotten what they're like. There are a number of programs around for doing this; they let you render a greyscale image into a stereogram so that the darker the area on the image, the further away it appears to the viewer.
People on the Web have also made other attempts to overcome the limitations of computer screens. Ray's web page has 3D versions of his holiday snaps. They take a little time to get your eyes round it but they're worth a look.
One thing, however, is clear: we're not much closer to three-dimensional screens than we were, say, 10 years ago. But at least we can console ourselves with the fact that when the time does come, Microsoft won't try to sell us some new piece of equipment - we were all born with two eyes. And with the stuff you'll find around at the moment, the worst that can really happen is that you'll end up with the mother of all migranes.
An essay on the principles of stereograms and how to go about making them.
Download "3D Dots", a stereogram maker for Macs
Ray's web page: 3D holiday snaps and home movies
Life & Style blogs
iPhone 7 (or iPhone 6S) leaked pictures show similarities to older model — but Apple is fixing the biggest issue of all
People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
Google has set its terrifying, dreaming image robots on the public
The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 3 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 4 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 5 Baby rescued 1km out to sea after parents forgot about her
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...