Essex: Uni’s £396k grant will fund research into the science behind 3D movies

University of Essex Wivenhoe campus

University of Essex Wivenhoe campus - Credit: Archant

Scientists in Essex have been handed a huge £369,000 grant to fund research looking at how the brain responds to 3D film.

The experts at the University of Essex are hoping to get a better understanding of how the brain of someone wearing a special pair of glasses transforms a flat image on screen to a three-dimensional vision.

3D movie audiences experience a vivid awareness of three-dimensional objects and people because the glasses present two slightly different versions of the movie to the left and right eye.

The purpose of the three year research project at Essex, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is to determine how the brain is able to interpret the differences between what is seen by the two eyes.

Lead researcher and visual science specialist Dr Paul Hibbard said: “We know that a 3D understanding is achieved by neurons at the back of the brain responding to the different images from each eye to make a 3D model. What we don’t know, and are trying to understand, is how the neurons are achieving this.”

Advances in technology have transformed the 3D entertainment industry and designers of movies and virtual reality systems are keen to make their products as “real” as possible.

Dr Hibbard said the research could also prove important at helping the theoretical understanding of binocular vision, which could impact on developing successful therapies for conditions such as amblyopia and strabismus (“lazy eye” and “squint”) where binocular depth perception may be impaired or absent.

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The research will involve capturing 3D models of various natural materials using a laser scanner which will be fed into a computer, which will carry be programmed to respond like a human eye.