A new method of capturing 3D images is being developed to help create more realistic 3D images for movies, games, and TV. The new method uses two pictures captured by a camera, one with flash and one without. The images are then loaded onto a computer where software determines the depth of an object based on how much of a shadow difference is created between the two shots. Originally surfaces had to be scanned with a laser or other expensive equipment and then programmers had to adjust the depth of a surface by hand. This new method is almost 100% automatic and allows the programmer to scan surfaces in half the time. The only downside to this method is that it can not distinguish any items that might be in front of the surface, like a vine on a wall. The flash method takes the vine and integrates that into the surface instead of separating from the wall behind it. The Flash method is being tested out for a 3D movie called Maya Skies that is set to debut next year. Maya Skies is a 3D look at how the Mayan culture lived. The movie will be shown in a full-dome projection room that is being specially built for the movie. Maya Skies will also given to many planetariums to view.
[via New Scientist Tech]