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Stereoscopic 3D

By March 6, 2010March 24th, 2020Guides

Stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) is the ability to display visible depth through two dimensional media. S-3D is a huge breakthrough in videogame technology because it adds an intense immersion and thrill to an otherwise ordinary game.

Imagine a spear protruding from your monitor glass, or a ghost flying through your screen – this is the excitement that games have missed out on until now.

You are able to process depth by taking individual images from each of your eyes, and forming a single three dimensional picture in your brain. If you wink one eye at a time, you should see two distinct perspectives. It is the difference between the two images that translate into the 3D result.

Looking at your existing 2D monitor, the question remains, how can a videogame mimic this volumetric depth if it is completely flat?

The majority of video games are already rendered in three dimensions through programming standards like DirectX and OpenGL. It’s the media that determines whether the game is seen in 2D or 3D.

There are two components needed to accomplish a stereoscopic 3D result:

  1. A hardware solution that somehow filters a unique image for each of your eyes.
  2. A software driver to take the game’s visual information and translate it into two distinct left and right eyed views.

1. Stereoscopic Hardware Solutions

There are multiple hardware solutions on the market today. Here are some popular examples:

LCD Shutter Glasses

This technology is strictly for CRT or tube based monitors.

The 3D software quickly alternates two images on your monitor screen for each eye, and in perfect sync, the glasses alternately flash their LCD panels to black (on) or clear (off).

The end result is each eye gets a unique image, and your game is in 3D.

Head Mounted Displays (HMD)

This technology works on the premise that each eye gets a distinct image by putting a small LCD panel directly in front of each eye.


One or two projectors display alternating images on a silver screen.

Using polarized lenses or LCD shutter glasses, the images are filtered to each eye, and you get a 3D result.

Autostereoscopic Monitors

These monitors stack two LCD panels together in a single monitor casing.

The light from the monitor is projected in two directions, and when seated in a fixed position, each eye gets a distinct image.

Polarized Monitors

By combining two LCD panels on a single screen, the images are filtered to each eye via polarized lenses and glasses.

You can learn about the advantages and challenges of each solution through our Meant to be Seen user forums.

2. Stereoscopic Software Solutions

At this time, the stereoscopic driver of choice is the NVIDIA stereoscopic driver. It supports the majority of NVIDIA branded graphics cards, and is designed to work with most S-3D hardware solutions.

It works by intercepting DirectX and OpenGL programming calls, and translates the virtual 3D information into a practical stereoscopic result.

The majority of games work to some degree, but there are a huge number problems and incompatibilities which will only be solved when game developers program their software with a stereoscopic mindset.

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