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 Why do my 3D screenshots have very little depth to them? 
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Cross Eyed!

Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:13 pm
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So I've been dealing with this issue for years, 3D screenshots (taken using the standard NVidia Alt + F1 method) all come out extremely flat looking. Very little depth overall, and objects look like cardboard cutouts. Especially annoying since I like to post up a couple screenshots with each of my fixes to showcase how the game looks, but with so little depth it's almost a hindrance to do so. I've tried changing my screenshot quality setting, using the monitor size depth hack, and even across different Windows installations. Thing is, I'm almost certain it wasn't always like this, pretty sure in the beginning of my days of making fixes that my shots were coming out ok, it's just after a certain point things started going flat and I'm not entirely certain why. I've just put up with this for so long now, but figured I'd finally ask and see if anyone can make any suggestions to fix this. Anyone?


Sun Oct 06, 2019 2:13 pm
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Two Eyed Hopeful

Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:22 am
Posts: 96
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Pretty sure this is because of your output display type.

There was a long thread on the old forums where we discussed the perceived depth of shots that we were sharing on the forums, and had multiple examples from different users. (Now all lost of course because NVidia destroyed all links and attached files, because they are all corporate assholes and have no respect for history or community.)

IIRC, this discussion was around Crysis2. (If you can dig up that thread, I can provide links to the files I used, because I used bo3b.net, not embedded images.)


The basic problem is that the output display you are using affects the image that you are sharing. If it looks good on your monitor, it might very well look terrible on a projector, or when you do cross eye viewing. This makes sharing images kind of problematic, because it depends upon the viewer's hardware too.

The same problems exists for 3D movies. They have them set to a low separation value because they don't want to induce eyestrain on the lowest common denominator, which means if you watch them on something small like a monitor, the separation between eyes will be too small, making it look like very low depth.

On the monitor, for a practiced user, you are going to have something like 60mm difference between the images, because that's about your IPD, and give the best result when playing.

If you now project that to the wall using a projector or something like HelixVision, you have a massive screen, but with a smaller relative percentage of the display being separated. The 60mm on monitor is maybe 25% of a monitor horizontal. On a projector it's maybe 5% and won't match their IPD. The maximum separation at infinity should be equal to IPD to give full depth, whether projector or monitor. But that actual value in pixels will be different depending upon projector or monitor.

That relative lack of difference between the two outputs can manifest either as seeing something as really low depth, or by something cranked up so strong that your eyes cannot fuse the images, depending upon where screenshot is taken, and where it's viewed.


Fairly sure this is what you are seeing. But of course, could be bugs or some other bizarre settings, lots of moving parts.

Take a look at your screenshots using the NVidia viewer, on the same display where you created the screenshot. Using the same output. It should look just like you saw when playing.

If you use stereoscopic player, you can experiment with artificially forcing more separation, but it adds edge glitches because you see more volume that doesn't have any backing data. Like seeing stuff at far edge of screen, one eye has an image, the other has nothing. With HelixVision or other VR viewers, you can also artificially experiment with this by moving the screen further or nearer. It artificially changes the separation, because the actual mm separation is shrinking or growing.


Historically, I've always used projector to play, but monitor to do forum stuff and because of that my screen shots always look terrible because I take them on projector with cranked up separation, but that translates to not very much depth at all on the monitor in cross-eyed viewing.


Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:43 pm
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Cross Eyed!

Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:13 pm
Posts: 146
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Thanks for that detailed response.

So am I correct in interpreting that as no matter what you are playing on, if you are playing at a reasonable separation amount, your screenshots will always suffer as a result, and the only possible way to make the screenshots better would be to use the depth hack to simulate a much smaller screen (however to get decent screenshot results, you'd likely have to set the separation so high it would be painful to look at on your screen at the time)?

I suppose I could use the depth hack to set a much smaller screen and then only run at about 50% separation while playing, but then when I want to take a decent enough screenshot I can then increase the separation to 100, take the shot, and then set it back down to 50 and resume playing (just wouldn't really be able to get any decent action shots like that). Guess I'll give that a shot for the next fix I work on.


Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:11 am
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Two Eyed Hopeful

Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:22 am
Posts: 96
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No, actually I think that the screenshots should never suffer, and should be the same as what you see on screen. But there is a lot of complexity in the viewing of them that might make them seem worse.

Try the experiment of making a good screenshot of something you have set to your liking. Then play that screenshot back on the same system using NVidia Viewer. Experiment with looking at it full screen so that you get the same number of pixels and the same viewing experience. I'm saying that I expect the full screen view of a screenshot to be exactly the same as what you saw in-game.

If you view the screenshot in a smaller window- then you've changed the relative IPD for the screenshot to a smaller number. If the window is roughly half the width of your full screen, then the delta between left and right eye is now half what it was when you took the screenshot. I'm not sure if that translates to exactly 50% less depth, but probably.

Same thing holds true for cross-eye viewing. Since we typically cannot cross-eye view something full screen, we get less visual depth when using this technique.


I'm fairly sure that the playback viewing of a screen shot is going to be relative to how it was taken. And what percentage of the screen the delta between left and right.

For maximum depth, we need the delta between L/R to match our IPD, so that at infinity on the screen, it's the same as our IPD. This makes it match our visual perception and how our eyes work for looking at infinite distances. Anything less than that max won't be as much visual depth.

Our IPD is a fixed number, but our screens change. So on a projector, that same 64mm of delta between L/R might be 5% of the giant screen. On an up close screen like a 27" monitor, it might be like 25% of that screen.

Fairly sure the pixels count doesn't matter, but am not sure. If you take a screen shot on a 4K screen, it will be more pixels, but even played back on a 720p projctor, it will be the same relative % of screen as the image is scaled.


Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:26 pm
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One Eyed Hopeful
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Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:50 pm
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These are great information thank you. For years, I have not understood why some screen shots and videos are recorded with low depth. I just thought that the person who created the image recording, the distance of the eye dolls, was different from my eyes.

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Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:41 am
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One Eyed Hopeful
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Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:43 am
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I agree with bo3b.

bo3bber wrote:
Fairly sure the pixels count doesn't matter, but am not sure.


Resolution doesn't matter. However, something that matters when playing is horizontal aspect ratio. For example, 4:3 games have a lower maximum separation than 16:9 games (unless the left and right black bars are made by a shader, which was the case in one or two games I fixed).

Having a high absolute separation is better for fixing. It makes issues like clipping or culling a lot more easier to detect.


Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:44 pm
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