Proving that the future is right now, Fujifilm has announced the development of a new 3D digital camera technology that could prove to be a big hit, or at least the next popular gimmick. Although only at the design concept stage at the moment, the Real 3D system utilises already existing technology, and actual products could be in the shops soon.
There are two related technologies that make up the system. The first is the camera, which uses two horizontally-separated lenses roughly the same distance apart as human eyes, to shoot a pair of simultaneous stereoscopic images. These are then processed by the newly-developed RP Processor 3D into a special image format which can be viewed on either the camera’s own monitor, a special 3D image viewer available separately, or printed using a special 3D printer.
The screens of both the monitor and the viewer, and the surface of the printed photo, have a surface layer consisting of parallel rows of Fresnel-type lenses, which trick the eye into thinking that different parts of the image are at different distances, without the need for special glasses or flickering screens. The resulting illusion of depth is quite convincing.
Similar systems have been used before, however they have only been viewable from quite a narrow angle in front of the screen. The breakthrough for the Real 3D system is that the angle of view is much wider than before allowing several viewers to experience the 3D effect simultaneously. The Real 3D processor in both the camera and the viewer is also fast enough to shoot and display 3D movie clips.
To make the new technology even more attractive, the twin-lens camera design is planned to have extra several 2D features, such as the ability to shoot two images at different zoom settings, or with different image style settings simultaneously, or to shoot two wide-angle shots and automatically stitch them together into a super-wide panorama, although it’s hard to see how this latter effect would work in practice, since one has to assume that the two lenses would need to have overlapping fields of view in order for the 3D imaging to work.
Unfortunately the available press material is limited to a fact-free press release, a PDF brochure with about 250 words of rather breathless marketing blurb, and what may be the most unintentionally hilarious promotional movie ever made, with sound effects taken from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and numerous stock images, mostly of attractive young women in mildly pornographic expressions of surprise and delight. Once I’ve stopped giggling I’ll try to cajole some more useful information out of Fuji.