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3D Stereoscopic Vision, Binocular Depth Perception
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3D Viewing with Training Wheels
The "Dots" Method

Two dots (or other shapes) are sometimes put at the top of stereo images to be used as "training wheels" for free-viewing. Just as training wheels help you learn to find the proper balance on a bicycle, dots can help you learn proper "balance" in free-viewing. They help you figure out exactly where to aim your eyes. Also, at first, the dots are easier to do than a more complex stereo image.

Parallel Viewing with the Dots

Remember the Famous Frankfurter Experiment? The two dots are just like your two fingers in the Famous Frankfurter Experiment

The two dots form a stereo pair. When you 3D view them you will see three dots -- the middle dot will pop out in 3D.

  • Aim your eyes between the two dots. Look through the monitor and into the distance. Think X-ray vision! While aiming your eyes far into the distance, pay attention to what happens to the dots. You may see the two dots become three very easily. If that is the case, adjust to seeing 3D. Notice how your eyes feel and maintain the same feeling while you SLOWLY move your eyes downward to the center of the stereo picture.

  • If you see only two dots, you are probably looking at the dots themselves. Look through the dots. Try again. Aim your eyes between the dots and into the distance.

  • If you see four dots instead of three, you're almost there! Relax and aim your eyes further into the distance. Let your eyes drift outward and make the two middle dots slide towards each other until they merge or overlap. If you can't get the inside dots to move towards each other, you need to relax your eye muscles more. Look farther into the distance. Imagine you are looking at a sailboat way out on the ocean. Relax. Breathe.


Cross-Eyed Viewing with the Dots

Many kids master the skill of crossing their eyes in order to impress family or friends. Were you one of those kids? If so, cross-viewing is right up your alley. Cross-Viewing is also called Cross-eyed Viewing. It might feel like you're cross-eyed when you do this, but are you really? Well, not as much as those goofy kids.
  • You need to focus your eyes in front of the 3D image, so you'll use your finger to help you find the right place to aim (converge) your eyes. Bring your forefinger up about six inches in front of your nose. Focus both your eyes on your finger.

  • Still focusing on your finger, notice what has happened to the dots on the screen. You should see four dots.

  • Move your finger very slowly toward the screen (still focusing on it!) until the two middle dots slide together and merge into one. The middle composite dot should pop out in 3D. Use your finger to help you, but you will need to get it down and out of the way in order to see the 3D figure unobstructed.

  • If you have problems, play with the positioning of your finger. Slowly move it back and forth until you find the position that gives you the 3D image.

  • At first, the 3D image might come in blurry. Give your mind a chance to organize itself and the 3D image will become sharp and clear.

NOTE: It's good exercise for your eyes to alternate between cross-viewing and parallel-viewing. If you have any questions about any sensation you feel while trying these methods, check out Exercise for the Eyes.

Viewing Stereo Images with Dots. Parallel-Viewing and Cross-Viewing

The illustration to the left gives an example of what will happen when you view a hidden image stereogram with the Dots Method. Try more dots practice below. Remember, all the single image Magic Eye stereograms like the one to the left are set up for parallel-viewing.

Hidden Star (36k)  Parallel-Viewing

Dots Galore  Parallel-viewing

3D Drawings  Parallel & Cross

3D Photographs  Parallel & Cross

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Magic Eye How to See 3D copyright © 1995; Out-of-Print
by Magic Eye, Inc. and Rachel Cooper, Advocate of Vision Therapy Eye Exercises for Lazy Eye.
All other images and text: copyright © 1996- by Rachel Cooper. All rights reserved.