As 360-degree video cameras break into the market and places like YouTube allow for 360 video viewing with VR, creator Tom Scott reminds us that we don’t need fancy equipment to create and view 3D. Scott has made a video that uses an optical illusion called the Pulfrich Effect, which makes it viewable in both 2D and 3D.

To see Scott’s video in 3D, you’re going to have to grab a pair of sunglasses and cover your right eye. Why? By covering your eye with the sunglasses, your eyes will become out-of-sync with each other due to the contrast between the light and dark. “Your eyes and brian take a little bit longer to process dark images than light ones,” explains Scott. “If you put dark sunglasses over your right eye, then the image from that eye with get delayed by about one frame on its way through your brain. So you end up seeing two different images, one frame apart in time.”

This is known as the Pulfrich Effect and Scott is able to use this effect by applying lateral motion in his video, allowing your brain to interpret the side-to-side motion as depth.

You can see the illusion yourself, but remember, you need a pair of sunglasses, and you also need to watch Scott’s video at a high frame rate.

The effect doesn’t create perfect 3D, as even Scott admits, but it works well enough that a few tv shows and even a few video games have used it. But for this effect to work, there needs to be careful planning and constant motion, so it’s not very practical for most productions.

Nevertheless, when done right, the Pulfrich effect really can trick our eyes into thinking that 2D videos are 3D.

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Sean Berry
Sean Berry is a blogger and Videomaker Contributing Editor.