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The Illusion of 3 Dimensions
By David Ruzicka


In today's entertainment field there are three widely used methods for creating the illusion of tree dimensional images from two-dimensional medium. Each of these systems requires the viewer to wear glasses with differing lens over each eye. The oldest method is Anaglyph. These have been used for decades in comic books and old horror movies. The glasses have one Red and one Blue lens, and if viewed without glasses, the art or film has two distinct images.

If you have seen a more recent 3D (sometimes called 4D if they squirt water on you during the experience), like It's A Bug's Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida, then you have used the second 3D method. This system uses Polarized lenses to filter images going to different eyes of the viewer. This system offers the most lifelike full color 3D of the three methods.

The third type is known as CromaDepth(R). Originally developed for the printing industry, Haunted Attractions are now the number one buyer of this type of 3D glasses. CromaDepth(R) 3D is achieve by filtering the wavelengths of different colors of light. Red appears to float in front of the 2D surface. Blue appears to float beyond the 2D surface and the remaining colors lie in according to their position in the artist's color wheel. Purple will lie in different locations depending on the amount of red and blue in the hue. Black tends to lie with the color it is next to and white stays close to yellow.

The more pure and vibrant the color, the larger the "jump" off of the surface. Which is why fluorescent paints and black light are used in most haunts. Also, the further away the viewer is to the art the greater distance between the colors, which is why painting 3D art on the floor is so effective. A blue floor with red cracks or grid pattern cause the patrons to literally step over things that are not there.

By blending the colors from one hue to the next, you can achieve slanted plains, rounded surfaces and even translucent objects. The one drawback is that the color derives the location of the surface. You can render a human face in 3D with this method, but the nose would have to be red, the cheeks orange, the green and the ears blue. The hair would be yellow in front, and fade to green than blue at the back. This multi colored look combined with the bright colors of the fluorescent paint is why so many 3D attractions have a clown/circus theme.

The CromaDepth(R) system works with any colored light; either reflecting off of colored paint or ink or projected onto surfaces from light fixtures. Using lighting rather than paint allows the 3D designer to have moving orbs of light that brings life to the static 3D world. It is in the use of colored lighting to create 3D images that we have only scratched the surface of haunting with the Illusion of 3 Dimensions.


Leonard Pickel is editor of Haunted Attraction Magazine and Partner in the design-consulting firm of DOA. You can reach him at 704-366-0875 or by email at editor@hauntedattraction.com.

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