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3D In Perspective

Andrew Collins examines our centuries-old preoccupation with representing the 'real' world in virtual space. From 2010.

Bringing together the science of 3D TV with a wide-ranging history of art and entertainment, Andrew Collins examines our centuries-old fascination with representing the world that exists in three visual dimensions. In modern 3D entertainment, today's technologists are fighting the same battles with geometry, depth of field, light and texture as 15th Century painters. Award-winning visual effects supervisor, Paddy Eason discusses the debt that 3D imaging owes to its painterly predecessors.

At The National Gallery, art historian Professor David Ekserdjian explains how, from the changing shape of a canvas to the arrival of oil paint, the architects and artists of the Renaissance, challenged our notions of reality. Andrew enters a world of optical illusion, trawling piles of perspective pictures and stereo photographs at The Bill Douglas Centre for The History of Cinema and Popular Culture. Lecturer in Victorian Studies, John Plunkett explains, the appeal of 18th and 19th century optical or 'philosophical' toys, made possible by good lenses and mirrors. Often dismissed as novelty, they emerged from groundbreaking research on the physiology of vision.

The history of 3D is littered with failed technologies, including 3D films that predate cinema sound. Professor Neil Dodgson from The Computer Laboratory in Cambridge is a 3D expert. He outlines the obstacles, in particular the poorly paid projectionist and ultimately the limitations of human vision. Neuroscientist Dr Sue Barry, understands the visceral appeal of 3D. Aged 50, she experienced her first thrilling sense of 3D immersion after years of being 'stereoblind' and suggests why we are so preoccupied with experiencing virtual 3D space.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes

A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4 first broadcast in December 2010.

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30 minutes

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