The Future of 3D: Mixing CGI with Auditory Illusions?

3D technology has become more common in the entertainment industry. Movies and television shows are produced in 3D, with the audience being given special glasses to view the effects. Developers have even found a way to create 3D effects in sound, creating a realistic experience for the listener. With the two advancement of the two technologies, it is conceivable that movies, television, games, or videos could be created with both 3D visual and sound effects, creating a total 3D experience that replicates a realistic experience as closely as technology will allow. Here’s how it works:

Auditory Illusions

Advances have been made in creating so-called “auditory illusions” in which sound appears to be coming from different locations independent of the speakers. One such example includes the “virtual barber shop” from Q Sound Labs:

The technology produces a sound that imitates real actions. As the barber in this clip moves to cut hair at different spots around the head, the sound moves in those directions. If the barber is meant to be at your right ear, you hear the scissors clipping by your right ear. The technology can also be used to create the illusion of sound in different spaces, such as a large room, a hallway, or a cave.

Possibilities for the Future

The technology exists for 3D visual effects and auditory illusions, but the two have rarely been combined on the big screen. While surround sound has been able to replicate the “3D” experience to some extent, it hasn’t been as effective as the technology seen in the type of auditory illusions created in the “virtual barber shop.” It’s possible that future movie-going experiences could include the use of 3D glasses for the visual effects and personal headphones for the sound effects.


Of course, creating personal sound ports for individual movie goers has practical and cost limitations. Doing so would require re-outfitting most movie theaters, or giving audience members personal, portable sound devices, such as a small radio on a limited frequency. The technology also has limits for personal viewing. While individuals could watch programming on a laptop and use personal headphones for the sound effects, the same experience could not be replicated by watching on a television set, which would include a larger picture for a more enjoyable viewing experience. As 3D technology grows and is embraced by larger audiences, the technology to view and enjoy will have to change with it.

Already, 3D technology is growing for movie-goers, with more 3D screens available and up to 40 percent of ticket sales coming from 3D films this year. Breakout films like Avatar have shown the possibilities for 3D visual technology and audience demand for the technology when it is done well. Combining this type of innovation in visual technology with innovation in sound technology can create a unique movie experience that could change the way films and television are created.

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