Isn't it easier (and way cheaper seeing 3d conversion runs in the millions for a full movie) to just shoot a movie using stereoscopic cameras instead of creating a shallow 3d effect via post processing? That would give the movie a natural 3d depth that could be further optimized via post processing, rather than having to do the entire 3d from the bottom up.

What are the advantages of doing 3D conversion as a post-processing task instead of directly shooting with stereoscopic cameras?

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    They do film some 3D movies stereoscopic, but the cameras are expensive and bigger. Furthermore the distance between the two camera's is important. Mainly older movies that are rereleased in 3D are converted, which is not as expensive as you might think. Have you tried google?
    – invalid_id
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 13:32
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    @close-voters I removed the "fun thought" for now as it was likely attracting the "primarily opinion-based" close-votes. When concentrating on the advantages of post-process 3D over filming in 3D this now makes a perfectly on topic technical production question, I think.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 14:23
  • @invalid_id, typical conversion costs are somewhere in the region of $75,000 per minute of film... a 90 minute feature would cost just shy of $7M to convert... Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 16:19
  • @JohnSmithOptional, those figures are from 2010, I couldn't find current costs. Still $7M is a bargain compared with the additional income ($5 in the US, right) per sold ticket. I think the question is why use an expensive conversion instead of use 3D camera's, however the conversion is cheap compared to filming in 3D.
    – invalid_id
    Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 6:16

1 Answer 1


Shooting in 3D costs are said to be 2-4 times that of 2D costs. Mind you, that is the costs of shooting the film, not the whole budget. It's mainly because you have twice the amount of data: for every frame you'll have to do everything twice, once for each eye. Furthermore, the whole filming workflow must be updated. You have bigger, more expensive cameras, including setting up the cameras correctly for each scene to avoid headaches for the viewer.

Back in 2010 (I couldn't find newer sources) it cost between $50k and $100k per minute to convert 2D to 3D. Converting Titanic was the most expensive conversion I could find and cost $18M. I imagine it can only be done a lot cheaper after 4 years of experience. Clash of the Titans, which was said to have horrible 3D, costed only $4.5M back in 2010 already This film had a budget of $125M. So the conversion costs are just a fraction of the budget, but it adds substantial costs to the ticket in theatres.

So it is not cheaper to film in 3D compared to doing a "simple" conversion.

Some key points from wikipedia on 2D to 3D conversion:

  • Stereo post-production workflow is much more complex and not as well-established as 2D workflow, requiring more work and rendering.
  • Professional stereoscopic rigs are much more expensive and bulky than customary monocular cameras.
  • Some shots, particularly action scenes, can be only shot with relatively small 2D cameras.
  • Stereo cameras can introduce various mismatches in stereo image (such as vertical parallax, tilt, color shift, reflections and glares in different positions) that should be fixed in post-production anyway because they ruin the 3D effect. This correction sometimes may have complexity comparable to stereo conversion.
  • Stereo cameras can betray practical effects used during filming. For example, some scenes in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy were filmed using forced perspective to allow two actors to appear to be different physical sizes. The same scene filmed in stereo would reveal that the actors were not the same distance from the camera.

  • By their very nature, stereo cameras have restrictions on how far the camera can be from the filmed subject and still provide acceptable stereo separation. For example, the simplest way to film a scene set on the side of a building might be to use a camera rig from across the street on a neighboring building, using a zoom lens. However, while the zoom lens would provide acceptable image quality, the stereo separation would be virtually nil over such a distance.

  • With the lack of stereo content, 2D to 3D conversion is the only way to meet demands of the 3DTV industry.
  • Stereo conversion is needed for converting older popular films – such as the Star Wars series, Titanic, and so on.
  • Even in the case of stereo shooting, conversion can frequently be necessary. Besides the mentioned hard-to-shoot scenes, there are situations when mismatches in stereo views are too big to adjust, and it is simpler to perform 2D to stereo conversion, treating one of the views as the original 2D source.
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    +1. Fundamentally, shooting with a stereoscopic camera requires that the physical layout of things in front of the camera is the same as the layout the filmmaker wants to convey. I would think that in many cases it would be better to shoot a scene with multiple cameras from slightly different angles than to shoot with just one, so as to ensure that every parts of the scene that should be visible to either one of the viewer's eyes get captured by at least one camera even if it would be obscured by an object in view of the "primary" camera.
    – supercat
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 17:25

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