Three-dimensional (3D) video cameras are recording devices able to produce 3D movies rather than flat two-dimensional (2D) movies that lack depth. Most 3D video cameras are made for the consumer market, so they often are fairly small and inexpensive. Traditionally, 3D movies were made using two side-by-side cameras, but 3D video cameras replicate this effect by using two side-by-side lenses. To increase the quality from consumer-level to broadcast-level, the camera and lenses must be larger. Depending on the cameras, the 3D effect may require glasses for the viewer to see the depth.
When the 3D effect was first made for movies, it was done by strapping two cameras together so they could make images for the left and right eyes. While this method is a little clunky and there is a high chance of recording inaccuracy, it mostly is replicated in 3D video cameras. Instead of using two different cameras, these cameras use two different lenses to make separate images for the left and right eyes, or mirrors are used to create this effect. There often is internal software that automatically combines the two movies into one to generate the 3D movie.
Most 3D video cameras are made for the consumer market. These cameras are not supposed to create broadcast-quality movies, so they typically are fairly small and inexpensive. This makes 3D movie technology more accessible to people who are making amateur and home movies while still delivering a quality 3D experience.
Broadcast-quality 3D video cameras use technology similar to the consumer-grade version, but they are larger and the 3D effect can be projected on larger screens. Aside from these cameras being bigger, the largest difference is found in the lenses. The cameras’ build usually is too large to enable two lenses to properly fit into these cameras, so a mirror is used to mimic the effect. The 3D lenses are bigger, so the footage will have better quality and the 3D effect should appear more realistic.
People may need special glasses to accurately view movies made with 3D video cameras, depending on the camera and what the user wants. Some people may find wearing the glasses to be annoying and, while the non-glasses version is usually not as accurate, it is a viable option. Using glasses often increases the 3D effect and tends to produce the most accurate 3D video; the 3D effect also can be viewed from all angles, while the non-glasses version has to be watched head-on.