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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Parallax in Halo: Visual Realism and Video Games

Besides creating PictureBubbles° and designing things, I spend some of my free time gaming. While playing Halo 3 recently, I was feeling a bit disconnected from the experience and wondering how it would be possible to increase the level of realism in a “first-person shooter” like Halo. In the game, it is possible to change the direction that the player’s character is facing independently of the character’s movement in 3D space. While rotating the character’s head, however, there is no apparent parallax. That is, all stationary objects in the environment have no movement relative to each other while the character’s head (the camera) pans. Assuming for the sake of argument that Master Chief and the Arbiter (playable characters in the game) both have stereoscopic vision, and therefore depth perception, it would be impossible for either character to turn their head and not see some apparent movement.

This is a bit of a nitpicky detail, of course. But at PictureBubbles°, our spherical panoramic photography sits entirely on a foundation of parallax elimination. If we were unable to eliminate parallax during camera pans, objects in the PictureBubbles° would appear ghosted or doubled where the photographs’ edges failed to line up perfectly. In order to eliminate that parallax error, we carefully calibrate our panoramic tripod heads in order to rotate the camera about the entrance pupil of the lens. Perhaps we’d get a little deeper into the uncanny valley if more slight imperfections were introduced into first-person games, such as parallax, slight random movements like swaying or wind, and lighting changes due to clouds moving, etc.

posted by Josh Korwin at 5:56 pm  

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