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The Science of 3D Movies
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

The lights in the movie theater go down. A message appears on the screen that reminds you to put on your special glasses. Suddenly, the picture comes to life in three dimensions! Like magic, shapes and colors burst into the space between you and the screen. It is a wondrous experience. 3D movies may seem like cutting-edge technology, but you may be surprised to learn that the technology behind them is relatively simple.

Humans naturally see in three dimensions. When we view the world around us, each of our two eyes sees a slightly different image. This is because our eyes are several inches apart. You can see this effect in action by holding your index finger up in front of your nose and closing one eye. Now switch eyes, and watch your finger move! Our brain combines these two images to create depth.

3D movies work using this same principal. They are filmed using two cameras. These cameras capture a scene from two angles, just like our eyes do. Normal movies appear flat because they have been filmed at only one angle. With their single lens, movie cameras are like a single eye, viewing everything from only one perspective. But what if two camera filmed the same scene from slightly different angles? The result is a three-dimensional movie!

The final technological trick is to send one image to our left eye and another to our right. This is accomplished through 3D glasses. These special glasses use a technique called polarization to allow only one image to reach each eye. That is how two videos filmed on two separate cameras are combined into one 3D movie before your eyes.

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