by Ian Randall. Published: 31 January 2011

The ALICE experiment was captured in three-dimensions earlier this month, as part of a film project on behalf of the visitor service. When finished, visitors to CERN will be able to don special spectacles and realistically live out the experience of roaming the experimental cavern - in 3D.

While some previous filming was done across a number of detectors and experiments in January last year, the latest shoot, taken on the 19 January, offered the rare chance to capture ALICE with the L3 magnet doors open.

“The reason to make [the film] in 3D is that you have a much more immersive visualization. So, particularly because most visits cannot go into the underground sites, we want to give them the closest experience to actually going there,” says Silvano de Gennaro, a multimedia producer who works for CERN’s communication group. “3D is definitely the best technical solution we have for that”

The filming, conducted by Nicolet Video Productions, was undertaken using two cameras for each shot. These are set a variable distance apart - usually around 6.5 centimeters, as with the pupils of our eyes - and the two recorded films are later placed side to side, such that special 3D televisions or projectors can interpret the images and superimpose them into a three-dimensional view – granting the appearance of depth when observed through special lenses.


ALICE, as in the 3D film. Special projectors are capable of superimposing the two images, creating the illusion of depth.

The distance between the cameras can be adjusted to give the most natural looking shot. For a higher resolution, larger cameras are needed – with special mirrors used to the focal points of the cameras the correct distance apart.

The latest three-dimensional shoot was undertaken in full HD – which offers a third more resolution than the previous footage taken around CERN. This should give viewers a much greater immersion in the picture. Both filming sessions will be pooled together for the movie - accompanied by computer generated animations, which will illustrate the physics which underlies the experiments taking place at CERN.

When finished, the film – which shall incorporate information on all the main LHC experiments, as well as CERN in general - will replace the current movie which is shown in the visitor center in building 33.

“The current movie is done with old pieces: not made specifically for the visits, and not reflecting the current status of CERN and the LHC,” de Gennaro says. “We wanted to do something that is updated, in full HD, with stereo vision.”

Filming will continue on 11 February at LHCb, once all the work there has been completed. The movie itself – which will be around 15 to 20 minutes in length – is hoped to have its premier by May this year.



Alice in 3D

I can force my eyes and brain to see those two images in 3D on my computer screen. I wonder if I could see in 3D on my computer screen if instead of the two images I was seeing the two videos displayed side by side.