Anaglyph images are used to provide a stereoscopic 3D effect, when viewed with 2 color glasses (each lens a chromatically opposite color, usually red and cyan). Images are made up of two color layers, superimposed, but offset with respect to each other to produce a depth effect. Usually the main subject is in the center, while the foreground and background are shifted laterally in opposite directions. The picture contains two differently filtered colored images, one for each eye. When viewed through the "color coded" "anaglyph glasses", they reveal an integrated stereoscopic image. The visual cortex of the brain fuses this into perception of a three dimensional scene or composition.
- Anaglyph images have seen a recent resurgence due to the presentation of images and video on the Internet, Blu-ray HD discs, CDs, and even in print. Low cost paper frames or plastic-framed glasses hold accurate color filters that typically, after 2002, make use of all 3 primary colors. The current norm is red and cyan, with red being used for the left channel. The cheaper filter material used in the monochromatic past dictated red and blue for convenience and cost. There is a material improvement of full color images, with the cyan filter, especially for accurate skin tones.
- Video games, theatrical films, and DVDs can be shown in the anaglyph 3D process. Practical images, for science or design, where depth perception is useful, include the presentation of full scale and microscopic stereographic images. Examples from NASA include Mars Rover imaging, and the solar investigation, called STEREO, which uses two orbital vehicles to obtain the 3D images of the sun. Other applications include geological illustrations by the USGS, and various online museum objects. A recent application is for stereo imaging of the heart using 3D ultra-sound with plastic red/cyan glasses.
- Anaglyph images are much easier to view than either parallel (diverging) or crossed-view pairs stereograms. However, these side-by-side types offer bright and accurate color rendering, not easily achieved with anaglyphs. Recently, cross-view prismatic glasses with adjustable masking have appeared, that offer a wider image on the new HD video and computer monitors.