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Distance perception from motion parallax and ground contact

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Meng and Sedgwick (2001, 2002) found that the perceived distance of an object in a stationary scene was determined by the position at which it contacted the ground in the image, or by nested contact relations among intermediate surfaces. Three experiments investigated whether motion parallax would allow observers to determine the distance of a floating object without intermediate contact relations. The displays consisted of one or more computer‐generated textured cylinders inserted into a motion picture or still image of an actual 3‐D scene. In the motion displays, both the cylinders and the scene translated horizontally. Judged distance for a single cylinder floating above the ground was determined primarily by the location at which the object contacted the ground in the projected image (“optical contact”), but was altered in the direction indicated by motion parallax. When more than one cylinder was present and observers were asked to judge the distance of the top cylinder, judged distance moved closer to that indicated by motion parallax, almost matching that value with three cylinders. These results indicate that judged distance in a dynamic scene is affected both by optical contact and motion parallax, with motion parallax more effective when multiple objects are present.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of California, Riverside, CA, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2005


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