Stereo map

Available with Image Analyst license.

A stereo map is a stereoscopy-enabled map that provides stereo vision through a stereo model, which is composed of two images of the same geographic area taken from two locations. Binocular stereo vision facilitates better image interpretation than singular mono vision. With stereo display, you can perceive 3D depth, such as slopes and topography, complex building structures, and feature heights and elevation, and you can collect 3D features from the stereo images in the ArcGIS Pro stereo map.

A stereo map's data source is a stereo model consisting of a stereo image pair or a collection of stereo models managed as a mosaic dataset. The stereo mosaic dataset is created as a workspace in the Ortho Mapping application and must be block adjusted to derive the stereo model.

The stereo map uses the left and right images in the stereo model to establish the stereo display. ArcGIS Pro supports two types of stereo display using anaglyph red and cyan glasses or active shutter eyewear. For the shutter eyewear requirements, see Shutter glasses requirements.

Stereo Map view with Stereo Model Selector pane
Stereo Map view with anaglyph stereo pair and Stereo Model Selector pane are shown.

A stereo map has a projection that is defined by the current stereo model. The spatial reference of the map cannot be changed, but the stereo map can display the supported layer in any projection. If the layers have a different coordinate system than the stereo map, they are projected on the fly to the spatial reference of the stereo map. The best practice is to avoid reprojection when possible.

When a stereo pair is loaded, the Stereo Map view displays two images where the epipolar lines are parallel to the x-axis. The stereo cursor always returns to x, y, and z, which are displayed in the stereo view status in current projection units. If no vertical datum is defined, the z-unit will be the same as that defined in the mosaic dataset.

Stereo Map tab

The Stereo Map tab contains several groups: Clipboard, Navigate, Stereo Source, Layer, Stereo Display, Stereo Model, Cursor Type, Subviews, and Inquiry.

The Clipboard, Navigate, and Layer groups are duplicated from the map view. The Inquiry group contains the Locate and Measure tools. The other groups are unique to the stereo workflow.

Stereo Source group

The Stereo Source group has a split button to set and clear the stereo source. When a stereo map is initiated, you need to identify the data source for the stereo project. The Set Source button Set Source allows you to choose which stereo images to use in your project. You can choose a mosaic dataset or an image pair. When the stereo source is loaded, the first stereo pair of the mosaic data is used by default. Once you choose your stereo source, you can use the various stereo tools on the source images and perform your stereo workflow.

A stereo map can only have one stereo source. If the stereo map already has a stereo source defined, the new stereo source will replace the previous stereo source. If the source mosaic dataset does not have a stereo model built, the system gives you a warning message to build a stereo model before it can be used as a stereo source. When you use two images as your stereo source, ArcGIS Pro checks the files for rational polynomial coefficients (RPCs), frame camera models, and overlap between the two images. If any of the necessary requirements are missing, you are notified.

When you are finished using the current stereo source and you want to remove it from the stereo map, use the Clear Source button in the menu below Set Source Set Source.

Stereo Display group

Stereo Display group

The Stereo Display group has tools to set up your selected image pairs for your stereo workflow. The Display Mode has a drop-down menu to choose how to display your stereo pairs. The Default option Display both displays both images. If you only want to see the left or the right image, click the Left Image Only button Left Only or the Right Image Only button Right Only, respectively. Click None Display none if you do not want to display either of the stereo images.

If your stereo pairs are in the wrong order and you want to swap the left and right images, you can click Invert Invert.

Display Stretch Stretch Type opens the Stereo Model Symbology pane, allowing you to adjust the image display setting for the left and right images. You can adjust the brightness, contrast, and gamma for each image. Additionally, you can adjust symbology settings such as band combination, contrast stretch, and dynamic range adjustment. If the settings for both the left and the right images are the same, you can check the Use same settings for both images check box and then make your display adjustments for both images simultaneously.

Zoom to Stereo Model Zoom to Selected updates the map display with the chosen stereo pair. This is helpful when you are exploring the map and you want to return focus to the extent of the stereo pairs.

The Resolution drop-down list allows you to set the display scale based on a factor of the current stereo model's resolution. These resolution choices help you work at the same level of detail for all your stereo models.

Stereo Model group

Stereo Model group

The stereo model collection can include many stereo pairs. The Stereo Model group has the tools to choose the stereo pair you want to work with in the stereo source. The Stereo Model Selector button Model Selector opens the Stereo Model Selector pane, which allows you to manage and select stereo pairs to work with. The top of this pane displays the footprints of all the stereo pairs in your stereo source. The bottom of the pane lists all the available stereo pairs, which can be filtered by polygon, map extent, or attribute. For more information about the Stereo Model Selector pane, see Stereo Model Selector pane.

Stereo Model Selector pane

The other tools in the Stereo Model group give you different ways to choose which stereo pair to work with. Best Stereo Model Best Model displays the most appropriate stereo pair based on your location in the map display and the stereo model metadata. Next Stereo Model Next Model displays the next stereo pair in the stereo model based on the current sorting order. Conversely, Previous Stereo Model Previous Model displays the previous stereo pair in the stereo model based on the current sorting order. Undo Stereo Model Undo Model goes back to the previous stereo pair that was displayed in the map. Redo Stereo Model Redo Model shows the next stereo pair that you were working with in the stereo map.

Cursor group

The tools in the Cursor group help you pick the right cursor shape, size, and color for your data. They also allow you to set the cursor z-sensitivity.

Cursor type

There are seven cursor shapes from which you can choose:

  • Box Dot Box Dot
  • Circle Dot Circle Dot
  • Cross Dot Cross Dot
  • Cross Only Cross Only
  • Dot Dot
  • X Dot X Dot
  • X Only X Only

Each cursor shape has its advantages and disadvantages, but it is mainly a personal preference as to which one to use.

Cursor size and color

You can select the color and size of the cursor to increase its visibility in the stereo view. If you use the cyan/red anaglyph view, some colors show the height of the cursor better than others.

Cursor sensitivity

The cursor sensitivity page allows you to determine how much the z-value changes per scroll of the mouse wheel. The default value is the value set by the system based on data characteristics. It also allows you to set how the accelerator (Shift key) and decelerator (Caps Lock key) shortcuts will affect the change in z per scroll.

The application default values for cursor sensitivity are configurable on the Navigation Options page.

Sub Views group

Sub Views group

The Sub Views group has tools to help you view stereo imagery in the following windows:

  • Overview
  • Magnifier

The Overview window Overview shows the zoomed-out location of your current extent. This can help you navigate around the stereo pairs in your project without leaving your current stereo display resolution. The Magnifier window Magnifier shows a zoomed-in view of the location of your cursor. This can help you view an object closely, without having to leave your current stereo display resolution.

Stereo map navigation

In the Stereo Map view, you can change the cursor's location by moving it to the desired x,y location. To change the z-location (height), you can rotate the mouse wheel to change the cursor's z-value. Click the left mouse button to enter the current 3D point.

You can use the standard Pan and Zoom tools to navigate around your stereo map. The multiple predefined pixel resolution scales allow you to navigate to the desired display scale. The 1 : Square root of 2 scale is often an optimal scale for stereo display clarity.

Sometimes you will need to adjust the x-parallax to see the features clearly, or if you want to zoom in to or out from features. You can also adjust the y-parallax if the adjustment accuracy of the stereo model is limited.

The following table lists the navigation keys used to manipulate the cursor and the display:

Keyboard shortcutActionComment


Activate the Select tool.


Activate the Explore tool.

Click and drag

Pan the map.


Accelerate change in x,y.

Move the pointer in the desired direction. Press Shift again to return to the standard speed of change in x,y.

Caps Lock

Decelerate change in x,y.

Move the pointer in the desired direction. Press Caps Lock again to return to the standard speed of change in x,y.



Move the pointer in the desired direction.

Plus sign (+) or Ctrl+Mouse wheel

Zoom in.

Zoom in on the map.

Minus sign (-) or Ctrl+Mouse wheel

Zoom out.

Zoom out on the map.

Z+move cursor horizontally or Z+Mouse wheel

Change the z-value.

To increase the z-value, rotate the wheel backward or press Z while dragging the pointer to the right. To decrease the z-value, rotate the wheel forward or press Z while dragging the pointer to the left.

Shift+Z+move cursor horizontally or Shift+Mouse wheel

Accelerate change in z.

Press Shift while rotating the mouse wheel.

Alternatively, to change the z-value 15 times faster, press Shift+Z while moving the pointer either left or right.

Caps Lock+Z+move cursor horizontally or Caps Lock+Mouse wheel

Decelerate change in z.

Press Caps Lock while rotating the mouse wheel.

Alternatively, to change the z-value five times slower, press Caps Lock and then press Z while moving the pointer either left or right.


Turn surface snapping on or off.

Surface snapping provides on-demand positioning of the floating mark to the elevation surface at the current stereo cursor location. This provides the z-value at the stereo cursor position.

This feature requires the images to have statistics calculated and pyramids built with either bilinear or cubic resampling.


Turn terrain following on or off.

Terrain following automatically keeps the stereo cursor on the elevation surface as you pan the stereo image pair. This feature is useful in navigating the stereo display.

If you are using a very large image over a remote network connection, it is recommended that you do not use this feature, because there may be significant delays for the system to retrieve the correct information. It is also recommended that you do not use this feature in the fixed cursor mode, especially on images that have frequent and dramatic surface change, such as a DSM with dense buildings.

This feature requires the images to have statistics calculated and pyramids built with either bilinear or cubic resampling.


Switch between roaming cursor mode and fixed cursor mode.


Temporarily turn off fixed cursor mode.

This turns off the fixed cursor mode to allow you to perform other tasks. To return to the fixed cursor mode, press the ~ key again.


There is no need to press the Shift key.

This shortcut applies to United States standard keyboards. Other types of keyboards may have a different character on the key. For detailed information, verify which key the VK_OEM_3 (Microsoft virtual key code) is mapped to for your keyboard.

Ctrl+Left arrow or Ctrl+Right arrow ; or V+ move cursor left or right.

Adjust the x-parallax.

The two images move toward or away from each other in the x (horizontal) direction.

Ctrl+Up arrow or Ctrl+Down arrow

Adjust the y-parallax.

The two images move toward or away from each other in the y (vertical) direction.


Reset to the default parallax.


Set source as the best model.


Pan to the center of the stereo pair.


Open the Modify Features pane.


Open the Create Features pane.


Open the Stereo Model Selector pane


Open the Overview window.


Open the Magnifier window.

Keyboard shortcuts for stereo map navigation

For more keyboard shortcuts, see Keyboard shortcuts for navigation and Keyboard shortcuts for editing.

The Stereo Map view supports two cursor modes: a roaming cursor and a fixed cursor. A roaming cursor shows typical cursor behavior: when you move the mouse, the cursor moves. This is the default behavior. A fixed cursor stays in the center of the display, and the imagery roams in the direction you move the mouse. The fixed cursor is efficient when collecting features since it reduces the need to pan on the map. While in the fixed cursor mode, you can temporarily switch to the roaming cursor mode by pressing the F8 key.

Features in stereo map

Features can be added to the stereo map using the Add Data button or by dragging the file onto the map. Once added to the stereo view, features are overlaid on top of the stereo model that is being viewed and are clipped to the stereo model. A feature added to the map is visible only if a source has been set.

Stereo map properties

Access the stereo map properties by right-clicking the stereo map in the Contents pane and clicking Properties. The Stereo tab in the Map Properties: Stereo pane allows you to view source information about the images comprising the stereo model and set the orientation direction of the stereo models displayed in the stereo map.

Stereo source information

The stereo source information section shows you the source information about the images comprising the stereo model that is currently displayed in the stereo map. These images can be two images making up a stereo pair or two items in a collection of images. The type of information displayed includes the location of the data, name of the dataset, type of workspace, and the ID of the left and right images of the stereo pair.

Stereo model orientation

Stereo models are displayed in certain configurations due to the nature of stereoscopic viewing. The images are displayed with one image designated as the left image and the second image designated as the right image. Image collection flightlines are typically collected in an east-west or west-east direction, where north is up or down in the map, or a north-south or south-north direction, where north is left or right in the map. Consider both of these factors when orienting imagery for stereo viewing.

ArcGIS Pro allows you to choose the way stereo models are oriented when displayed in the stereo map. You can orient stereo models so that north is Up or Right, Up or Left, Down or Right, and Down and Left.

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