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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 different 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 please see Shutter Glasses Requirements.

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

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, which is located 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 Type group

There are seven different cursor shapes you can choose from:

  • 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 pros and cons, but it is mainly a personal preference as to which one to use.

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 quickly 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:

TaskMouse or keyboard operation


Left-click and drag.

Decelerated change in XY

Press Caps Lock and move the cursor in the desired direction. Press Caps Lock again to return to the standard speed of change in XY.

Accelerated change in XY

Press the Shift key while moving the cursor in the desired direction.


Press the Q key while moving the cursor in the desired direction.

Zoom in/Zoom out

There are several ways to change the zoom factor:

  • Press the Ctrl key while rotating the mouse wheel.
  • Use the tools in the Navigate group.
  • Use the Plus Sign (+) and Minus Sign (-) keys.

Change the z-value

Rotate the mouse wheel. To increase the z-value, rotate the wheel backward. To decrease the z-value, rotate the wheel forward.

Alternatively, press the Z key while moving the cursor horizontally. To increase the z-value (height), move the cursor to the right. To decrease the z-value, move the cursor to the left.

Accelerated change in Z

Press the Shift key while rotating the mouse wheel.

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

Decelerated change in Z

Turn on Caps Lock and rotate the mouse wheel.

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

Surface snapping

Press B to activate surface snapping.

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

Terrain following on/Terrain following off

Press T to turn terrain following on and 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.

Roaming cursor mode/Fixed cursor mode

Press F8 to switch between the roaming cursor mode and the fixed cursor mode.

Fixed cursor mode off/Fixed cursor mode on

Press the ~ (Tilde) key to switch the fixed cursor mode off.

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—you only need to press the ~ key.

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

Adjust the x-parallax

Press and hold Ctrl+Left Arrow or Ctrl+Right Arrow to change the x-parallax. The two images move toward or away from each other in the x (horizontal) direction.

Alternatively, press the V key while you move your mouse to the left or the right.

Adjust the y-parallax

Press and hold Ctrl+Up Arrow or Ctrl+Down Arrow to change the y-parallax. The two images move toward or away from each other in the y (vertical) direction.

Reset to the default parallax

Press Ctrl+F7 to return the parallax to the default.

Set source as the best model

Press the M key.

Pan to the center of the stereo pair

Press the E key.

Open the Overview window

Press the O key.

Open the Magnifier window

Press the W key.

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 and dropping the file into 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.

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