Work with stereo mapping in ArcGIS Pro

Available with Image Analyst license.

ArcGIS Pro stereo mapping allows you to view stereo pairs and collect 3D features. You can collect 3D point, line, and polygon features for various workflows such as parcel editing, creating simple 3D buildings, and measuring distances and heights. For stereo viewing, you can use either active shutter, passive stereo, or red and cyan anaglyph modes. The stereo map uses the left and right images in the stereo model to establish the stereo display. In anaglyph mode, one band from the left image is displayed in the red channel, and two bands from the right image are displayed in the blue and green channels. In active shutter glasses mode, the right and left images are flickered at 120 hertz, synchronized between the monitor and the shutter glasses. For the passive stereo mode, the left and right images are displayed on separate monitors. A beam splitter (a polarized glass) is used to filter the images so the left eye sees only the left image and the right eye sees only the right image.

The editing experience in a stereo map is consistent with the standard editing experience in ArcGIS Pro for creating and editing feature class data. While editing, you can use existing layers, symbols, and templates. The output of a feature creation or editing session is saved directly to a geodatabase and can support multiuser concurrent editing workflows.


Stereo mapping requires the ArcGIS Image Analyst extension.

Stereo data sources

Stereo mapping supports satellite data, digital aerial image data and scanned aerial photographs, airborne digital sensor (ADS) data, and drone data. The input for the stereo map can be a mosaic dataset that manages a collection of stereo models, or a single stereo model. A stereo model is two images that are captured over the same sensor, with an overlap and intersection angle that can form a pair for stereo viewing; the two images must have correct georeferencing and orientation.

The quality of stereo models can affect results of the features you collected. After the data source is defined for the stereo map, perform a stereo alignment quality control check. Add the images to the stereo map and locate an object; if the object in the left and right images lines up horizontally, the images are geometrically correct for stereo viewing and accurate feature compilation. The software allows you to manually adjust the y-parallax for correcting the stereo misalignment in localized areas. However, it's recommended that you perform this adjustment using the block adjustment tools before using it in stereo mapping.

Geometrically correct
This image is geometrically correct for stereo viewing and feature compilation.
Geometrically incorrect
This image is not geometrically correct for stereo viewing.

If the images have not been geometrically corrected for stereo viewing, you can use the Ortho Mapping tools to perform block adjustment. The output is an adjusted mosaic dataset generated from an ortho mapping workflow that you can use in stereo mapping after building stereo models.

Recommended stereo mapping workflow

If the images have been geometrically adjusted, you can prepare the input by creating a mosaic dataset and adding the images using the appropriate raster type. Then build the stereo model using the Build Stereo Model tool. Stereo viewing relies on pyramids and statistics; it's recommended that you calculate statistics and build pyramids with bilinear interpolation for the images.


For ADS data, the stereo map can display L1 images directly without additional adjustment.

You can also quickly define a stereo image source using two separate images—a left and a right image—such as a stereo pair provided by satellite data distributers. If you use a stereo pair, ensure that the image pair has the geometric accuracy required for the feature collection. For practical application and better stereo display, use a mosaic dataset to manage the stereo models, because satellite data and ADS data both need an elevation for projection metric fitting. With a mosaic dataset, you can define the elevation through the geometric function.

Stereo requirements

In addition to the minimum requirements to run ArcGIS Pro, you must configure your system with appropriate hardware and software to view and work with stereo imagery.


You can use different hardware configurations to view imagery in 3D stereo. The simplest option to view stereo imagery is to use cyan and red anaglyph glasses. Additionally, the following options are available for viewing stereo imagery in ArcGIS Pro;

  • Active stereo viewing system—Active shutter glasses are paired with a high resolution interlaced monitor with a fast refresh rate.
  • Passive stereo viewing system—Polarized glasses are paired with dual high resolution monitors and a beam splitter.

Both systems use an appropriate video card, RAM, SSD, CPU, and a 3D input device. See the set-up instructions for the graphic card and different stereographic viewing kits:

The supported 3D input device is any Esri-supported mouse that can be used as a system mouse. See the specialized 3D stereographic mouse options below:


After the stereo viewing hardware is set up, configure the ArcGIS Pro for stereoscopic viewing.

Enable stereo viewing

To enable stereo viewing in ArcGIS Pro, you must first turn on the appropriate stereo mode, which is dependent on the type of stereo hardware you use.

  1. Click the Project tab and click Options.
  2. On the Options dialog box, click the Display tab.
  3. For Stereoscopic mode, choose either 3D cyan/red glasses for Anaglyph mode or 3D shutter glasses for all other hardware.
  4. Click OK.

    The project restarts with the new settings enabled.

You can start the stereo workflow.

Add stereo images

To start a stereo workflow, you must have a stereo map view.

To insert a new stereo map, complete the following steps:

  1. Click the Insert tab.
  2. In the Project group, click the New Map button New Map, and click New Stereo Map New Stereo Map.

    When the stereo map view is active, the Stereo Map tab is available. The Stereo Map tab has all the tools necessary to view and work with the stereo pairs.

  3. Click Set Source Set Source and choose the stereo map input.

    You can set the source as either Stereo model collection or Stereo model. Stereo model collection allows you to choose a mosaic dataset as the stereo source. The mosaic dataset must contain a collection of block-adjusted stereo models. The Stereo model option allows you to choose a left and right image pair as the stereo source. The stereo pair must have either a camera model saved as an .aux.xml file, or rational polynomial coefficients (RPCs) associated with the image data.

    Alternatively, a stereo model collection can be added to the stereo window by right-clicking on the mosaic dataset in the Catalog pane, selecting Add to New > Stereo Map.Add a stereo collection to a Stereo Map

    You can also drag and drop a mosaic dataset from the Catalog pane into the Stereo Map.


    • A mosaic dataset containing the stereo images is required. Dragging and dropping single images is not supported.
    • When adding a mosaic dataset to the Stereo Map, stereo pairs will be generated automatically if they do not currently exist. This will increase the duration of the image loading process.
    • If a stereo model already exists in the Stereo Map when you drag-and-drop, the existing stereo collection will be replaced.
    • Adding a stereo model that does not support stereoscopic viewing is not supported.

  4. Click Add Data Add Data to add other layers to the stereo view, including the feature layers you want to edit in stereo. Use the Model Selector option Model Selector in the Stereo Model group to open the Stereo Model Selector pane and choose the stereo pair.

See Feature compilation using stereo mapping for details on how to collect or edit feature data in stereo mapping mode.

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