is it possible to create fake 3d sound panning (like with headphone and htrs) with a standard 5.1 system?
i think no, never heard of any tool or technique that can allow that...
Since 3d sound technically works on two speakers it can be used in 5.1 systems via 3d processing on either the front LR speakers or rear LsRs. I am using wavearts panorama 3d to create hight feel with sound effects in surround and using only the stereo field for these sounds with maybe a little wet reverb in opposite speakers.
So I will have to disagree, 3d sound IS possible in a surround field.
No, you really need a binaural system to allow that. You can simulate the illusion of height on a 5.1 system with different EQ techniques and delays (which is how binaural audio works), but since every speaker in a 5.1 system reaches both of your ears, and you can never truly isolate them without headphones, you cannot fully create height.
That's a interesting goal, since my first solution would be to really pan in 3D, since it's 5.1. Moving to 7.1, or even Tomlinson Holman's 10.2 setup would allow for even more manipulation of 3D panning.
As far as tools to fake 3D in surround, I found something by AstoundSound that they call 4D Technology which they claim can replicate 3D sound in dual channel, as well as multi-channel sources (demo available for download).
As always, my favorite, never-wrong source of information offers more places you can look.
This one seems to use meta-control of common spatial cues to "fake" 3D on surround setups. link text
Haven't tried it myself
Ambisonics is quite an interesting one when it comes to "3D" sound, it allows you to create a full 3 dimensional sound field. It is essentially kindov an extension of the Blumlien ideas for stereo.
It can use nearly any number of speakers to recreate the sound field, and probably more interesting for film it can easily be decoded to 5.1 and also create a stereo version with relative ease.
Definitely worth a look at it anyway.