Watching 3D On The Web - A Tutorial

Watching 3D On The Web - A Tutorial

It's been awhile since I did a "tutorial" on this site. You'll like this one, it's pretty simple - just press a button. The reason I feel compelled to post this though is that so few people know how easy this is. Even people who own 3D displays. I had to figure this out on my own as well. 

For 3D distribution, Side by Side 1080 video is a wonderful thing. It's made mastering, distro, and viewing incredibly simple. It's become the primary way we're getting stereo video onto 3D displays, particularly passive ones. Here's an example of Side by Side video from everyone's favorite 3D cartoon in space, Avatar. 


This is a 1920x1080 raster. The image that corresponds to the Left Eye is squished into the left 960 pixels and the image that corresponds to the Right Eye is squished into the right 960 pixels. In the Side by Side scenario, you have all the ingredients for stereoscopic viewing traveling in a normal 1080 video stream. That's what's so great about it - it doesn't rely on some funky new video format requiring a lot of extra bandwidth or new standards. To turn this video into 3D all you need is a display that can take an incoming 1080 video and break the raster up into the corresponding eyes. The passive polarization in the display and the "dreaded" glasses take care of the rest. 

The proponents of another distribution format, Frame Packing, which is able to take both eyes at full 1080 resolution decry Side by Side as being lower quality because it's half the resolution. This is true but all I can say is that in my experience the effect of half resolution coming to both eyeballs separately at 240Hz is that the brain does a pretty good job of turning it into full resolution. The clarity is what you would expect from a full resolution 2D Bluray disc. Once again, the amazing human mind subconsciously does an excellent job of filling in the blanks. 

Here's how you do it -

1 Get a 3DTV.

2 If you're Mac, get a Mini Display to DVI adapter and a DVI to HDMI cable. If you're PC, I'm not sure but there are some cool 3D laptops available now that work with an Nvidia graphics card to do all this for you. 

3 Run the cable to your 3DTV and use it as 1920x1080 desktop via the Display controls in System Preferences.

4 Find some Side by Side video on the web. Both Youtube and Vimeo have a bunch. Load the content and then view it Full Screen on your 3DTV. 

5 On your 3DTV's remote control there should be a button called "3D". This button will take whatever is on your display, be it a correct 3D delivery format or not, and will force it into a stereo mode of your choice - Side by Side, Top and Bottom, etc. Press it and select Side by Side. (Note I'm speaking specifically about the new LGTV's but other displays seem to have this feature as well.)

6 In order for this to work without creating a lot of funkiness, the raster must fill the entirety of your 1920x1080 display. If there are borders on the video or something similar, you will discover that while the video might display in 3D, it won't be correct. Usually this will increase the horizontal offsets which will manifest in the form of  a "deeper" 3D than is intended. This often means a miserable experience for your viewer so while the future of 3D viewing online looks bright, there are still are some bugs to work out. 

That's really all there it to it. Enjoy.