Are you ready for 3D? Have you enjoyed 3D movies? Interested in enjoying 3D movies or games at home? Or intrigued by the possibilities of shooting, creating, and sharing your own 3D pictures and videos?
The consumer electronics industry is ready to help out, with 3D HDTVs, 3D Blu-ray Disc players, and 3D video games -- Plus early cameras, camcorders, and lenses for shooting your own 3D material. Even better, software tools are becoming available to create your own 3D images and video -- and you can get started at minimal cost with your existing equipment.
This article and associated presentation explores these possibilities from two viewpoints:
Seeing 3D: Discusses the 3D market, and explores the history, technology, and formats for stereo viewing
Using 3D: Explores 3D TV and PC products for the home, cameras for 3D shooting, and software for 3D editing
These new 3D TV systems typically use active shutter glasses, battery-powered units with LCDs that open and block each eye in sync with the display as triggered by the emitter box. These are rather expensive (around $100 or more), in comparison to the simple cardboard polarized 3D glasses typically used for movies. Or you can do even simpler 3D on existing displays with the familiar red/blue (Anaglyph) 3D glasses, in which the stereo images are overlaid in the two colors.
Then to deliver the 3D content, the Blu-ray Disc Association has defined the Blu-ray 3D format for Full HD 3D, and the updated HDMI 1.4 cable format supports 3D video for home movies and gaming.
Unlike HDTV, no broadcast 3D standard for first products
3D Blu-ray in best position
Possible to support with firmware update (Sony PS3)
Also support though cable services: DirecTV
Panasonic Full HD 3D System
And where's the 3D content? Interestingly, packaged media is leading the way, as the Blu-ray Disc Association released the “Blu-ray 3D” specification in December. This provides for Full HD 1080p high definition resolution for each eye, and supports graphics features including 3D menus and subtitles.
Next, there's cable and satellite distribution. The DirecTV service announced plans for several new 3D channels, as have providers including the Discovery Networks and ESPN. However, it's not clear what associated set-top boxes will be required for delivering these new satellite or cable signals.
As an example, the Sony holiday line of BRAVIA 3D HDTVs range from 40 to 60 inch displays, priced from $2099 to $4999 (reduced to $1349 to $4499). These are both Full HD 1080p models. The 60" set includes 3D glasses, while the 40" set is "3D ready," requiring separate glasses ($399) and wireless transmitter ($49). Sony is also selling the 3D accessories in bundles with a 3D Blu-ray movie.
BRAVIA 3D HDTV - 40, 46, 52, 55, 60 in. displays
40" BRAVIA HX800 Series 3D HDTV
Full HD 1080p with 3D (3D ready)
Dynamic Edge LED backlight, Motionflow PRO 240Hz refresh
BRAVIA Internet Video, DLNA Certified
37 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 9 7/8 in. (952 x 613 x 250 mm),
36.2 lbs. (16.4kg) with pedestal
New (or upgraded) Blu-ray 3D players then are required to play movies on 3D discs. Not surprisingly, this capability is being introduced in top-of-the-line players, and should then migrate across the product lines as a standard feature. It is also possible to upgrade the firmware of at least some recent Blu-ray players to support the new format.
Blu-ray 3D - 3D in Full HD - 1080p high definition resolution
Backward compatibility with current 2D Blu-ray players
Supports playback of 2D discs in forthcoming 3D players
Enables 2D playback of Blu-ray 3D discs on existing Blu-ray Disc players
Display agnostic, deliver 3D image to any compatible 3D display
Encoded with Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec
Extension to H.264 AVC codec supported by all Blu-ray Disc players
Compresses both left and right eye views with a typical 50% overhead
Includes enhanced graphic features for 3D
Navigation using 3D graphic menus, 3D subtitles
Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), 12/09
Multiview Video Coding (MVC), the new encoding format used for Blu-ray 3D, is an extension of the familiar AVC / H.264 format already used in Blu-ray, and typically adds around 50 percent overhead for a second stereo frame.
For example, the Sony PlayStation 3 now supports Blu-ray 3D through system software update 3.50, as of September 2010. The PS3 supports Full HD 3D televisions with compatible 3D active glasses and Highspeed HDMI cable. The PS 3 is now available with PS3 320 GB hard drive for $349 and 160 GB for $299.
Known limitations include different display of 3D elements such as menus and subtitle, and playback issues with some BD-J (Blu-ray Disc Java) features such as BONUSVIEW and BD-Live.
Then how do you connect these sources to a 3D display? The Blu-ray 3D format is "display agnostic," in that it does not define the technology used to display the video.
The HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable interface was designed to replace the tangle of video and audio cables between TVs and player devices with single digital cable, which can carry uncompressed digital audio and video. The new HDMI 1.4 interface specification then adds support for transmitting common 3D formats and resolutions. (Some interim connections also support pushing the new signals though older HDMI 1.3 interfaces.)
HDMI High Speed (for 3D) - HDMI, Mini, and Micro Cables - HDMI Licensing, LLC
The updated HDMI 1.4 cable format supports 3D video for home movies and gaming. Even better, some 3D video formats can be piggybacked on existing devices like set-top boxes and existing cabling without requiring changing the entire infrastructure.
3DSupport - Includes major 3D video formats, for 3D home theater and gaming, up to 1080
Includes field / frame / line alternative, side-by-side half / full, L + depth / + gfx + gfx depth
HDMI Ethernet Channel – High-speed networking up to 100 Mb/sec. (no separate Ethernet cable)
Single HDMI cable supports video, audio, and data
4K x 2KSupport – Higher video resolutions beyond 1080p, to rival Digital Cinema
HDMI Micro Connector – Smaller connector for portable devices (up to 1080p)
For devices including cell phones, portable media players, digital cameras
Still 19-pin, 50% smaller than HDMI Mini
HDMI Cable Types
HDMI 1.3 included Standard and High Speed cables, 1.4 adds Ethernet versions and Automotive for a total of five HDMI cable types.
Standard HDMI Cable - For home applications, to HD 720p / 1080i (2.25 Gbps)
High Speed HDMI Cable - For 1080p and beyond (10.2 Gbps), including 4K, 3D, and Deep Color
Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet - Adds dedicated data channel
High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
Automotive HDMI Cable - For internal cabling of vehicles equipped with onboard HD video systems
Beyond the TV, you also can enjoy 3D on the PC, for 3D games, and for movies on Blu-ray though updates to DVD player software from companies including CyberLink and Corel. Adding 3D to a PC requires a 3D-compatible display, compatible graphics card, and 3D glasses, such as the 3D Vision system from NVIDIA, starting at $199 for a pair of active LCD shutter glasses plus wireless emitter.
3D Content on PCs (NVIDIA)
3D Games - Transformative experience
3D Movies - Blu-ray 3D (and HD) - Blu-ray player software: CyberLink, Corel
3D Imaging - Consumer video and photography - View, edit, share
3D on the Web - Streaming video, 3D worlds, photo sharing, social media, animated websites
Requires 3D-capable displays, graphics cards
3D Gaming (NVIDIA)
NVIDIA has converted 500 games and applications to 3D
Graphics driver dual renders left and right eye view perspective
Display alternating frames on 120 Hz monitor, view with synchronized shutter glasses
Takes advantage of platform hardware updates, GPUs, software architectures
(Game consoles add 10-20 3D titles in 2010, have 5-year-old hardware)
The YouTube 3D Channel features videos stored in a side-by-side video format, which the YouTube player can then play back in a variety of display formats. For 3D video, set the display format using the drop-down 3D menu below the video player (next to the resolution menu).
YouTube can present 3D videos for several different colors of Anaglyph glasses. Try the black and white (B&W) or optimized options for videos containing strong primary colors. The optimized option balances between color fidelity and a good viewing experience.
Red / Cyan Glasses: Full Color, Optimized (Dubois), B&W (Most common)
Amber / Blue Glasses: Full Color, B&W
Distributed for half-time ads during Super Bowl 43 in 2009
Green / Magenta Glasses: Full Color, B&W
Included with some recent DVD releases (Coraline and Journey to the Center of the Earth)
View with No Glasses
You can also view 3D videos with no glasses by adjusting the focus of your eyes. Relax your gaze or cross your eyes until the two images merge. YouTube warns that this technique takes a little while to get right and isn't recommended for long viewing sessions as it may cause eye strain. You can also view 3D movies in 2D, by simply watching the video for one of the eyes.
Focus - Parallel, Cross-eyed
2D - Left / Right Image Only
Preparing 3D Videos for Uploading to YouTube
To prepare 3D videos for uploading to YouTube, use a video editing tool to import the left and right videos and combine them together side-by-side into a single frame. For best results, the combined image from the two videos should be 16:9 resolution. This will distort the original frames, but the aspect ratio will be corrected for playback.
So how do you create your own 3D content? The obvious answer is to use a 3D imaging device -- a 3D digital camera or 3D video camcorder, as shown below. But you can actually get started without needing any new equipment.
One nice shortcut is to generate 3D material from your existing 2D media, just as movie studios are converting existing 2D movies into 3D, and some 3D TVs can convert from 2D on the fly.
Use software to convert 2D to 3D - Use software tools like Roxio Creator 2011 (see below) to "dimensionalize" your existing 2D photos and even 2D videos into 3D.
Or, with some extra work you can shoot 3D with your existing equipment, either by using one camera to do double duty, or by using two cameras. Of course, this requires experimentation with both the setup and kinds of scenes for the best 3D results.
Shoot photo pairs with one camera - If stereo requires a pair of images of a scene with a slight offset, than use your camera to do exactly that -- take two shots of the scene, after shifting the camera horizontally between the two shots. Of course, this will only work well if the scene is static, and you control the exposure to match the two shots.
Shoot photos with a two camera rig - A better way to capture two associated images is then to use two cameras, positioned with a small horizontal offset. This works better with a tripod or rig to lock down the two cameras, and with matching cameras and settings You can even capture scenes in motion if you synchronize the shutters.
Shoot videos by panning one camcorder - You can capture slightly offset views of a scene with a video camera by panning the camera slowly. Each frame then is slightly offset from the previous frame. To convert to 3D, import into your video editor and lay out the same video clip on two tracks, one slightly offset from the other. Then merge the tracks (e.g., in the side-by-side format used by the YouTube 3D Channel (see above), composing them into a 3D movie. This works best using a tripod to stabilize the camera, and with relatively distant scenes so the panning rotation give the effect of a horizontal offset.
Shoot videos with a two camcorder rig - Similarly, you can shoot both streams of a stereo movie using a rig with two camcorders, even simple pocket camcorders like the Flip.
Roxio Creator 2011 - Shooting for 3D Production - Tips on Taking 3D Pictures with a 2D Camera
The Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 is a 3D digital camera with two separate 10-megapixel CCD sensors and dual FUJINON 3x optical zoom lenses (35-105mm) that are spaced 75 mm apart to create realistic images that are similar to how human eyes see them.
It shoots photos and video in traditional 2D mode, and stereo imagery in 3D mode, up to 720p widescreen HD video. It also uses the two imagers for dual shooting modes, capturing two variants of the same scene, with different colors, zoom, or sensitivities.
The W3 is an upgrade to the original W1 3D camera, released in September 2009, adding a larger display, higher-res photos and videos, and Mini-HDMI output.
You can preview your shots and review stored photos in 3D directly on the 3.5 inch lenticular LCD display, with no glasses required. The camera stores 3D images in MPO (dual JPEG) format files, and 3D video in 3D-AVI.
3D Digital Camera - 3D and dual 2D shooting modes
Capture high-resolution images in 2D and 3D
Record HD 3D movies (720p resolution)
Two 10-megapixel CCD sensors
Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens
3.5-inch widescreen Autostereoscopic 3D LCD
Displays in 3D, no glasses required
3D parallax adjustment control
2D Dual Shooting modes
Take two shots at same time of same scene
with different colors, zoom lengths, sensitivities
Mini-HDMI 1.4 jack to display on compatible 3D HDTV
Panasonic also has introduced interchangeable lenses for its Mirror-Free DSL Micro Cameras. Instead of requiring a separate 3D camera, this includes two lenses within the screw-in lens mount as an adapter to convert a standard camera into a stereo imager.
3D LUMIX G 12.5mm / F12 (H-FT012)
3D Internal Twin Lens System Lens
Two optical systems within diameter of lens mount
Creates stereo images from left and right lenses
To be processed with 3D image processing system
Internal twin fixed lenses and diaphragms (F12)
Micro Four Thirds mount
Works with Panasonic DMC-GH2S, DMC-GH2K
Mirror-Free DSL Micro Cameras
The Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 can shoot 3D videos, but the lens adapter approach can be used to adapt a 2D camcorder to 3D. For example, the Panasonic HDC-SDT750 is a 3MOS camcorder with a 3D conversion lens that simultaneously records right- and left-eye images in side-by-side format. It's due in October for $1399.
3D Camcorder - Attach 3D conversion lens to shoot in 3D
Two lenses simultaneously record left and right images
Recorded side-by-side in frame, each at 960 x 1080
3.0 in. touch-screen LCD
3MOS sensors (2.53 MP x 3)
Individual sensors for the three primary colors
Leica Dicomar lens, 35 mm wide-angle
F1.5 - F2.8 with 46mm filter diameter
2D movies up to Full-HD 1080p/60p (1,920 x 1,080 progressive)
Panasonic AG-3DA1 Professional Full HD 3D Camcorder
And the Panasonic AG-3DA1 is the first professional fully-integrated Full HD 3D camcorder, for around $21,000. Related gear includes the BT-3DL2550 3D LCD monitor for field use, and the AG-HMX100, a professional HD digital AV mixer for live 3D event production.
Professional editing tools are starting to support 3D editing, both directly and though third-party plug-ins. These already have deep support for multi-track and multi-view editing (for example, when merging shots from multiple cameras at an event), and they tend to have architectures that support extension through add-ins, especially for importing and editing new camera and video data formats
Today's professional video editing tools already are flexible enough to work with matched pairs of images, especially with the support of third-party add-ins. CineForm NeoHD and Neo3D enable 3D workflows for Adobe, Apple, Avid, and Sony tools on Windows and Macintosh, for around $499 and $2995 respectively.
These provide features including stereo convergence and adjustment, 3D display in a variety of formats (anaglyph, frame side-by-side, over-under, line-interleave, and NVIDIA 3D), plus 3D overlays for titles and graphics.
You actually can do simple 3D editing without any special support, as described in an earlier Sony whitepaper on Editing 3D in Sony Vegas 9. This shows to edit can edit 3D footage as a grouped pair of tracks with blended anaglyphic color filters.
Sony Vegas 10, released in October 2010, has a well-known legacy as a 32- and 64-bit professional video editor with deep audio support. This new release features full native stereoscopic 3D workflow, to import, adjust, edit, preview and export in 3D without requiring any additional tools or plug-ins. The idea is that working in 3D is as seamless as working in 2D.
Sony Vegas Pro 10, released October 2010
Nonlinear HD video and audio editing (NLE) application
Professional HD video, audio, and Blu-ray Disc creation
Professional 32- and 64-bit workflow, precise editing tools,
unparalleled audio support, broad format support
For more detail, Dave Helmly of Adobe has posted extensive notes on 3D Stereoscopic editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, with a 60 minute video tour of the complete 3D workflow. He shows how to build a stereo rig with two matching cameras, and then import, edit, and export 3D using the 64-bit CineForm plug-ins. The video also covers various ways to view your 3D productions, including directly to consumer 3D TV displays and authoring to Blu-ray Disc.
Adobe Blog - Stereoscopic Workflows for Premiere Pro CS5
The editing setup that Helmly recommends uses the NVIDIA 3D Vision system (see above) with 3D graphics and a compatible NVIDIA GeForce or Quadro graphics card. You then can use a 3D monitor as your primary editing display, plus an optional consumer 3D TV as a secondary output.
Yes, 3D is coming, However, this will be a gradual process of getting 3D into consumer households, limited by factors including the need for new displays, the dorky glasses, incompatible technologies and products, and competitive approaches to retrofitting 3D into existing delivery paths including broadcast digital television and cable systems.
So while 3D won't be a big part of video production in the near term, it can be interesting to experiment with, especially to think about new rules for framing, shooting, cutting, and editing with the added dimension.
The good news is that you can find relatively inexpensive approaches for shooting, editing, and even displaying 3D based on your existing gear, by using red/blue anaglyph glasses. And you can think about experimenting with presenting 3D productions to small groups though Blu-ray to a consumer 3D TV, or on a PC display using inexpensive polarized 3D glasses.
You can get started with free and low-cost consumer 3D software to view, edit, enhance, and convert your own 3D material.
Fujifilm offers its MyFinePix Studio software for working with the 3D photos and videos shot with the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 digital camera (see above). In particular, you can split the combined left and right frames into two separate files.
Free download - Simple 3D photo and video editing
Browse photos; organize in albums, tag, search
View photos - 2D, 3D vertical (interlaced), 3D horizontal [not anaglyph]
Join, trim 3D movies
Combine two 2D images into 3D (MPO file)
Divide a 3D still image (MPO file) to two JPEG images.
Divide a 3D movie to two 2D movies
Upload to YouTube and Facebook
MyFinePix Studio ver. 2.0 for Windows 7 / Vista / XP [60 MB]
The Stereo Maker site offers an impressive collection of free 3D applications for viewing and editing stereo photos and videos. These support an extensive range of 3D file formats, and 3D display formats for viewing your 3D material.
In particular, StereoPhoto Maker offers auto alignment and color correction in addition to manual enhancement tools. And these are also available in batch mode to process, auto align, auto correct, and convert entire folders of files.
Applications by Muttyan - StereoPhoto Maker, StereoMovie Viewer
Stereo Movie Maker, SlideShow Maker, etc. (updated 11/10)
Roxio Creator 2011, released in August starting at $99, provides a full digital media suite for capturing, editing, creating, and sharing personal 3D photos and videos. The big new addition for 2011 is support for creating 3D productions -- you capture from stereoscopic cameras, import and export 3D videos and photo creations in a wide range of 3D file formats, perform storyboard and timeline editing of 3D material, view then on your computer and online,as well as author 3D-enabled DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.
Creator also solves the chicken-and-egg problem of getting content for new technology formats by allowing you to get started without requiring any new hardware displays or cameras -- you can convert existing 2D photos and videos to 3D to add dimension to your existing flat content, and even view 2D videos in 3D in real time, and then view 3D on standard displays with red/blue anaglyph glasses.
And to view 3D video, CinePlayer not only plays 3D videos, but it also converts 2D standard-def video to 3D -- in real time. It supports a variety of display formats, including active shutter, line polarized, and anaglyph. You even can adjust the 3D format during playback, including the 3D depth and position.
To work with 3D video, both VideoWave and MyDVD can import video in a variety of 3D formats, as well as convert 2D video to 3D -- to preview, edit, enhance, and author in 3D. However, not all editing options are available in 3D, including stabilization and rotation effects. With MyDVD, you can author 3D DVDs in anaglyph or RealD format, albeit without menus (but with chapters). You even can author 3D in high definition, and burn in HD AVCHD format to a standard DVD, which will play in HD on Blu-ray players. Or upload to YouTube to view online in 3D.