Join The 3D Revolution (Part 3)

12/7/2012 2:50:29 PM

Display 3D images on a 3DTV

If you already have a suitable graphics card, an Intel processor with at least Intel HD Graphics 2000 or an A-series AMD APU, and you happen to own a 3D ready TV, the two can be used together to experience full stereoscopic 3D at virtually no cost. However, there are one of two potential pitfalls of which you need to be aware.

First, even an HD ready TV will have a lower resolution than the best PC monitors. For applications such as gaming, you might be prepared to sacrifice resolution for size, but it’s something to consider. Second, you’ll need to buy a cable to connect your TV to the graphics output connector on your PC. If your Pc has an HDMI connector then a simple HDMI-to-HDMI cable will do the trick and costs only a couple of pounds.

Description: a 3D ready TV

a 3D ready TV

If, on the other hand, your PC has only a DVI output, you’ll need a DVI-to-HDMI converter, which costs around $7.5. In this case, you’ll need to separately route the audio.

Finally, if you’re using an nVidia graphics card, you’ll need a software product called 3D TV Play, which is in essence a driver that allows output to a TV rather than a 3D Vision monitor.

Print 3D images

So far, our discussion of 3D has concentrated purely on monitors and TVs, but what if you want to experience the third dimension on the printed page? Active- or passive 3D technology doesn’t translate into print, but the free viewing methods we’ve discussed all lend themselves to printing.

If you have an anaglyph that you can view onscreen using those oddly coloured glasses, you can print them in colour and view them in exactly the same way.

The same applies to side by side viewing, but here you might like to consider using a cheap stereoscope, such as the inexpensive Loreo Lite Fold-flat 3D Viewer. This is easier to use when viewing a printed rather than onscreen image, and means you won’t need to cross your eyes to view the 3D picture.

Description: the inexpensive Loreo Lite Fold-flat 3D Viewer

the inexpensive Loreo Lite Fold-flat 3D Viewer

Just print your pair of photos at the correct size for your stereoscopy and place them side by side. View the images through the stereoscope for hassle-free 3D.

The other option, which requires no viewing aid, is to turn your stereo content into a lenticular print that works in the same way as auto-stereoscopic laptops. Doing this yourself is trickly, but FujiFilm has launched a useful service for its Real 3D cameras.

Simply upload your prints in .mpo format to and the prints will be with you in week. Prices range from $6.5for four 3x2.25in mini-prints to $7.5 each for 9x6in shots; delivery is steep at $7.5 per order. Note, though, that the lenticular printing process is more fussy than it is for anaglyphs or side-by-side viewing, and you should take a look at the 3D Print Guide section of the website for guidance,

Generate your own 3D content

The best way to create stereoscopic photos or movies is to use a 3D camera with two lenses. While professional models are very expensive, the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 is a bit cheaper, at around $330. A much more affordable option is to create your own 3D photos with your existing digital camera.

The first method couldn’t be simpler: take one photograph, move the camera 70mm to the right (the distance between your eyes) and take another. You then have a stereo pair of photographs that you can turn into an anaglyph or display side by side.

Although 3D software makes a good stab at converting alignment errors, it’s better to avoid them in the first place, which is why our second solution is recommended. This method relies on a simple bit of kit called a slide bracket, which you can build from a few pieces of chipboard. The only thing you can’t see is the socket on the bottom, which allows you to fix it to a tripod.

Photographic shops often have boxes full of bits and pieces for sale at rock-bottom prices; the chances are you’ll be able to pick up something containing that all important tripod socket. The only other thing to know is that the inside width of the bracket should be the width of your camera plus 70mm.

To take your stereo pair, mount your slide bracket on the tripod and make sure it’s horizontal. Put your camera in the back left hand corner of the bracket and take a photo. Now slide the camera to the right until it’s in the back right hand corner and taken with the camera pointing in exactly the same direction and at the same height.

There are two things of which you should be wary when using this method, though. First, you should avoid scenes that contain anything that could move between the two shots and, second, if you’re going to be creating a colour anaglyph, avoid scenes containing strong red or blue objects.

Having shot your pairs of photos you need to process them. StereoPhoto Maker is free from It’s simple enough to use just load your left and right images, carry out an auto alignment, then decide how you want to view them.

Description: StereoPhoto Maker is free from

StereoPhoto Maker is free from

You can also store your pair of photos as a single stereo photograph in one of the various 3D file formats, including JPS, STJ and MPO. Note, though, that due to a quirk in the software, your images must be displayed side by side before you save them in a stereo file format.

The simple methods we’ve seen for creating 3D still photos won’t work if you want to shoot video footage. For this your only option is to buy a 3D camcorder. It’s certainly true that you generally get what you pay for, but you can start out without paying a fortune. Sony’s 3D Bloggie MHS-FS3, for example, costs less than $150. Panasonic’s vastly superior SDT750 is more expensive at around $900.

Having taken your 3D footage you can watch it on a 3DTV or suitably equipped PC. However, if you want to edit your 3D movie, and perhaps convert it to an anaglyph for posting on YouTube, you’ll have to make sure you have a video-editing package that can cope with 3D video. This functionality is becoming available in standard editing packages: CyberLink’s $75 PowerDirector 10.0 Deluxe is one such example.

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