Youtube 3D


You can’t use Google Chrome or Safari to view this video in 3D. At least not at the time of this writing. Firefox will work but Chrome or Safari don’t have the options for some reason. The video will appear as two nearly identical videos side by side in Chrome, which is what the video looks like while I’m editing it, instead of the composite video.

The work flow for editing 3D video is very similar to 2D and doesn’t require much more time. The more I work with 3D video, the more I see the difference between 3D and 2D similarly to the difference between color and black and white pictures. Depth, like color, is an additional layer of information.

Aside from potentially having to adjust the positioning of the two videos in relation to each other, which is a breeze in Sony Vegas, there isn’t any difference I’ve found so far between the editing of 3D and 2D video.

Exporting the video may require an extra step. When I exported my 3D video it took a couple tries to find the codec that would work. I used the Sony codec that exported the file as an AVI. In Vegas. The video file I got would play fine, but it was also almost 10 GB (aka the same size as the newest iPod in 2002, advertised to hold “about 2,500 songs”).

That would have been a headache to upload to YouTube even on a reliable wireless network (no offense Mizzou Wireless) so I had to get the size down. I opened the AVI file in Adobe Premiere and exported the video again using the H.264 codec and checking the “match preset to source” box. This option might be available in Vegas but I’m less familiar with that program than I am with Premiere and in all my A/V classes we used H.264 and it hasn’t let me down yet.

The file Premiere exported was a much more manageable 90.5 MB MP4. To my knowledge, there has never been a 90 MB iPod.

To view the video, which lacks any impressive depth, you will need either analglyphic (blue and red) glasses or a 3D TV. The purpose of the video was to test how virtual reality apps on a phone would appear in a video. One day I’d like to composite a 3D model over the phone so there will be something interesting to look at. Until then, I present roughly two minutes of barely 3D hands using a iPad and then a phone.

The app in the video, by the way, is the Augment Virtual Reality app I described last week.


Augmented Reality in your pocket


Augmented Reality (AR) is super cool I don’t care what anyone says. I used a free AR app to digitally put a Santa hat on Mike. The pinnacle of technological achievement :


The app is called “Augment: 3D Augmented Reality.” Augment is the company that also makes crazy expensive software that’s let’s you do amazing things, as often is the case with technology.

But I’m just getting started. The most impressive feature of the app is the ability to scan symbols and images and have a pre-selected 3D model appear.

You can upload the picture or symbol to the Augment database you want to be the trigger through the software online on a computer or you can select a picture through the app. Then you pick what 3D model will appear.

Anyone who scans the image will see the 3D,even if the image is on a screen. In our test case, scanning the picture of a dress causes the (unfinished) 3D model of the dress to appear.


The advantage of this technology over something like a QR code is that the image you scan can stand alone without using a phone. It’s unobtrusive. And you have a better idea of what you’re getting.

You can browse through popular 3D objects in the app as well. Some of the suggested uses are to see how furniture would look in your house or what an article of clothing would look like on a person.

Like I said,  the app is free and pretty intuitive. Try it out on and augment your friends or dogs.

Blurring the line


As I work more with 3D  I notice how the concept blurs line between our physical world and the virtual one. The intersections between the worlds can created with something relative newer, such as the virtual reality device Oculus Rift which retails for $350.

Or there’s another tool that’s a little older that can replicate a 3D experience, for about five bucks: chalk.

In the right hands, of course. And in the hands of artist Julian Beaver, chalk turns a sidewalk into a window into another world.

As is often the case in 3D, our brains are being tricked. Julian’s trick is using a forced perspective. By stretching out images with his keen eye, he can trick our brains into creating depth. Here’s another example of one his works, as seen from the intended angle:

And here’s the spell-breaking view from another angle:

The once spherical globe is now firmly 2D. Here’s another picture set (a ton more can be found on his online gallery):

Bringing 3D elements to life in the physical world has limitations. In the case of chalk, the cost is low but the technical expertise is incredibly high. And the viewing angles are limited.

One work-around to the viewing angle dilemma is to create your own environment so you can control the experience completely.

Recently, artists Vincent Morisset, Caroline Robert and Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit created a project where you control a 3D character in a 3D environment. The environment is a combination of a forest they capture using 360 degree video as well as computer rendered elements.

The cool thing about this project is while you can view it in Oculus Rift and on 3D devices and all that, it is also very accessible because you can view it in your browser without downloading any plug-ins.

Well, “view” isn’t the perfect word, because you have a lot of control overthe character. Here’s  the trailer:

But nothing is better than being able to blur the line of the actual and virtual on your own, check out the website to explore yourself. And make sure you have the volume on, the music is half the experience.

Shooting 3D Video with a (surprise) 3D camera

Sony HDR-TD20

Sony HDR-TD20

The camera I’ve used for some 3D test footage yesterday looks just like any other Sony Handycam except for the two lenses in front and the video viewfinder is a glasses-free 3D screen. For a consumer product that is around $1,000 on Amazon, this is incredible.

This is my only experience with 3D cameras so I don’t have much to compare it to but a reviewer on Amazon said “. . .I also took footage of [a] turtle under the water from above the lake in the local park and it was just amazing.”

It’s hard to argue with amazing turtle footage.

Turtle-Cam 3D

Turtle-Cam 3D

In order to play back video in glorious 3D however, you’ll need a special program. I’m using Stereoscopic Player which has a free trial download but is only for Windows machines at the moment. Viewing is pretty simple, you just drag the video files in from whatever folder you saved them in and they play like any video player.

You do, however, need to be wearing active 3D glasses, otherwise the video looks a little blurry and decidedly two-dimensional.

3D test footage played back with the Stereoscopic Player program.

3D test footage played back with the Stereoscopic Player program. People walking in the background appear in doubles without 3D glasses. 

A pair of active 3D glasses are needed to view the video in 3D. As they are active, the glasses will require a power source. This pair has a rechargeable battery.

A pair of active 3D glasses are needed to view the video in 3D. As they are active, the glasses will require a power source. This pair has a rechargeable battery.

A 3D camera doesn’t magically make footage have depth, though it comes close. Without the right angle footage can still appear almost completely flat. I was able to achieve greater depth by following a few basics:

1. Have an something, anything,  in the foreground, middle ground, and background.

When all three of these areas have something for the eye, the contrast between their locations in 3D space is easily defined. If you remember from one of my previous posts, 3D is basically a big lie to our brains. Placing objects at different depths helps to fool our brains that the depth you’re recreating on the screen is real. Be careful not the clutter the scene up too much, or it will strain the viewers eyes and distract from the scene.

2. Be aware of large, especially horizontal, backgrounds.

A large, flat background can wash out the depth and make your subjects look flat against a screen. The more wide and monotonous the background, the flatter the whole frame appears to be. If you take a look at the screenshot above the glasses, you can see I tried to use the two buildings to frame the background and give it depth. The motion of people walking helps too. I was struggling to achieve depth when shooting the scene straight on. When I raised the camera more on the tripod and angle it down I think I got a better result.

3. Tight shots get more depth.

This is pretty similar to the last point but I think it bears repeating. It was very difficult to achieve the 3D effect from wide shots and even medium shots were a challenge without staging the scene.

4. Keep in mind what you’re trying to achieve.

3D is wicked cool on its own but think about what you’re trying to accomplish in that scene. I think 3D can help draw the eye to what you think it important in the scene. In some test footage, I wanted to make the screen of a cell phone the focal point. I tried to draw attention to it by having the phone move between the foreground and middle ground to make the 3D effect more noticeable.

This last points gives me a lot to think about. I understand a viewpoint that 3D in general makes a scene more real and thus more engaging but I’m sure there are more nuanced and varied applications. I will continue to look to others in the field for ideas and inspiration.