So much cool stuff. So little time.


A Cheap 3D TV

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 18-Oct-2012 08:09

I've been wanting a 3D TV for a while, but the pricing has put me off. Generally, they cost about NZ$1299 and up for a 40" screen and you have to buy the glasses at about $100 / pair and each person needs one, so I'm looking at 5 pairs of glasses for about $500. Plus, no one broadcasts in 3D where I live, so 3D can only be for playback, not broadcast reception.  

There had to be a better way...and there is if you're prepared to compromise on screen size.

I recently bought an LG D2542P 25" "Cinema 3D" monitor for my PC from PB Tech for NZ$338+GST. I found it supports viewing of any 3D content I have that is in side-by-side parallel format. This is the default format for both my LG 3D Max phone and my Fuji Real 3D W3 camera, so it is a perfect match.

On my Windows 7 64-bit PC, the Tri-Def  3D software (included with the LG D2542p) supports all 3D formats I've tried it with - excluding obvious ones like anaglyph where the "3D" is embedded in a 2D image using different colours. It also allows for watching 2D content in 3D on the fly (on a PC). All I need to see the content in 3D is the $1 'passive' "Real D 3D" glasses I bought at the movie theatre when I went to see a movie. Cost of 5 pairs = $5.  

I have been using my "Magix Movie Edit Pro MX Plus" video editing software to compose higher-quality 3D videos for local viewing. It's the same software I use to make 3D videos for upload to YouTube.   

3D TV 

This worked so well on my PC we went out and got a cheap (NZ$124 on special) Philips BDP5200 3D Blu-ray  (with Wi-fi and ethernet) player from DSE. But we soon found it was hard to use the PC when people wanted to use the same screen for watching 3D movies.

I bought a second LG D2542P monitor to use as a dedicated TV.  Problem solved. 

We have a Magic TV "My Freeview" set top box for viewing free-to-air digital TV. It and the Blu-ray player connect to the LG screen via HDMI. But as the screen only has one HDMI port, I bought a Digitech HDMI switch with 4 ports from Jaycar.  The Switch is HDMI 1.3b compliant (not 1.4) but works very well with the 3D Blu-ray player and the MagicTV box and I have had no problems. I also bought 2 x Concord 0.5m, HDMI 1.4 fly cables.

One little quirk: to get the LG screen to see the MagicTV box I had to connect a regular CRT TV to the MagicTV box and - via its setup menus - tell the MagicTV box it was talking to a PC monitor, not a CRT TV. After that, I connected the monitor to the MagicTV device and all was well. Maybe it would have worked anyway and I just wasn't being patient enough....but this way it definitely worked.


(Stereo-crossed 3D image - cross your eyes until the left and right images merge)
LG D2542P
   
 
 
 
Audio is fed via HDMI to the 4-port switch which also includes an audio splitter. I run a male-to-male 3.5mm cable between the HDMI switch an the 3.5mm "AUX" input port on my very cheap Philips stereo. My ears aren't that great (though not that bad, either), so I don't waste money on hi-fidelity audio gear I can't really appreciate anyway.   

Now I can watch normal 2D TV or 3D Blu-ray movies on my very cheap  25" 3D TV. I can use passive glasses instead of active shutter, so the glasses are cheaper and viewing 3D movies is easier on the eyes.

The smaller screen means we have to sit closer, but we found this actually free-ed up a big chunk of the living room / lounge and we now have space to use for other things, whereas before the CRT TV had dominated the room. As we aren't really heavy TV watchers, that was a big waste of space.  

If you want a 3D TV for cheap and you're prepared to make some compromises on screen size, then this will work great. 

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All Blacks Auckland RWC Victory Parade in 3D

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 25-Oct-2011 12:02

I suspect this may be the only 720p HD 3D video of Monday's victory parade by the All Blacks up Queen St in Auckland.  I've edited out all the dead space as people passed, so you should find this engaging if you're at all interested in the people involved. :-)

I used StereoMovie Maker to fine-tine the parallax for the centre-of-interest in each segment. This video should not give you a headache. I'm interested in feedback on that. 

I then used Magix Movie Edit Pro MX Plus to compose the overall video.  It does a great job of handling 3D input files and adding transitions, titles and effects in 3D.  

This video plays perfectly in the YouTube app on the "glasses-free" LG Optimus 3D and HTC EVO 3D phones. It should also play perfectly on any 3D TV compatible with YouTube 3D display options. 

Or you can just turn the 3D off in the YT player and watch it in 2D. 











3D Image and Video Sharing: 3DF33D.TV

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 16-Sep-2011 12:07

You have your 3D camera and you want to share your awesome pics and videos. What do you do?

I went looking for sites that specialise in enabling the sharing of 3D content and found a few. Each has strengths and weaknesses and none of them are perfect. But the price (free) is certainly not heavy and you can't really complain too much.

My aim in sharing 3D content was to make it as easy as possible for others who may not have much experience with 3D images and how to use them. I also wanted a site that let the user turn the 3D off if they just aren't up for it. I also like to view my images in red/cyan anaglyph full screen on my big PC monitor. The effect is amazing, but sometimes the parallax in the anaglyph images is 'off' and most sites offer no way to fix that. 3DF33D.TV Main screen

3DF33D.TV does all these things. This is why it's my favourite 3D viewing and sharing site by a reasonably wide margin. It's the only site out there that lets you fix misaligned parallax and see a good-quality, high resolution image (or video) at the same time. No one else comes close. The site provider / operator, Keith Fredericks, has put together something very special for us all.  

Up front, 3DF33D.TV requires your web browser to support WebGL. That means you need a very recent version of Firefox or Chrome. You should see prominent graphic explaining your WebGL options and how to enable it of you don't have it.

Once the WebGL is sorted (if you had to do anything at all), the default viewing mode is 2D. You have to select a 3D viewing mode in order to see it and the selection button is top and centre on the main page.

Select 3D mode 

When you click on the "Select 3D mode" icon you're taken to a page that offers a wide range of choice for 3D viewing options. To be honest, I don't know what half of them are (yet), but I'm sure the people who need them will identify them readily.

Main 3D Viewing Modes 

The main selection list above should be good enough, but if you need something more specialised, you can click on "Other Modes" and gain access to an additional list of 3D viewing modes. For example, regular (full colour) red/cyan anaglyph may be good enough for most things, but if you have an image that has a lot of red and / or blue in it, your glasses will make those parts of the image look......just wrong. So, instead, you'd click on Other Modes and select "Dubois", which alters the shading of the reds and blues in the images to optimise them for viewing through red/cyan lenses. A bright blue sky on a sunny day will look much more natural using Dubois red/cyan anaglyph than the regular full-colour flavour. It's this kind of flexibility that makes 3DF33D.TV a win for me. This works for both stills and video.

 Other 3D Viewing Modes

Fixing the parallax in red/cyan anaglyph mode (if you selected one) is easy for any still or video. MovingAdjust Parallax

the mouse cursor to the top-right in the image or video when, not in fullscreen mode, gives you access to the parallax adjustment tool (I don't know what Keith calls it.) With your glasses on, just use the mouse pointer to slide the white dot up or down until the ghosting disappears. Then you can make it fullscreen. The parallax adjuster is also available in fullscreen mode, but doesn't work. It will immediately go to the highest negative number and stay there, so best to do this before going to fullscreen.
 

Images can be up to 20MB each. Maximum resolution is 3048 x 1080. The site supports "png gif jpg jpeg mpo" image formats. It can also handle *.jps files if the file being uploaded has been renamed to end in *.jpg. Always make a copy. Don't mess with your originals. I have an LG Optimus 3D (P925G - XT flavour) phone camera and it produces *.jps files and this method works fine for me. It also accepts the *.MPO files from my Fujifilm FinePix real 3D W3. I recently bought "Magix Movie Edit Pro 17 Plus HD" for editing and producing more polished 3D video content (US$99 download copy). 3DF33D.TV happily processes the *.wmv files Magix produces.  

This is all goodness. Could 3DF33D.TV be better? Sure. I admit, I don't know what Keith's goals are for the site, so what might be good from my point of view might not with his vision of where he wants to take 3DF33D.TV. Keith posts a blog entry on the site every few days and they are always informative and or entertaining. His enthusiasm for 3D shines through brightly. He recently published a book: "The Future of 3D Media". I bought an e-copy copy via Amazon for US$9.99.

The site allows you to use tags, but has no folders. So if you want to organise your uploaded content you will need to think about a set of tags that will let you group your images in ways useful to you. I use permutations on the date that include my user-id initials as other people may also want to use dates and won't want my images mixed in with theirs. For example, we can't ALL use "201107" for July 2011 without overlapping. I also add a word or two about the main subject, the location - city and country, my username (so I or others can select only my images/videos) and the device that shot the image ("LG Optimus 3D" or whatever). There is a search function, but any new user will rely heavily on the "new, hot, random" selection choices on the feature pages to locate content of interest. There is no high-level topic index. You have to browse and when you find a user whose content you like, you can drill into it.

It's possible to rate images and videos as one to five stars. I usually do. But no one else using the site seems to use this much. You can also leave comments, but I'm one of the few who do. There is no real "community" side to the site. If you want forums for sharing, learning or teaching, you'll have to go to another site. The fonts on the menus can look a bit "chunky". In some browsers the words on the menus are black on black unless you're mousing over them. But generally the site is stable and stuff just works. I've found in video playback that the player doesn't really buffer much of the stream, so if the network path between you and 3DF33D.TV is being "choppy" due to congestion at some point, there is no way to get around it. For this reason, I can only very rarely use the 720p HD playing mode with the site, but the 360p mode works very well almost all the time.

The user community on the site is still quite small as far as I can tell, but the hit-counts on the content seem to be rising, so interest appears to be growing. The more content there is, the more people will want to go there.

The summary for me is that 3DF33D.TV is the best 3D sharing site out there. If you haven't tried it then it's time you did.



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Steve Withers
Auckland
New Zealand