Saturday, May 29, 2010
Fresh Homemade 3D--Straight from Your Own Computer
If you've been following the news that has been circulating through the home video market, 3D television has finally arrived for the general consumer. Following hot on the heels of James Cameron's blockbuster 3D film Avatar last December, video equipment companies such as Panasonic, Samsung and Sony have been slowly releasing 3D-ready blu-ray players and flat screen TVs, with the promise of compatible 3D video content (both in broadcast and on disc) arriving in the near future. I've seen an in-store display of a Samsung blu-ray player/flat screen bundle which was playing the 3D blu-ray version of Monsters vs. Aliens. I was very impressed with what I saw--the images were crisp and smoothly achived the illusion of depth, while the shutter glasses fit well over my own glasses.
Unfortunately, there are two big problems facing the release of this particular wave of home 3D products: high prices (this stuff ain't cheap, folks) and lack of content. Some alternatives are available that you can use to bide your time until home 3D comes into its own as an affordable, high-quality entertainment option with an ample selection of content. There are cheap field sequential converters avaiable which will allow you to watch full-color 3D on your TV and computer (more about that later). Yet while this kind of field sequential 3D does have some DVDs available in this format, many of these titles are obscure, low-budget cheapies that don't hold up to repeat viewings (or even a single viewing, depending on the title). The best option would be to take the DVD titles which are already available in the anaglyph (i.e., red and blue) format and make them field sequential-ready. Fortunately, there is a way to do this, thanks to Underground 3D Cinema. Read on . . .
I've gone to Underground 3D Cinema many times in the past to purchase all of my home 3D equipment and content. The prices are reasonable, and they always respond to whatever questions I have. In keeping with their customer service philosophy, they posted on their site a free tutorial, complete with screen shots, on how to convert red and blue anaglyph 3D DVDs into full-color field sequential 3D DVDs. The best past about the tutorial is that not only is the tutorial itself free, but the software involved--which includes DVD Shrink--is also free. All it will cost you is the purchase of blank recordable DVDs so you can store your finished conversions for later playback.
I'm sure you're wondering just how effective this anaglyph-to-field conversion process is. While I haven't done it myself, I have seen converted versions of the anaglyph DVDs of Coraline, My Bloody Valentine, and Friday the 13th Part 3 and they all look amazing in full-color, field sequential 3D. I have the Virtual FX Converter/3D Viewing System, which you can get at Underground 3D Cinema for less than $100. It can be used to watch both 3D DVDs converted from anaglyph and DVDs which were originally released in the field sequential format, and it's easy to hook up to your TV set. There are also field sequential hardware/software packages available for watching 3D movies and playing video games in 3D on your PC. Given how cheap field sequential converter units are, it still surprises me that the entertainment industry hasn't done more to provide 3D home video equipment and content prior to now.
That said, while there are many anaglyph DVDs of recent movies available for field sequential conversion, many of the original 3D classics--such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dial M for Murder, and It Came from Outer Space--have not been released on anaglyph DVDs. Some of them can be found on anaglyph VHS tapes (see the Amazon ads at the bottom of this post), while others can be found on laserdiscs and VHD video discs from the 1980s. In those cases, I've been told that converting these into full color field sequential DVD could be done, but it would require an analog-to-digital converter to capture the movie on your computer before you can convert it to field sequential 3D. While purchasing the classic titles on older media formats and the analog/digital equipment for your computer will cost extra, I have yet to hear that any of the original 3D classics will be released for the 3D blu-ray players and flat screens. Thus, this may be the only option to see the 3D classics the way they were meant to be seen for the foreseeable future.
If you need help with the tutorial, or if you are just interested in buying any 3D players and discs, feel free to contact Underground 3D Cinema either directly or through their online store. Purchases made through the store will keep their site running, and they also sell additional stuff that's not on the site in case you're looking for that hard-to-find 3D item. Good luck!