Sunday, April 3, 2016

How to Watch 3D Videos on a Kindle Fire




Ever since I learned of its existence, I've done everything that I can afford to do to partake in 3D entertainment. I've picked up anaglyph 3D books, comics and DVDs; I purchased the Virtual FX 3D converter for my cathode ray tube (CRT) TV set so I could watch field sequential 3D DVDs; and I bought two 3D-capable flat screen TVs (one with active glasses, the other passive) so I could watch 3D Blu-rays and access 3D rentals from on demand services such as 3DGO. With such an obsessive pattern of behavior in place, it was only a matter of time before I found a way to watch 3D content on my Kindle Fire. After weeks of searching, that's exactly what I did through the OWL Stereoscopic Viewer, a lightweight and affordable tool that turned my Kindle Fire into a portable 3D video player. Read on ...

3D video entertainment got a significant boost with the arrival of high-definition flat screen TVs, and attempts to expand 3D videos and interactive 3D software over to smart phones and tablets began shortly thereafter. Google Cardboard and the MY3D Viewer by Hasbro are two examples of stereoscopic 3D viewers for smart phones, viewers that were designed to let users experience immersive entertainment through side-by-side (SBS) 3D video displays. Some of the SBS 3D for smart phones involved virtual reality (VR) video games, while others were SBS 3D video files. In fact, YouTube has dozens of SBS 3D videos that can be watched through stereoscopic viewers such as Google Cardboard.


A Google Cardboard 3D viewer.


Since it is also a high-definition flat screen video player, I figured that my Kindle Fire could be used to watch SBS 3D videos. However, all of the smart phone viewers were too small to fit my Kindle Fire, and I didn't have the technical know-how to build one of my own. What's a 3D geek on a tight budget to do?

Enter the OWL Stereoscopic Viewer by the London Stereoscopic Company (LSC). The original LSC operated from 1854 to 1922 and it specialized in stereoscopic photography. The current version of LSC, which is co-owned by Queen lead guitarist Brian May, sells a selection of stereoscopic photo sets (both vintage and modern) and viewers. The LSC’s primary 3D viewer is the OWL Stereoscopic Viewer, which was designed by May himself.


Brian May and his OWL Stereoscopic Viewer.


The OWL was designed to view still stereoscopic pictures, so it doesn't completely fit my Kindle Fire. Nevertheless, I worked around that problem through bubble wrap padding and two rubber bands. As a result, the OWL has turned my Kindle Fire into a portable 3D video viewer, like a View-Master toy with video playback capabilities. The only drawback to the OWL is that it is meant to be held by hand; thus, if you want to use it to watch a feature-length 3D film, you’ll have to hold the viewer yourself--no head straps are provided.

The best way to watch SBS 3D on my Kindle Fire is in a dark room with no competing light sources, and so far I've watched many SBS 3D videos on YouTube to see how effective this viewing medium actually is. As with other 3D video formats, the strength of the YouTube SBS 3D experience is heavily dependent upon the quality of the video file: The higher the video's quality and the smoother the frame rate, the better the 3D is.


My Kindle Fire, my OWL, and my bubble-wrap-and-rubber-bands compatibility solution.


According to what I've read online, there several software suites that can rip video content from 3D Blu-rays and convert them into SBS 3D files for playback on portable devices. I’ve been playing around with a trial version of DVDFab 9 and it appears to be the ideal means of converting Blu-ray 3D into high-definition SBS 3D video files. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a software suite that converts field sequential DVDs into SBS 3D video files.

For all that it does, the OWL does not convert my Kindle Fire into a VR system like Oculus Rift, nor does it make it capable of playing 3D video games. However, I've found video footage of SBS 3D video games on YouTube and some of those are amazing just to watch. It's not VR, but I'll be happy to enjoy it vicariously in this format until VR tech comes down in price.





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