Adventures in Portable 3D Entertainment, Continued: Finding the Right 3D Blu-ray Ripper Software

Last month, I posted an article about how I was able to convert my Kindle Fire into a portable viewer of 3D video content. At that point, I could watch side-by-side (SBS) 3D content from YouTube but I had yet to figure out how I could convert my collection of 3D Blu-rays into SBS 3D files that I could play back on the Fire. What I found out was that while such a goal is possible, it was trickier to accomplish than I thought it would be. Read on ...

For those of you who want to stop reading now, the software system to get to convert 3D Blu-ray discs into SBS 3D files is DVDFab 9. This is the ONLY software that I found that can actually do this. I should know, because I had to sift through dozens of software systems that claimed to do the same thing but couldn't do it at all.

As anyone who understands 3D entertainment knows, a stereoscopic image has to have one image for the left eye and another image for the right eye in order for the viewer's brain to think that it is seeing a three dimensional object. If both of the images are exactly the same, no 3D illusion will be accomplished. Thus, it stands to reason that for 3D Blu-ray ripper software to work, it has to be able to pull both the left and right images from the 3D video file on the Blu-ray.

Unfortunately, for something that should be so obvious to anyone who understands the basic principle of 3D illusions, most 3D Blu-ray ripper software cannot reproduce both left and right images into a single video file. I downloaded another software system called PavTube, which also claimed to rip 3D Blu-rays into 3D files that could be played back on other devices. However, its SBS 3D files looked flat on my Kindle Fire because all PavTube did was take the left image and duplicate it as the right image at the same time. To add insult to injury, no one in PavTube's technical support group could answer any of the questions that I asked them about their software's 3D ripping process.

An example of  SBS 3D.

To be fair, PavTube software can do other things. I used it to rip 2D Blu-rays into 2D video files that I could play back on my Kindle Fire, and they worked perfectly. If you're just looking to rip Blu-ray video content that isn't in 3D, you can use PavTube and get satisfactory results.

It should also be noted that many of the 3D Blu-ray rippers that I looked at also claimed to be capable of converting 2D videos into 3D videos and 3D Blu-rays into anaglyph 3D videos. I've seen plenty of other consumer-grade technologies--both analog and digital--that claimed to convert 2D to 3D and none of them worked, and software like PavTube is no exception. I also tried PavTube's anaglyph conversion option and it fell flat (no pun intended), as flat as its SBS 3D files.

On the other hand, DVD Fab is a very user-friendly software system that just about anyone can use. The ripping process itself takes a few hours--usually four for a high-quality transfer--but the end results are amazing to watch. As far as I can tell, DVD Fab's 3D ripping process works for both animated and live action 3D films, as well as for Blu-ray movies that have both the 2D and 3D versions on a single disc and for movies that have the 3D version on its own disc.

During my searches for 3D content online, I did find some video files that were already available in the SBS 3D format but the aspect ratios weren’t the right size. For those files, I used an open source video transcoder called HandBrake and it worked perfectly.

So for 3D film buffs, what does this all mean? It means that 3D fans can still enjoy 3D video without having to buy a 3D Blu-ray player and 3D HDTV combo, a combo that can cost anywhere between $1000 to $3000 (or more). In contrast, if you already have a home computer and a portable flat screen that's around 5" by 7" in size, then the purchase of an OWL stereoscopic viewer, a high-capacity data card, an external Blu-ray drive and DVD Fab ripper software will cost you around $150. This isn't the ideal viewing arrangement for entertaining guests, but it's a sweet deal if you're a 3D fan on a tight budget.


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