Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fun in 3D: Samsung 3D TV and 3D photographs

I recently acquired a Samsung 3D Plasma TV (51"PS51D550 since you ask) and very nice it is too. We watched Avatar and it was still a tour de force of visual brilliance.

I've got the PS3 connected to it, and with the PS3's mid-2011 firmware update to PS3 3.70 it can output 3D over HDMI 1.3 at 1080i. So I wonder what about photos?

Well a bit of Googling tells me that the emerging standard for 3D photos is MPO (Multiple Picture Object), which in essence is dual JPGs wrapped into the one file. And the Sammy plasma has USB input, so lets see if I can get USB input working.

By way of background, you can get 3D photographs in MPO format from 3 sources:

  1. directly from a camera such as the FujiFilm FinePix REAL 3D camera. I'll try to acquire one of these. Having a dual lens dual sensor synchronised shutter release is the best method

  2. you can manually take 2 photos to mimic the distance between your eyes, and then use software to create the MPO. This is tricky because either you have to move the camera yourself so that means its hard to get consistent results, and what if a subject moves? Or you can use two cameras, which I've tried, and that also hard because again synchronising the shutter release

  3. and of course download some samples from the Internet, which is what I did to get this working.

Then there are 4 methods methods of displaying 3D images:

  1. the red green stereo anaglyph method which is the old school red/green multi-image method, you know, where you have red and green lenses in cardboard glasses. I've _never_ been able to get these images to fuse. Anyway, you can get software which takes the image pair and makes them red and green

  2. 3D stereogram, which is where you have the image pair right next to each other and you go stare at them and allow the two to fuse. I've always been able to do this. You can get software that takes a PMO pair and converts to stereograms and other formats

  3. Auto-stereoscopic screens. You find these on cameras such as the Fuji and on handheld devices like the Nintendo 3DS. In essence the screen uses small lenses to direct the lefthand image to the left and same for the right eye. They are limited in viewing angle and distance, however subject to this they can be very good

  4. Phase or polarised screen and glasses. With this method you show both images together or in very quick succession and use glasse to make sure each eye gets the correct image. Cinemas use polarised projectors and glasses, TVs use flicker and phased locked glasses. If watching on a TV you should not do so for long periods since it'll give you headaches firstly from the extra work the eyes and brain have to do, and also you can get foveal flicker in the periphery of your field of view

So back to the TV. I placed some MPO 3D files on a USB stick, plugged it into the first top-most USB port on the back. Straight away the USB was recognised, and I used the remote to navigate to the correct folder for photos. Turned on the 3D glasses, and there it was!

Brilliant, and thank you Samsung for making it so easy!

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