3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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First Impressions from LG Optimus 3D with Android 2.3.5 (V21b)

December 31st, 2011 · 9 Comments · Other S3D Tech

I was finally able to get the new firmware update V21b for the LG Optimus 3D smartphone that brings new and improved stereo 3D features for the device as well as other non-3D related ones and also updates the OS to Android 2.3.5. So after updating the firmware to V21b (dated 13th December) I tried the new features such as the ability to use the light and image stabilization when shooting in 3D mode, the new video editor, the updated 3D Game Converter, improved 2D to 3D conversion… so here are my first impressions.

I’m starting with the camera application and the new things regarding the ability to record still photos in 3D and 3D videos as this is one of the things with most improvements. The most important thing here is the improvement of the bitrate of the 3D video recording, previously the device recorded 720p (half horizontal resolution) 3D video with 6 Megabits bitrate and now it uses double that bitrate, so 12 Mbps. This means more data and details get captured and 12 megabits for 1280×720 frame size is very good bitrate actually, maybe in later firmware updates we could also see improved resolution as well. You can now also also use the digital video stabilization in 3D mode, something that Optimus 3D previously had only available for 2D video recording, do not expect wonders from it, but it can help improve things a bit, especially if you have shaky hands. Another thing that was previously only available in 2D mode is now available for 3D as well, both photo and video recording, and that is the LED light that can be used as a kind of flash for photos and constant illumination light when recording videos. Now I was a bit skeptical about that, as having only a single light source in between the two camera sensors (and not in the center even) is usually a bad thing to use for recording 3D photos or videos as it casts different shadows in the left and right eye images and the resulting 3D image seems weird as a result. But since the Optimus 3D does not use a typical flash you can find on cameras, but instead uses a LED light the results when using the light for capturing 3D in darker conditions aren’t that bad actually. The key thing here is that the LED light isn’t that powerful and as long as you are not shooting something very close to the camera sensors you will barely notice the different shadows (in the left/right image) or not notice them at all. And using the LED light can help you get a bit better results in darker conditions compared to shooting without the light, just have in mind that you should not use it for macro or very close shots and you should be Ok.

Next up is the new mobile video editor that the firmware update introduces for the LG Optimus 3D smartphone, a video editor that supports working with both 2D and 3D material. The video editor looks and works surprisingly good, but there is more work to be done in order to improve it further and make it a bit more functional than it already is. The interface is quite intuitive, although it took me a while to figure out how to export the finished edit and not just to save the project I’ve created. You can easily import 3D videos and create 3D edits, but unfortunately, you cannot use 3D photos or import 2D photos when you are working with 3D videos. Simple text functionality would also be good to have as a feature in the next update. After all this is the initial release of the software and it only offers some basic functionality when you need to quickly stitch multiple videos, or trim a clip and add some background music and then send it to someone or upload it online. Another thing that I’m kind of missing as a feature is the preview in stereo 3D mode of the 3D edits, instead of seeing them in Side by Side format.

Regarding the 3D Game Converter software, something that was actually introduced in the previous firmware update, for converting non stereo 3D games into stereoscopic 3D format for viewing on the autostereoscopic 3D display of the smartphone there are some improvements, but nothing that serious. It is more of an interface redesign in order to make the software easier for use and more intuitive, but there appears to be no new game profiles introduced in it with settings for new games. At the first run of the 3D Game Converter after the firmware update was applied I got a message that there is new version of the software available, but that one probably had some minor fixes.

As for the improved 2D to 3D conversion, it is hard to say if it is working any better than before, the depth effect in 2D photos converted to 3D seems a bit better, but for videos it is hard to say… don’t forget that the result from the conversion depends a lot on what is in the photo or video as well. What is still missing though is the ability to convert 2D videos from YouTube in stereo 3D format on the fly, so you are stuck to only watching 3D videos on YouTube for now. All in all LG have done a good job in improving the capabilities of their 3D smartphone further with just a software update, but there is more work needed to be done and hopefully they will take the time to make the Optimus 3D even better in the future…

I need some time to see if the battery life has been improved with the new firmware and OS version. What I did not like after applying the update is that the issue with delay in taking stereoscopic 3D photos has not been addressed at all. If you are trying to shoot a moving object in a 3D photo you still need to follow it with the smartphone while focusing and continue after you press the photo button for a second or two in order to capture it correctly. This however makes it nearly impossible to compose a 3D photo and take it the way you want it to be, you just have to hope that it turns out well enough and while this may provide you with some nice unexpected results at times, it could be more problematic for getting the results you want.

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The 56 Application Profiles for the 3D Game Converter Software from LG

November 19th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Other S3D Tech

The image above shows the full list of 56 applications (55 games plus Google Earth) that have profiles for the 3D Game Converter software for LG Optimus 3D and LG Thrill 4G smartphones. You can see not only the name of the games, but also their identifiers that are used for autodetection, as well as the settings that LG has provided for them for best best experience in stereo 3D mode when they are converted by the 3D Game Converter software. You can use these settings as a reference to help you get better idea on how to use the custom settings for the free versions of these applications, that won’t be automatically recognized by the software, as well as for applications that do not yet have official profiles. And while the numeric values may be of some help it is still a bit of a problem to get the same settings applied as you only have sliders with no numeric value being shown when you are making custom profiles for applications in the 3D Game Converter software.

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First Impressions From the LG 3D Game Converter Software

November 17th, 2011 · 6 Comments · Other S3D Tech

The 3D Game Converter software was introduced sometime last month with the firmware update (v10K) for the LG Optimus 3D and LG Thrill 4G smartphones, a software that is intended to convert 3D games for these Android-based 3D smartphones into stereoscopic 3D ones for viewing on the autostereoscopic 3D displays of these mobile devices. But I was able to test the software just recently and here you can read some of the first impressions I’ve got for it. You can say that the 3D Game Converter software is something like 3D Vision for PC, but in a version for mobile phones as it does pretty much the same – convert 3D games in stereo 3D mode for viewing on stereoscopic 3D capable hardware. Of course LG’s the 3D Game Converter is only available on the LG Optimus 3D and LG Thrill 4G smartphones, it comes with preset profiles for 56 games that it automatically recognizes and runs with the optimal settings according to LG. And then you can also try to convert pretty much any OpenGL 3D game for Android in stereo 3D mode manually with the software, but you’ll need to figure out the best settings yourself…

Right after you finish the update of the firmware and your freshly installed phone does not have extra software installed, running the 3D Converter Software for the first time can look a bit weird. You get the message and link above that don’t give out too much information about the software and how to use it, and clicking on the link to see the list of games with profiles you get an under construction image and that is pretty much it. And this can be a bit confusing at first, making you think that either something is wrong or you need to do something special to make the software work. But after you install some games things will get more straightforward.

After you install some games, starting with Angry Birds of course as it is one of the games that has a profile in the 3D Game Converter software you will see it in the list of games that the software will show to you instead of the weird message with a non-working link. Every time you run the software it checks for newly installed games that have profiles and if it finds any you get a link added in the list. You need to run the game from within its icon form the 3D GameConverter software in order to run it converted in stereo 3D mode, if you run the game form the standard menu of applications it will work only in the normal non-stereo 3D mode. When you run a game from within the 3D Game Converter software you can use the physical 3D button on the side of the phone to switch between the 3D and stereo 3D mode of the application. Pressing the 3D button when you run the game normally however will not have the same effect. You can find a full list of games that have profiles for stereoscopic 3D mode in the 3D Game Converter software.

If you bring out the options of the application you get a menu with two things that you can choose between – the “Game list” that brings you to the under construction page and is pretty useless as well as the “Customizable games” that you need to use for games that do not yet have profiles. I’ve already mentioned that the software has profiles for 56 games, but it is actually for 55 games and one application and that application is Google Earth, an application that does look quite nice with the added perception of depth after being converted in stereo 3D mode. If you have seen the list of games with profiles already you will know that a lot of them also have a free ad-supported or limited in functionality versions, so normally you might want to get some of these to test the stereo 3D functionality of the software. You will however be a bit surprised when you find out that the free versions of games that have profiles are not being automatically recognized and the profiles for the full versions of these are not applied, so you have to manually try to find the best settings for them as well.

When you select the “Customizable games” option you will see a list of all the applications (not only games) that you have downloaded. This list does not contain any of the preinstalled applications that the phone comes with, so you will not be able to use the software with any of these… not that you’d need to use any of them with the 3D Game Converter software. If you quickly tap any of the icons in this list you will run it converted with the default stereo 3D settings, but if you hold down your finger for a moment on an icon you will get a menu with three sliders to control the settings of the stereoscopic conversion. These are the “3D Quality”, “3D depth” and “3D Scale”, and although what they do is not documented you should be able to pretty quickly get idea on how they work and affect the stereo 3D effect in the games. The default settings should work quite well with most games, but you might be able to get better results tweaking these settings, but playing with them might also bring worse results or make the games unplayable or even not properly working, so be careful. When you Save custom settings for a game in the “Customizable games” option (even if they are the same as the default ones) you will have the game listed in the main menu of the 3D Game Converter application under the “Customized games” list, otherwise they will need to be accessed only through the extra option (“Customizable games”). The problem is that after saving settings for a game and having it listed in the “Customized games” list there is no way to remove it form there, unless you uninstall the game, but holding your finger on the icon in this list for a bit will also bring the sliders for adjustment, so you can quickly and easily play with the settings.

What I did not like much about the 3D Game Converter’s functionality for user created profiles is the fact that you need to set the settings with the three sliders and then run the game to see the effect and while you are in the game you have no control over them. In order to change the settings you need to get out of the game (no need to close it) and go into the 3D game Converter software again, change them and get in the game again to see the difference. The best way to adjust the stereo 3D settings would be to be able to have access to this menu while in a game, unfortunately we’ve seen similar not so good examples with other native stereo 3D games for other platforms that only have stereo 3D adjustment available in their options, so you cannot make adjustments while you are actually seeing the direct result from them on the screen. Hopefully LG will thing of some way to improve this and add an in-game adjustment menu to help users get the best results easier and more convenient and then the next thing that LG can do is add the ability for user made profiles to be exported and imported, so people can share their profiles. Or at least an option to send user settings to LG, so that they can verify them and have them included in the list of profiles of the software via updates.

And a few words about the results of the conversion of 3D games using the 3D Game Converter software. I’ve tested quite a lot of games with the software (including a lot of titles that do not yet have profiles) and in almost all of them the results were very good, but that does not mean there are not some issues. Just a reminded that games that do not support Landscape mode or are not using OpenGL for 3D objects will not work with the 3D Game Converter software and there are also games that may seem 3D-ish, but are actually using only 2D objects and some of these might not look well converted in stereo 3D mode as well. As an example of a game that has some issues after being converted like wrong depth of different objects on the screen, if you look at the above screenshot from Angry Birds Rio you will notice that some of the boxes seem deeper in the screen than others and they should be all with the same depth level. But generally quite a lot of games work pretty good and the conversion to stereo 3D mode is quite convincing, so the 3D Game Converter software would be a really nice feature to have on every 3D-capable smartphone, but it is only available for the owners of LG Optimus 3D and LG Thrill 4G.

You should have in mind that there are some more demanding games for smartphones, optimized to fully utilize the performance of the smartphone that may not be able to provide high enough framerate when converted to stereo 3D mode. The reason for that is the fact that like 3D Vision on PC and other similar solutions, LG’s 3D Game Converter software also needs higher performance in order to render two separate views needed for the stereoscopic 3D output. Another possible issue that you might face when using the stereo 3D conversion functionality is with games that are made to be controlled only with the help of an accelerometer (rotating and turning the device itself). Due to the specifics of the autostereoscopic 3D display that the LG 3D smartphones use moving the device a lot while watching stereo 3D content can lead to uncomfortable experience as you are going to get in and out of the optimum viewing zones of the display only in which you are able to perceive the volume of the image displayed on it. Still, when you consider all the specifics and requirements of the 3D Game Converter software it can help you get more out of your device, especially if you already have a lot of games that are not stereoscopic 3D-capable. LG has certainly managed to bridge the gap that the lack of so much games with native stereoscopic 3D support available at the moment and hopefully they will continue to develop the software further to make it more functional.

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