3D Vision Blog

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

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Is the Stereo 3D Gaming Doomed to Fail or What, No Really?

July 16th, 2012 · 5 Comments · Other S3D Tech


Lately there are more and more articles regarding the not so bright future of stereoscopic 3D technology for gaming that center around what Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata said about 3D not going to be a primary feature for Nintendo’s consoles anymore. But drawing a conclusion that stereoscopic 3D gaming is dying and now that the initial boom and big interest is over the interest in 3D technology will quickly wear off is totally wrong. And such one sided articles that don’t look trough the side of the normal gamer or consumer, coming from serious and well respected publications are frankly a disappointment (come on, at least try all aspects of 3D personally before saying it is a bad and stupid thing, draw conclusions from your own experience). With that said Nintendo is not going to drop the stereoscopic 3D support, they even have a stereoscopic 3D-capable game console – the Nintendo 3DS (XL). If you ask me however Nintendo’s problem starts with their approach to stereoscopic 3D support from the beginning and they have probably realized that now and want to make things the proper way, if it is not too late. As a product the Nintendo 3DS was a nice thing, but with a bit outdated features when it was released – small 3D screens, not very powerful for more realistic graphics, even the 3D camera was with pretty low resolution. Not to mention that there weren’t a lot of interesting game titles supporting stereoscopic 3D mode and some of the extra 3D features that you’d expect from a device like the Nintendo 3DS weren’t implemented at first, but were added via updates later on. This clearly shows that Nintendo was not ready with the 3DS when they’ve released it and that they did not have a very clear idea what they were doing, they probably saw the boom of interest in 3D as something that is going to bring back gamers to Nintendo.

A year later Nintendo has finally realized some of the problems they’ve had with the 3DS, so they have released a slightly bigger Nintendo 3DS XL console, but it essentially address only the smaller screen size and all the drawbacks of the 3DS. But for the sake of retaining full compatibility Nintendo couldn’t just go and upgrade other hardware inside the new XL console, so it is still outdated, even though it is offering stereoscopic 3D support with no glasses required. Another thing that Nintendo apparently did not think over initially is the target audience for the Nintendo 3DS console, clearly a lot of it is small kids and there are still a lot of concerns about the use of stereo 3D by young children. Hopefully by now Nintendo has also realized based on experience that 3D should not be there in games just to briefly wow you and then to constantly annoy you with with things in a game intentionally made to look “impressive” in stereoscopic 3D mode. Instead the 3D in games should be used as a tool to better tell the story of the game or make the experience seem more realistic, this is something that 3D movie makers have learned already and successful 3D movies show this is the right way to do things. So Nintendo should not blame the 3D as the reason that their product was not as successful as they probably expected, but instead should look for the reasons why it was not and try to make it right the next time from the beginning.

Next up is Sony and their PlayStation 3 console that has been updated to support stereoscopic 3D games and Blu-ray 3D movie playback, definitely a nice addition to bring back the console up to date with new trends some time after the hype around it has been totally gone since its initial release. The truth however is that PlayStation 3 is also a bit outdated in terms of hardware in order to compete with up to date PC graphics, especially if you add stereoscopic 3D rendering on top of a game. And a lot of gamers would prefer to have better 2D graphics in a game than to sacrifice some of the quality and get it rendered in stereoscopic 3D mode. Furthermore, in regards with the not so powerful hardware in the PS3, Sony has not developed a solution to allow older games to be converted in stereoscopic 3D mode – it would probably be too taxing for the console and even more graphics details should’ve been sacrificed to make things work, not to mention that there would’ve been some issues in games not being rendered in stereoscopic 3D mode properly. So Sony decided to start right from the beginning with new game titles optimized to support the new stereoscopic 3D mode, not so bad choice with regards to the things mentioned above, and the right way to offer proper stereoscopic 3D experience for the gamers even though sometimes compromises have to be made. The problem with that decision lies in the initial lack of content and having just one or two hit titles supporting stereo 3D did not help that much either. So the PS3 was initially more of a Blu-ray 3D player, though initially the number of movies available on BD 3D media also was somewhat lacing and even now it is still not that big, but at least it is constantly increasing. Sony however knew about these things, and most of all that it will take some time, because for Sony 3D support is not just about the PlayStation 3 console, the company is working on a whole ecosystem of 3D-capable products – 3D HDTVs, 3D projectors, 3D cameras and camcorders etc. And we should not forget the fact that even before adding stereoscopic 3D support the PS3 was already a successful product, so the 3D support here is just an extra to bring back user interest and increase the life of the product some more before the next generation becomes available.

Moving up to the third major player in the console gaming – Microsoft and their Xbox 360 game console. Microsoft was on the catching up side of things, though they followed a similar approach to Sony with the PS3. Initially Microsoft was not interested at all in adding stereoscopic 3D support to the Xbox 360, but that did not stop some game developers to experiment and add stereo 3D support using anaglyph or Side by Side and Over-Under output modes in their games. A bit later on Microsoft has finally added official support for stereoscopic 3D output for their console, but still the company did not focus that much on stereo 3D support in order to help game developers make more games that support the new feature. Stereoscopic 3D support was there, so that just Microsoft could say: “yes, we also support stereo 3D on our console like the competition”. The number of games supporting stereoscopic 3D mode on the Xbox is much less than on the PS3, and there is also the added confusion among customers between the support for the old non official stereo 3D rendering outputs and the new official one making it even harder for gamers that are not so knowledgeable in stereo 3D to make the decision to get a 3D display and try the feature on the Xbox 360. Microsoft however is not complaining, as stereo 3D support was never a key feature for them, as I’ve said they probably just wanted to be able to say “we support that as well, so the competition has no advantage over out our product”. But we need not forget that Microsoft is more of a software company than a hardware one and their focus is still mostly on the computers than on mobile devices and gaming consoles, though these are markets that they are actively developing as they still play the role of catching up to the competition, unlike with PCs where you can say they are the market leader and they set the trends. Just a reminder that one of the features that the new Windows 8 is going to have is native stereoscopic 3D support for output on compatible 3D display hardware.

Now, moving to PCs. Here we have two major players – AMD (ATI) and Nvidia, with both companies stereoscopic 3D mode for professional applications for quite a while along with different level of consumer level stereoscopic 3D support. Nvidia has been supporting stereoscopic 3D for years already dating back to CRT displays, however when the switch to LCD monitors happened the company has stopped developing their more generic stereoscopic 3D driver and has later on returned with a “new version” of the driver with the 3D Vision technology launch, focusing a lot more on stereo 3D support than before. AMD (ATI) has been working with middle-ware partners such as iZ3D and DDD for quite a while not having that much direct involvement, but lately they have become more active and have introduced their HD3D technology. The problem with the solutions offered by both companies is that they have strict hardware requirements and will not work on just about any 3D display that you can pick up. And while the iZ3D Driver and DDD’s TriDef 3D solutions provide more generic support for different stereoscopic 3D viewing methods, Nvidia’s 3D Vision is more closed and limited in terms of supported modes. The lack of common standard here and interoperability between the two solutions with different hardware is what is essentially confusing the users and if they decide to try and build a 3D setup and don’t get all the requirements correctly they often end up giving up on stereo 3D for a while. Both AMD and Nvidia do support 3D HDTVs through their solutions, meaning that it is easier to use a certain model of a 3D HDTV with each of the stereoscopic 3D solutions, however PC gamers generally prefer to go for 120Hz 3D LCD displays that can provide 1080p 3D mode with 60Hz per eye as well as 120HZ refresh rate when playing in non-stereoscopic 3D mode. The good thing is that both solutions work well with older games as well as with newer titles, converting them into stereoscopic 3D mode in real-time, though some games may have various issues as they have not been optimized to be used in stereoscopic 3D mode when being developed. Intel has also joined with promoting stereoscopic 3D support on their integrated graphics solutions, but not for gaming of course, instead it is for photo and movie playback in stereoscopic 3D mode, though only their more recent and higher-end processors with integrated graphics only meet the requirements for that.

Another thing that is more recently also getting a momentum in stereoscopic 3D support on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets with the reason behind that being the fact that the processing power of these devices has greatly increased and allows them to also provide good stereoscopic 3D experience even in games. The situation with the 3D-capable mobile devices is pretty much the same as with other solutions, what is delaying their faster adoption is mostly the lack of good stereoscopic 3D content to use on them.

So what is clearly still an issue ahead of all stereoscopic 3D gaming solutions – on consoles or on PC, is the lack of enough good content – stereoscopic 3D movies and stereoscopic 3D games. You need to have a big choice of quality 3D content, no matter if it is games or movies. So now that all of these companies are having the hardware, though it may not be perfect or easy to use for beginners (another issue), they should start focusing on making good 3D content for it. Without good content to play on your stereoscopic 3D hardware you’d quickly conclude that it is pointless and stupid thing, especially considering the price you need to play to get things working, with the most affordable solution being the Nintendo 3DS, though far from being the best one. So what is the conclusion of all this, instead of blaming the 3D technology for not being good enough, widely accessible, or easy to be used, all of the above companies should be pushing more not only to improve in these areas, but mostly to provide more and I stress on MORE good 3D content for their products. It is simple as that, focus more on 3D content and not on 3D technology, and it seems that things are still being done the other way around.

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AMD With New 6800 series GPUs and the AMD HD3D Technology

October 22nd, 2010 · 28 Comments · Other S3D Tech


AMD is talking stereo 3D again and their stereoscopic 3D support, based on the open stereoscopic 3D initiative they’ve announced a while ago, and now they have given it a name – it is called AMD HD3D Technology. The list of supported hardware includes all the Radeon HD 5000 and the two new announcements from the HD 6000 series, although apparently only the new Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 support GPU-accelerated Blu-ray 3D playback. Still, considering the fact that AMD is dependent on their partners like DDD and iZ3D for the actual software that creates the stereoscopic 3D output from games, you can use even older hardware with most of the supported 3D viewing solutions. However if you want to take advantage of the new active shutter glasses and a 120Hz LCD monitor, then you should have one of the newer video cards that also have built-in driver level support in order to ensure good synchronization with the shutter glasses.



On their website AMD is still not giving out a lot of information, but they do have a big list of supported 3D HDTVs, 3D DLP projectors, as well as a few of the first solutions that do utilize an AMD GPU, along with stereoscopic 3D support and shutter glasses. These we already know of, but just to mention them again: the new HP Envy 17 with 5850, the MSI Wind Top AE2420 AIO PC with 5730, and the new Viewsonic V3D241wm-LED monitor. Of course there are a few other solutions that do not use active shutter glasses already available that can be used with AMD GPUs and these are the iZ3D display, Zalman’s Trimon passively polarized monitors, some laptops with passive polarization from Acer and Lenovo and quite a few other commercial or custom built products that can be used to provide stereoscopic 3D support.



One important thing again related to the new Radeon HD 6850/6870 GPUs is the fact that they do come with DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a connectors that both do support stereoscopic 3D output. Of course we are yet to see some 120Hz LCD monitors that do use DisplayPort, however the availability of HDMI 1.4a ensures compatibility with all the 3D-capable consumer hardware such as 3D HDTVs already available and the upcoming 3D home cinema projectors with the same interface. So the new GPUs do have support for HDMI 1.4a and the frame packing specifications used for stereo 3D content distribution over the interface, however you still need to have something to provide the 3D content, so you still need the iZ3D Driver or TriDef’s Ignition software to convert games for example, or a software Blu-ray 3D player to output the movie.



One related announcement to the new AMD news is the fact that the new DeusEX: Human Revolution game, supporting DX11 will also have stereoscopic 3D support available. And AMD is claiming support for over 400 game titles in stereoscopic 3D mode through its two main software partners for the gaming in S3D part – iZ3D and DDD. With the company also promising more native stereoscopic 3D games to come out in 2011 (we already know of some like Crysis 2). On the Blu-ray 3D software players support AMD is working with the same major companies like Nvidia is doing with Cyberlink’s PowerDVD 10 Ultra 3D going to be the first to provide the support for hardware accelerated Blu-ray 3D playback of movies from your PC. This will happen on November 5th through a software update that is expected to be released by Cyberlink.



There are however still a lot of unanswered questions like for example will we be able to use lets say an older 120Hz LCD monitor that was introduced with 3D Vision support with AMD’s solution with a new pair of shutter glasses. Will there be only shutter glasses available and not as a bundle at all and who will be selling them or we are going to go for an “open” initiative with 120Hz LCD monitors that are only going to be usable with AMD’s stereo 3D solution and that need to be bought with the glasses bundled. AMD is currently talking about 3D gaming and 3D video, but what about 3D photography that is also gaining more interest… is there support for viewing 3D photos without having to resort to third party software that may or may not work? And what about Eyefinity with stereo 3D support? DX 10 and DX11 support are still quite a bit of a problem for both iZ3D, who have beta support that is kind of working, and DDD who still don’t have anything available to support DX10/11 games. And more and more and more… I’m hoping to soon be able to test the HP Envy 17 laptop to get some first hand impressions from the active shutter glasses support that AMD is starting to offer, because I’ve already had some experience with other stereo 3D products based on both iZ3D and DDD. And I’m eager to get more information from AMD about their stereo 3D support…

For a list of AMD supported GPUs and other hardware for stereo 3D support…

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When to Expect a Solution Based on ATI’s Open Stereo 3D Initiative

July 26th, 2010 · 9 Comments · Other S3D Tech


ATI has been talking about their upcoming stereoscopic 3D support utilizing 120Hz LCD monitors and active shutter glasses for quite some time already, and although we expected a complete working solution as early as this summer, things did not work out so well. So now, according to an interview with ATI made by Digital Versus we are going to wait a few more months (second half of the year), but we should see the complete working solution before the end of the year, maybe just in time for Christmas.

Now when talking about openness, ATI is open to supporting different standards and hardware, along with middleware software, but in the end you will most likely be required to have an AMD/ATI-based video card in order to use one such solution. This is of course normal, as ATI will want to sell you their hardware as well as Nvidia does, to use when watching any kind of stereo 3D content. So although ATI in general seems to be more open, the end results seems to be not that different than what Nvidia is doing with their 3D Vision product. You can say that a really open approach is what companies like iZ3D and DDD are doing with their drivers/software that do support multiple stereoscopic 3D solutions and work on all video cards, no matter if they are based on ATI or Nvidia GPUs. What we actually need are standards that will allow interoperability and the users will not have to think now do I have a compatible video card for that solution, or will this 3D monitor work for me or not, or what shutter glasses should I get.

And example that I’ve been seeing a lot lately of not having good interoperability that is confusing the users and making them wonder why is the fact that they cannot use their 3D-capable monitors and 3D DLP projectors to display 3D content from their PlayStation 3 console. The reason for that being that the PS3 sends the stereo 3D signal to a 3D capable display according to the HDMI 1.4(a) stereo 3D specifications and not a single one of the 120Hz 3D LCD monitors is capable of understanding and displaying 3D content sent this way. Of course you need to buy a 3D HDTV to play stereo 3D games from your PS3 console, but then again you’ll also have to buy a 120Hz 3D LCD monitor for your PC, as you will currently also have trouble connecting and using your new 3D HDTV to your PC. So being an early adopter has its advantages, but also comes with a lot of disadvantages and trying to cover more things and work with more partners like ATI does not only means bigger delays, but might as well mean more problems.

If you take a look at how much time the 3D Vision has been available on the market already and how Nvidia is having trouble to convince the hardware and software manufacturers to work on products that support it, not to mention that for more than a year and a half the software and hardware support is still far from being perfect. Now imagine what will be the situation when ATI’s complete stereoscopic 3D solution finally becomes available… I expect a lot of issues to be present at first and it will take some time for all of these to be fixed, and that is something that everyone of the early adopters of 3D Vision is well aware of. Now the 3D Vision already has a lot of users, has a larger community and this also helps a lot in reporting problem and improving the S3D support of the product. But ATI will need some time before reaching the critical mass of users that will have all the needed hardware and software and users that are willing to experiment, test and report issues, even make optimizations and workarounds for better experience etc.

So although I’m eagerly expecting to see what will ATI offer at the end as their complete stereo 3D ecosystem using shutter glasses (I’m a 3D enthusiast after all), I’m not trying to lie myself that it will be a problem free solution, perfect from the start and much better than what 3D Vision currently offers. Yes, it might be better in some aspects, but I don’t think that it will be that different in terms of overall experience for the users. And finally getting some competition between ATI and Nvidia in the stereo 3D area too may help in faster and better development of the software and hardware needed for that, and let us just hope that ATI will be as active as Nvidia in pushing both software and hardware companies into adding stereo 3D support in their products or releasing new stereo 3D-capable products. After all this can only benefit us, the end users that just want better and more affordable solutions for enjoying stereoscopic 3D content of all kinds, isn’t that right? Not to mention that we do need more stereoscopic 3D content available and in that area things are still moving a bit slowly, especially regarding 3D photo and 3D video, as the situation with games is better. However we also need both ATI and Nvidia to work more closely with the game developers in order for the upcoming games to have better stereoscopic 3D support and thus less or no issues in S3D mode at all, so that playing these will be much more fun… ;)

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