3D Vision Blog

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

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The H.265/HEVC Standard is Probably Coming Sooner than Later

January 30th, 2013 · No Comments · Other S3D Tech


High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) or H.265 is a new video compression standard that is being developed by a Joint Collaborative Team of ISO/IEC MPEG and ITU-T VCEG (JCT-VC) for a while already as the successor of the currently very widely adopted H.264 (AVC) standard. The H.265/HEVC has now entered in its final standardization stage and is probably going to be fully approved as a standard very soon, though it will take a while before it becomes widely available in all kinds of devices as the H.264 already is. The final Draft 10 has been presented a few days ago and had received first stage approval (consent) in the ITU-T Alternative Approval Process, so it can be just a month away from getting approved, and a the same time MPEG also announced that HEVC is entering their Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) status which can take two months to have it approved as an International Standard. And if you are wondering why it is important to have the successor of the H.264 standard approved and getting implemented in both software and hardware sooner than later, then you need to think about things such as 4K HDTVs (the standard supports up to 8K), HFR 3D (HEVC will support higher framerates) and other new technologies and products that are going to have more demands in terms of video resolution and storage/bandwidth requirements.

The original idea behind the HEVC is to improve the compression efficiency by a factor of at least two compared to the H.264/AVC compression standard for the same content retaining the same quality and though that goal might not be achieved in all conditions, the results demonstrated from the not yet fully finalized new HEVC compression standard are very promising. Of course the reduction of the bitrate requirements while retaining the same level of quality can only be achieved by increasing the complexity of the algorithms used for the compression and decompression of the video. This means slight increase in the time needed to compress HEVC/H.265 video as compared to H.264, but the decoding process is what will be more performance demanding, especially when going for higher resolutions than 1080p. Of course we are probably going to be getting hardware acceleration for encoding/decoding as well as dedicated hardware made to handle the extra load in devices such as HDTVs.

Now, you may be wondering how is H.265/HEVC going to be important for you in regards to stereoscopic 3D video support. Unfortunately the current Draft 10 does not cover stereoscopic 3D support, though such is going to be available via extensions of HEVC in order for it so also fully support stereoscopic 3D as well as multiview video and other more advanced features such as 12-bit video as well as 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 chroma formats, but we may have to wait until January next year for these extensions to become available. That should not worry you as you are not going to see H.265 available everywhere overnight, it is a process that will take a few years and meanwhile H.264 will most likely remain as the standard, the speed of adoption depends a lot on the industry and how soon H.264 will start hitting its limits a lot, so that the adoption of the successor may be speeded up. But for now we are still at least a month or two before the H.265/HEVC gets its final approval.

Now you can find a lot of similarities here between the H.264 and the upcoming H.265 standard and that is normal as the new one builds on top of the old one and further improves on some features as well as adds new ones. And similar to how the Multiview Video Coding (MVC) extension of the H.264/AVC standard was added as a means to ensure high-quality and resolution 3D video over a medium such as Blu-ray 3D, the upcoming H.265/HEVC will have a similar extension using the Multiview Video plus Depth (MVD) format. The new MVD format is going to be addressing one of the drawbacks that MVC has and that is to be able to provide multiview data for display on autostereoscopic 3D displays in a standardized way without having to increase that much the bit rate required for encoding the additional views. The 3D HEVC extension has been proposed to MPEG and VCEG and was chosen as the starting point for the development of an HEVC-based 3D video coding standard, but as already mentioned this will take some more time. The idea behind the H.265/HEVC and the 3D HEVC extensions relying on MVD is to ensure that the new video compression standard will be future-proof, so it will not only provide features that we are starting to get the need for at the moment, but also support for features that might be required in a few years from now.

More information and resources about the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) or H.265…

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Taking Advantage of the Lightboost Technology for 2D 120Hz Gaming

January 28th, 2013 · 10 Comments · Other S3D Tech

By now all of you should be aware of the fact that the newer 3D Vision ready monitors (including 3D displays in gaming laptops) supporting the Lightboost technology are a much better choice for stereoscopic 3D gaming than the older models, but it turns out that going for a Lightboost-enabled 3D monitor can benefit 2D gamers that want to take advantage of the supported 120Hz refresh rate. What the Lightboost technology does is to strobe the backlight instead of having it always on like on traditional monitors, and while this leads a lower overall brightness in 2D mode (actually making it look brighter in stereo 3D mode and with less crosstalk). The strobing of the backlight with Lightboost enabled makes the backlight turn on only when the pixels have reached their final stage in building the new image and the backlight stays off while the pixels transition from one stage to another. As a result all motion blur is being eliminated, making fast movements appear much smoother now. You can see how the image is being shown on the display without Lightboost enabled and with Lightboost on on the slow-motion video above made by Mark Rejhon who has experimented a bit with Lightboost and shared his interesting findings in our forum.

If you already have a 3D Vision ready setup and are using Acer HN274H B, ASUS VG728H or BENQ XL2420TX Lightboost-enabled 3D Vision ready monitor with integrated IR emitter, or have ASUS VG248QE, ASUS VG278HE, BENQ XL2420T or BENQ XL2411T along with an external 3D Vision IR emitter you can easily enable Lightboost in 2D mode as well. In fact some of you may have unintentionally seen this happen after exiting a game played in stereo 3D mode with the monitor remaining in 3D mode when back in the desktop (it seems darker than normal). All you have to do is set the Nvidia driver to always have the 3D monitor set in 3D mode from the Stereoscopic 3D panel int he Nvidia Control Center. The only disadvantage of having Lightboost enabled in 2D mode (have the monitor always run in stereo 3D mode) is that the brightness is lower than it is with Lightboost not being enabled, so you may need to increase the contrast more than you need it in stereo 3D mode. And while the lower brightness caused by the backlight not being constantly on due to the Lightboost being active can be considered as a disadvantage, these 3D monitors have way too high brightness in 2D mode anyway, so the reduction isn’t that bad, it actually brings the level of brightness closer to the level that won’t tire your eyes that much over a long periods of use… and you have no motion blur anymore.

And if you are not using 3D Vision and only have a 3D Vision-capable display, but no integrated IR emitter or an external one you would have to resort to using and EDID INF override driver to make the Nvidia drivers think that you actually have a compatible 3D monitor with full support for 3D Vision. This actually makes the ASUS VG248QE, ASUS VG278HE, BENQ XL2420T or BENQ XL2411T 120Hz capable monitors a lot more interesting for people that are willing to be able to play games in 120Hz 2D mode and don’t care much about stereoscopic 3D gaming. The reason you need to trick the video drivers you have 3D Vision is that the Lightboost technology has been developed for use in stereoscopic 3D gaming, and though it can also benefit people playing in 2D, probably nobody though about that at the time is has been developed. So without the drivers thinking you have support for 3D Vision (even if you don’t actually have IR emitter) you can still enable Lightboost in 2D mode.

You can take a look at Mark Rejhon’s blog for some more details on the topic…

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Quick Test for Vision Acuity for Better Stereoscopic 3D Viewing

January 21st, 2013 · 1 Comment · Other S3D Tech

I’ve already talked multiple times about how vision issues can lead to bad experience when viewing stereoscopic 3D content, but still a lot of people believe that their vision is good enough and it is certainly not causing them any problems, and instead the stereo 3D content is bad or the technology is not good enough. And while the case may be that you are watching some bad quality 2D to 3D conversion, or using bad quality S3D viewing technology, even the viewing conditions may not be good enough and so on resulting in a bad experience, you could also have some issues with your vision as well. Have in mind that having trouble when watching stereo 3D content can be a hint that you need to go to a specialist to examine your eyes as you might just need to get a glasses (or new ones if you are already wearing prescription glasses), but sometimes there could be a more serious issue that needs extra attention. Having a normal vision (normal visual acuity), often referred to as 20/20 vision or 6/6 vision is good sign that your eyes are Ok and if you are experiencing trouble when watching stereoscopic 3D content, then the issue might be in something else. You need to be sure that the problem is not within your eyes as good eye health and proper vision is important in our everyday life and not only for watching stereo 3D content. Having vision problems such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism or presbyopia can also cause issues with having good experience when watching stereoscopic 3D content, so if you suffer from any of those you will need to wear the proper prescription glasses or lenses in order to correct them and have normal vision restored.

How do you know if you need to go see a specialist and have your eyes examined? I’ve already mentioned that having trouble when watching stereoscopic 3D content such as experiencing headache, dizziness, disorientation or nausea while watching or after watching something in stereo 3D is a good sign that you might need to go see a specialist. But you can use another simple test that can help you give you an idea on what is your vision acuity at home and see if you need to go to a specialist and have your vision examined. All you need is a printer and a friend to help you take a test of your vision by using a version of the popular Snellen eye chart, variation of which is often used by eye care professionals to check patient’s vision. You need to download and print the eye chart from the link below (A4 size version and Letter version available), make sure you use the actual size when printing and don’t resize to fit. Then hang it on a wall in a well lit room (including the chart) with a friend staying next to the chart to help you take the test, measure 10 feet (or 3 meters) from the chart and stand there. Normally the distance is 20 feet or 6 meters with larger chart, but since you may have trouble finding the needed space the charts have been resized for taking the test at half that distance. To take the test you need to first cover one of your eyes with the palm of your hand and try to read aloud all the letters you see line by line the best you can, and the person helping you checks if you have read them correctly marking where and how many mistakes you make (if you make any). Then you change the eyes and repeat the procedure again with the person helping you noting where you make mistakes, if you make any, so that you can compare the results from both eyes as they may have different level of vision acuity.

And now comes the time to check the results. If you are able to read without making any mistakes all of the letters top to the bottom of the chart with both eyes, this means that you have what is considered to be normal vision (maybe even better than that), so you have no reason to worry. If you are having trouble reading without a mistake not only the bottom line, but the 2-3 of the ones above it, then you probably have a near-normal vision which normally should not cause you problems, but it is still a good to check your eyes. The suggestion to go see a specialist is even more important if you have a difference of two or three lines from the chart that you have no trouble reading with one of your eyes and the other. If you are having trouble properly reading even higher lines in the chart or the difference between what you can read with your left eye is even bigger than with your right eye you must go and see a specialist to have your vision examined. If you are already wearing contact lenses or prescription glasses you might want to do the test with and without wearing them to see what will be the results. This way the test may also give you an idea if you need to increase or decrease the diopter you currently have in case your vision has improved or became worse than the last time you’ve had it examined.

Have in mind that this simple way to check your vision is just to give you a basic idea on how good it is and is intended more to give you a hint if you need to go and see a specialist and have your eyes examined. It is not intended to replace a proper eye examination by a specialist, it might just point out the need for doing such an exam! Have in mind that the above test is not intended to directly check for potential problems of your stereoscopic vision, it is for checking the vision acuity. I do hope that you find this useful…

To download the test Snellen eye chart for printing on A4 size paper…
To download the test Snellen eye chart for printing on Letter size paper…

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