Thursday, January 12, 2012


 There are several years already since I first started playing in 3D (around 2002). The 3D technologies were then almost nonexistent compared to today's possibilities. The 3D materials were also very limited. I tried and studied almost all possibilities (shutters, anaglyphs, mirrors) and every single affordable 3D method has its pros and cons: price, ghosting, color reproduction, brightness, ergonomics, size etc.

 It would be a lot to discuss about all the methods, but I will focus on the simplest of all: the FREEVIEW 3D aka cross-eye 3D aka cross-view 3d. I know a lot of  people (with healthy vision) think they cannot use this method. Well, they can.

The only requirements are: 2 healthy eyes and the ability to clearly focus on close-up (e.g. 20cm). There are lots of "how-to" sites (example) with tutorials for learning to view 3d with this method. I think the "focus on pen" method works fastest.

 I tried to find medical warnings about using this method and I couldn't find any real awareness. So all I know is what happened to me. Like most people who first tried cross-eye 3d, I had difficulties focusing and I thought I'll never be able to master the technique. When I finally started to gain focus, I was completely stunned by the picture's quality (light, color, crispness, 3d depth).

Here's a very nice sample from the well-known FUEL arcade racing game:

Here's another one from X-Men Origins: Wolverine
 So, I started watching more and more samples, until my eyes got the move. It's true, at first I felt the slight pain in the eyes. It came from the muscles that were never used in such way. It's a kind of muscle-fever in fact, but it doesn't last long. The eye muscles and the brain did a great effort in learning this completely new technique. Remember how you learned to ride the bike. It's interesting that the bike analogy doesn't stop here: once you learned how to cross-view 3d, you will never forget it. Also, the more you use it, the easier it gets. It is indeed like riding a bike.

What I can tell at this moment is that my "freeview 3d mode" has became totally painless and relaxing, while my normal eyesight is still working as intended. Also, "switching" from normal view to cross eye 3d is almost instant, regardless of the picture size I'm starring at.

 Shortly, the pros and cons of freeview 3d are
               pros: - can be used on any type of display (the bigger the better)
                       - full color
                       - full brightness
                       - ghosting / crosstalk completely eliminated
                       - allows extreme 3d separation

              cons: - takes a while to learn how to do it (solvable)
                        - might not be relaxing for everyone (at least in first 2-3 days - solvable)
                        - the 3d image size cannot be more than half of the entire screen size

 Freeview mode displays 3 images: the middle one is the composed 3D, but the first and the third are useless and, for the best effect, one should not see them. In other words, each eye should only see its own perspective image: left eye should only see the right side image, right eye should only see the left side image.

 This is where the "glasses" come in. In fact, no lenses are involved, but 2 shields that are simply blocking the unnecessary perspective for each eye.
 The near image represents the main idea for the shields, but cardboard and some imagination should prove equally efficient.
 I'm using "professional" home-made cardboard shields which are made of some cheap anaglyphs that come with 3d DVD movies.

 Again, every person having both healthy eyes, who can focus close-up can do this. I am currently playing games in freeview 3d on a 32" screen and it is relaxing, believe it or not.

 Having an ATI graphics card, I am using third party software (Iz3D - because it's flexible/I got used to it). Most probably, the solutions posted in my future posts will be more or less related to this configuration.

 I am continuously trying to get the best of this method with PC games. Should a game be awesome in 3d, I will post screenshots, clips. Should a game need a workaround or fix I found, it will be presented here.

 I'm always having hard times trying to get pieces of information for fixing games for crossview 3D, because except for some forums, there isn't any place where such information is gathered and organized. I hope I'll be able to offer such a feature for others embracing this 3D method.

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