YouTube adds a 3D Conversion Tool

One of the biggest uphill climbs in 3D is the lack (quality and quantity) of content.  YouTube took big steps this week to address that by releasing a new tool that will in their words “convert 2D videos into 3D with a single click”. The announcement cheerfully adds “(beta!)”

YouTube has been supporting a variety of 3D formats quietly since 2009 and 3D cameras are just starting to gain some momentum in the consumer market. With this step YouTube fast forwards past the need to have special camera or third party conversion software. It will be interesting to see what creative application the new tool can have.

On the down side, this has the potential of reinforcing negative impressions of 3D based on inferior conversions.  Even though bad wedding videos don’t keep people from watching television, Clash of the Titans is held up as an example of why 3D will “never” work.

Other updates YouTube announced at the same time—the ability for accounts in good standing to upload long form content and the availability of two new online video editing tools—mean that more and better tools will be available to produce (we all hope) more and better content.  That’s good news.

Read the details on the YouTube blog, click here.

Stop the Presses! 3D actually GOOD for children?

This should make some industry insiders very very happy. The American Optometric Association (AOA) is releasing a report called 3D in the Classroom subtitled “See Well, Learn Well”. (See the announcement by clicking here).

Contrary to recent gloom-and-doom reports about the perils of 3D—including headaches, nausea, and damage to the vision of young children—the AOA is asserting that its research shows not only does use of 3D significantly enhance learning in the classroom, it’s useful in early identification of vision problems for early intervention and treatment. According to the AOA:

“…New 3D opportunities are underscored by two essential facts, 1) children often learn faster and retain more information in the 3D environment, and 2) the ability to perceive 3D and learn in 3D requires precise elements of ‘vision fitness’. Importantly, 3D vision fitness skills associated with eye alignment, eye tracking, and balanced and corrected refractive errors are also associated with improved overall reading and learning abilities.”

The announcement continues:

“The recent emergence of innovative 3D presentation technologies and 3D content in movie theaters, in the home, in video games and now in the classroom , perhaps surprisingly, provides  a unique public health opportunity. The ability to perceive depth in a 3D presentation – known as ‘stereopsis’– turns out to be a highly sensitive test of a range of vision health indicators.  It is much more sensitive than the standard eye chart that has been in use for 150 years, because it requires that both eyes function in a coordinated manner, as they converge, focus and track the 3D image.”

Variety has an excellent article by Michael Sullivan putting this into context for the high stakes emerging 3D business which ranges far beyond education to encompass entertainment, advertising, and gaming.  Addressing industry warning labels (Nintendo 3DS for example) he says:

“AOA began speaking out after Nintendo attached a warning on its new 3DS stating that the effect should not be used for children younger than 6. In a statement, the AOA disputed that assertion, saying, ‘Since vision develops from birth, it is crucial to uncover the type of vision disorders that may interfere with Nintendo 3D viewing at an early age. Accordingly, children younger than 6 can use the 3DS in 3D mode if their visual system is developing normally.’ Labels on most 3DTV sets also warn against prolonged viewing, despite the fact that there is no medical evidence that substantiates these warnings.”

My opinion: this is closer to a credible scientific insight than the alarmist news reports that have been proliferating recently.  But I am filing this under “Business of 3D” as well as “Science of 3D” because, well, I’m essentially a skeptic.  Debates around the dangers of smoking and climate change teach us that it’s not enough to see what is being said—it’s important to always see who is saying it and what’s in it for them.

So far, however, the pedigree of this report looks excellent and that’s great news for the 3D industry.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE! the report is available online here.

Dispatch from IBC 2011

IBC 2011 conference and trade show, Amsterdam: James Cameron and Vincent Pace are working the show: evangelizing about 3D, previewing a new Cirque du Soleil 3D film, and calling themselves “myth-busters” on the technical, aesthetic, and business aspects of the industry.  Here’s a video of them  talking about next gen 3D technology, 3D in broadcast, and indulging in some forecasting (glasses-free 3D in three to five years!)

It’s a press conference followed by a brief interview.  Cameron makes the important point:

3D isn’t going to save a bad movie, it’s still going to be storytelling…3D is not a guarantee that you are going to have a great time. You might be watching a very high quality version of a very poor film.

We feel that it’s incumbent on us as 3D practitioners to maintain the highest possible standard. We don’t want the 3D to be the thing that was wrong with the movie. Let the movie be a dog but don’t let the 3D be the reason you didn’t like it.

RESOURCE: 3DUniversity.net

The 3D@Home Consortium has put together a very thorough and detailed website called 3D University.net.  The site pulls together a lot of various information including entries on how 3D works, formats, a glossary, and a list of upcoming 3D release.