The hunt for decent 3D

In the last few years scouring the ‘Tube for 3D vids I have still only found one that seems to hit the ball out of the park. At the beginning of last year someone finally posted an HD version that uses Youtube’s 3D platform.

From what I can find out, Pangea The Neverending World hasn’t yet made it out of trailer form. It’s a proof of concept developed by a Hungarian animation studio: Aenima CGS. Someone should give them some money to make the full thing!

Of all the 3D content now on Youtube this lengthy trailer has the best 3D I’ve seen. Creatures and foliage loom out of the screen and the world feels layered and deep. It’s a pity there isn’t more work that shows this attention to detail. Even in nasty anaglyph (red/blue glasses) the 3D detail is palpable.

Be sure to watch it fullscreen, in the dark, in 1080p!

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve gotten sick of clicking through so many videos on Youtube claiming to be 3D that are either badly transferred or just badly made in the source so I’ve started putting together a Youtube Playlist of 3D videos that are worth watching. It’s very small at the moment but I intend to grow it as I discover more videos that are worth the time. Please let me know if you find any and I’ll add them to the list!

3D Gaming Sux… if you’re BLIND

I realised I haven’t posted a lot of game stuff on ‘the interactivist’ because I’m posting that on PlayMaker. But as that’s always about NZ development I can at least post about some of the stuff I’ve been playing that isn’t from NZ.¬†Problem is, I haven’t been playing a lot lately haha.

It’s a sad thing when it feels like a luxury to play a game but I’ve been fairly busy. However, I’m well aware it’s a bit rich to call yourself a game designer if you don’t play games! The problem for me is that I like playing the big games – big story, big setting, loooooooong play time. I don’t enjoy FPS multiplayer anymore because I don’t put in enough time to last longer than 5 seconds against the tween assassins out there.

I have Assassin’s Creed II to play through. Yes, I haven’t even made it to Brotherhood yet. But I’ve held off AC2 because I want to put aside a good chunk of time to really get into it. I played Assassin’s Creed 1 in stereoscopic 3D and it was such a great experience that I wanted to do the same with 2. And I know from experience that you can get well caught up in a game that you’re fully immersed in…

What I’m sick of are all the web commenters out there who say that 3D is crap, a gimmick, a passing fad. What is a passing fad, perhaps, are the glasses – the way we view 3D now. But if you’ve ever seen 3D gaming with the right settings (not as straightforward as you’d think – see below) you can’t compare 2D gaming at all. I can understand that some people don’t like it, don’t get it yet, and aren’t impressed with our current standard. But to outright deny 3D as the next step in visual media is stupid.

Put your 3D glasses on… now.

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve never had a more immersive experience than when I was playing in stereoscopic 3D. I’ve never felt more fully transported to another world. It’s like the difference between sound and colour and black and white silent – if not greater. I played Tomb Raider 1 on a huge projector screen for an entire weekend when it first came out and me and a friend at the time were completely caught up in the experience. I played Tomb Raider Anniversary – the remake of the first game – in stereoscopic 3D a few years ago and felt like I’d taken a revolutionary step forward in immersion. COD4′s modern warfare genre is not something I’d usually play but as soon as I started up the first level and landed on the boat I was sold. I pretty much didn’t put either COD4, TRA or AC1 down when I picked them up in 3D. Hence my need to hold off on AC2 for now…

The problem with 3D gaming is that you can manually fiddle with the convergence and depth settings. This is a problem because they aren’t automatically set for you and different games require different settings to best convey the experience. It’s also a problem because the settings I’ve found on the net that are supposedly “optimal” seem to be setup in most cases to reduce eyestrain. That’s obviously not a bad thing but I’m convinced the better experience to be had in 3D should strain your eyes – at least, at first.¬†I found that pushing the settings so that you were right inside the world was the most immersive thing to do (sounds obvious but when you see what an initial strain that is it seems better, at first, to push the settings back). When we made our 3D music video we had a number of 3D technologists who essentially said that the common concern about eyestrain was a storm in a teacup as the effect was something that your eyes eventually adjusted to – like most things we experience that push us physically in some way.

To ensure the best experience you also have to have your screen fill your field of view. That generally means sitting right in front of your monitor. I haven’t tried PS3 3D yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony have gone with ‘safe’ settings by default when it comes to convergence and depth, thus lessening the overall experience. And how many people sit close enough to their TV to have it fill their field of view?

Bah! I’ve got a lot more to say on 3D but I’ve blathered enough for now. I’ll make a more readable bullet-point list at some stage in the future!