Posted 9/Jul 2011 at 19:12
by in Film & Video read by 2635 people

Create 3D video without actual 3D camera

YouTube has several experimental features available on their TestTube page, one of them is a 3D Video Creator which lets you create a 3D enabled video. It works by simply selecting the left eye and right eye videos from your channel, letting YouTube figure out how many milliseconds the two videos are apart from eachother and BAM - you got your very own 3D video. I was eager to see it work.

One problem though, I don't actually own a 3D video camera. So I had to create my own. Which is actually not that hard. I took:

  • One piece of cardboard
  • Four cable ties
  • Two cameras

punched some holes in the cardboard, led the cable ties through them put the cameras on and within 10 minutes I had what it takes to create stereoscopic video. At least I hoped I did. I took my creation outside and shot some rather uninteresting footage of plants, a table and some chairs. After all, I was just testing to see if I could get it to play nice.

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Another 10 minutes later, the videos were uploading to YouTube. I opened the 3D Video Creator and very soon it became apparent that it was indeed a beta feature. It reported an Internal Sever Error a few times on the process of calculating the time offset between the two videos, sometimes refused to work.

Since it uses sound to calculate the time offset, I attached the cameras back on the cardboard and went back outside to record some new video. This time I played on of my favourite songs while recording the video and was more keen on trying to press the two record buttons at the same time.

Magic happened. Suddenly, YouTube had no more problems calculating the time offset and my very first 3D video was created about an hour after I started the process. See below:

Ok, far from perfect. But at some points in the video I can see some 3D effect. The fact that I used two different cameras probably didn't help me too much. That they both shot in each their aspect ratio helped even less. Here is some advice for anybody trying to do the same thing:

  1. Use two identical cameras with the same settings. This make sure that the left and right eye videos match in the best way possible
  2. Play a song in the background, or make some sound at the beginning of the video to help the syncing process
  3. Have the lenses of the two cameras as close to eachother as possible, preferrably about the distance there is between your own eyes.
  4. Depending on the distance between the lenses, there is a minimum distance between your improvised 3D camera and that you're trying to film. Getting too close will make it impossible for both cameras to actually see your subject.
  5. Test, check and adjust, then test, check and ajust again. And again again.

Good luck! I might be testing, checking and adjusting some more until maybe at some point I'll be able to get a better result. But it might be easier to get an actual 3D camera. Less fun though ;).

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