NVIDIA 3D Vision Live

Enjoying S-3D content today means going to the local Cineplex or shelling out for a 3DTV and 3D Blu-ray player or Set-Top-Box, and enjoying the handful of titles that are available. PC gaming has offered another avenue to S-3D enjoyment, and compared to a 3DTV and Blu-ray player, a 3D monitor for a PC is relatively affordable. But not everyone is big on gaming so what to do?

One possible answer is enjoying 3D content on your 3D PC. There are lots of 3D videos on YouTube (search using: yt3d:enable=true), but to watch them using anything other than anaglyph, you must first download them to your local hard drive and then use something like Stereoscopic Player to watch them. This works great, but it is not efficient.

Another solution in the works is from NVIDIA, who is looking to expand their brand into the consumer video with a portal; 3D Vision Live. The portal is officially ‘beta’ and the company is soliciting feedback as to what people are wanting from the site, although the first question has already been answered: Is the web a viable medium for distribution of 3D content? Yes, according to NVIDIA.

When you visit 3D Vision Live, the site automatically determines if you have NVIDIA 3D Vision installed on your PC. If so, your screen will blank momentarily as they turn off the ‘Aero’ feature in Windows (which seems to be a common requirement with S-3D software), your IR Emitter is turned on, and voila, the video in the middle of the screen begins playing - in a window - in stereoscopic 3D.

We know that DirectX doesn’t natively support Quad Buffered Stereo like OpenGL, because DirectX does not have a stereo API. So NVIDIA is using their own API for now (Windows 8 is expected to have an S-3D API). The video player is Microsoft’s Silverlight, which combined with some custom code from NVIDIA allows the player to communicate with the 3D Vision driver. This combination unpacks the video (either Top-and-Bottom or Side-by-Side) and renders it out frame-sequential. All rendering is done on the client PC.

Silverlight seems like an unusual choice for the streaming technology as Adobe’s Flash enjoys dominant player market share, especially with all of the YouTube content. NVIDIA can use Flash for this application, and indeed showed a Flash-based demo of 3D Vision Live at NAB streaming 3D content from YouTube. When it came time to launch 3D Vision Live, however, Adobe was not as aggressive as Microsoft in rolling out 3D support. Adobe is planning to support S-3D in a future release of Flash, but Microsoft was willing to provided resources to work with NVIDIA to get S-3D streaming to work in this beta environment.

NVIDIA has plans to expand 3D Vision Live with updates planned for later in October, more updates in November and yet another round of updates just before CES in January. They are planning to improve content and features, such as DRM support, off-line viewing, support for Flash and HTML5, support for YouTube 3D videos, more content from movie and game studios (possibly segregated into channels) and some way to directly monetize this investment, perhaps creating a 3D video marketplace.

3D Vision Live, while still in beta, provides a surprisingly streamlined user experience to enjoy S-3D content - it figures out what you have and plays the content appropriately. For those of us that have used S-3D on our PCs for the past couple of years, this is the first time that it actually works as advertised. Let’s hope that they can get more content so that we can move from the ‘gee-whiz’ phase to actually watching something entertaining.

By Dale Maunu, DisplayDaily