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YouTube turns HD into 3D

April 06, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • Videos on YouTube can be seen in 3D with the click of a mouse, either by crossing your eyes or sporting 3D glasses.
Videos on YouTube can be seen in 3D with the click of a mouse, either by crossing… (Bret Hartman / For The Times )

James Cameron, step aside. Your YouTube video is taking on a new dimension -- 3D.

Yes, you, too, can make either "Avatar" or "Titanic 3D," but shorter. In other words, whether you're shooting in 3D or in 2D (like the rest of us), your videos can become a beautiful blur of red and blue.

YouTube just took its 3D conversion out of beta and rolled it out to across the site. With the click of a button, short-form high-definition videos uploaded in 1080p now offer the three-dimensional flavor as well.

"In the same way we made editing features available ... we want a way to give editors and users more tools," said YouTube spokesman Matt McLernon.

Over the past year of beta testing, YouTube has fine-tuned back-end conversion, using a number of video characteristics such as color, spatial layout and motion for estimating a depth map for each from of a monoscopic video sequence. From that depth map and the original frame, a stereo 3D left and right pair is created -- 3D magic. 

If that's confusing, just know that you don't have to do anything but click a button to get to see a 3D version of an HD video on the site. 

Not everyone has 3D glasses stashed in their office drawer. In fact, there are so many different viewing options for the 3D setting, it's enough to make your eyes cross -- an actual viewing option.

For viewing without glasses, the options menu for 3D offers different displays for a variety of viewing techniques, including cross-eyed, parallel and mirror split. It's kind of cool to click through all of them to see how the image on the screen changes. 

Of course, you can use the different types of 3D glasses out there. And for every style, there are a number of fine-tuning settings available. Or make your own!

But that's about viewing. For content creators, you can convert your videos without altering the original upload. Go into the video once it’s uploaded, click on “edit info” and click “3D Video” in the top right of the menu. A little while after you select “please make this video 3D,” voila. (Check out LAT Consumer Columnist David Lazarus in 3D!)

And if you’ve shot something with a 3D camera, you can upload 3D video directly to YouTube instead of converting from 2D video, as long as it’s stereoscopic.

While YouTube is watched on almost any kind of monitor from a huge-screen TV to small smartphone screens, "the core experience is on the desktop version," McLernon said.

YouTube claims bragging rights on having the most HD content online, with 10% of its videos available in HD. Now, it may just be able to claim the most 3D video as well.

There are hundreds of thousands of 3D videos up now for your cross-eyed viewing pleasure.

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YouTube turns HD into 3D

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