|NVIDIA 3D-Vision Multimedia Resource Guide|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 27 September 2010|
NVIDIA 3D-Vision Multimedia Resource Guide
An enthusiast's guide to 3D Vision movies, games, and video entertainment resources
The finer things in life aren't always free, just ask anyone who enjoys an aged wine, exotic cheese, or gourmet food. Suffice it to say, there's a world of enjoyment available so long as you can afford it. Consumer electronics have a tradition of improving the quality of entertainment, and cutting-edge devices have paved a path for innovation over the past few years. Video quality has evolved from VHS to DVD, and now Blu-ray Disc offers unparallel resolution. In that same era, televisions transitioned from glass CRT screens to flat-panel technology, helping 1080p HDTV's become the standard. Even audio has made progress, growing out of stereo to 5.1 and later 7.1 surround sound. All of these improvements are closely inter-connected, yet computer gaming technology is actually driving the next stage of home theater enhancements: behold the age of 3D.
Despite several early preview appearances, NVIDIA first introduced their retail 3D Vision gaming kit just before the end of 2008. While the path towards widespread 3D acceptance has been long and difficult, nearly two years later we've arrived at a market rich with 3D innovation. 3D movies are showing in theaters across America, major sporting events are broadcast in 3D, Sony's PlayStation3 has gone three-dimensional, and now 3D HDTVs are a sought-after item. Many would credit NVIDIA's 3D-Vision technology for being the catalyst that launched a new era of visual entertainment, which is why there's a growing support for these features across platforms.
In this article, Benchmark Reviews presents our NVIDIA 3D-Vision Multimedia Resource Guide. Video games are a primary part of this article, and we'll share tips on optimizing convergence settings to produce eye-popping out-of-screen 3D effects. NVIDIA's 3D-Vision kit is capable of much more than video games, which is why we also offer sections on 3D video multimedia, 3D Blu-ray Disc movies, 3D photos, and Sony's PlayStation 3. Some of the information used here is available from the NVIDIA 3D Vision product site, however this guide organizes the topic into one convenient resource.
3D Video Games for PC
Video games are a great way to escape the stress and pressure of real life, and create an alter reality that seems more enjoyable. Video games place the player in past, present, and future timelines, within a world that mirrors our own, or creates a new one. The closer a game can get towards reproducing the realism of its world, the more immersed a player becomes in that game. Without question this is a goal that every video game developer has worked to accomplish since the dawn of shaded graphics, and they're slowly getting there. NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology bridges that gap, and brings real-world depth to the fantasy world of games.
Generally speaking, all PC video games will work fine with NVIDIA 3D Vision technology. It's been my personal experience that games branded with NVIDIA's The Way It's Meant To Be Played trademark offer an excellent 3D experience, while newer NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready game titles already come optimized for 3D Vision with out of screen effects available with convergence adjustments. NVIDIA rates the 3D experience possible from past game titles, and also maintains an updated list of NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready titles on their site: NVIDIA 3D Vision PC Video Games.
NOTE: Eye strain is a result of playing PC games with poor DirectX depth coding, or lack basic 3D optimizations. Games branded with The Way It's Meant To Be Played and 3D Vision Ready are best suited for extended 3D use.
Convergence Out of Screen Effects
Most modern polygon-based video games utilize the Cartesian coordinate system (X,Y,Z-axis positioning) for objects, which allows a 2D object to be viewed in a simulated 3D space by using shading and shadow effects. Objects can be translated into a 3D depth by the games native Z-direction, giving either positive or negative depth to the axis. Nearly all DirectX-7 and better PC video game titles use various z-axis depth techniques, yet very few games incorporate out-of-screen effects. NVIDIA offers a Stereoscopic 3D Test scene which manipulates the parallax with increased convergence. By default, NVIDIA stereoscopic 3D is configured with neutral convergence settings. For 3D effects that bring objects out of the screen, you'll want to increase convergence:
NVIDIA Control Panel: Stereoscopic 3D → Set up stereoscopic 3D → Set Keyboard Shortcuts → Enable advanced in-game settings
NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Keyboard Shortcuts
During game play or movies, press and hold CTRL+F6 (increase) or CTRL+F5 (decrease) to adjust convergence levels based on real-time feedback. Pressing CTRL+F7 will save these changes to a custom profile, so that you won't have to adjust convergence settings every time. Please keep in mind that NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready titles may not show much improvement, since convergence has already been adjusted in the game.
3D Photos and 3D Screenshots
Most consumers purchase the NVIDIA 3D-Vision kit to play video games, while others like to explore more recreational uses. Professional and amateur photographers alike strive to capture proper depth and focus in their photos, and nothing reproduces realistic depth of field better than 3D technology. NVIDIA offers several samples of user-submitted 3D photos on their 3D Vision Pictures section, which also teaches gamers how to take their own in-game 3D screenshots:
NVIDIA also offers a detailed user guide with advanced instruction on how to use the 3D Vision Photo Viewer to create 3D photo slide shows and edit MPO 3D photos.
NVIDIA 3DTV Play for HDTVs
NVIDIA 3DTV Play enables gamers with GeForce graphics solutions to display stereoscopic views on any 3D-compatible HDTV. NVIDIA's 3D Vision kit is not required for 3DTV Play, so consumers maintain their freedom to enjoy games and content on any brand of 3D HDTV with its own bundled eyewear. Any GeForce video card (8800 or newer) is capable of streaming 3D DVD and 3D Blu-ray over HDMI 1.4a, but video games could not stream in 3D over this interface. By using NVIDIA 3DTV Play, 3D functionality is extended from dual-link DVI to the HDMI 1.4 port on GeForce products, enabling 1080p24, 720p60, and 720p50 3D formats. NVIDIA 3DTV Play software comes free with select 3D notebooks and all 3D Vision kits, or as a separate purchase. This will become important for users who plan to use HTPCs for connecting a GeForce video card to their 3D TV.
3D Blu-ray Disc Movies
For many enthusiasts, 3D is a welcome addition to their home theater system. Three-dimensional gaming may interest some consumers, but 3D movies and video multimedia are destined for the masses. NVIDIA maintains an aggressive interest in the computer hardware segment, primarily graphics processor technology, but they've also dedicated their resources towards developing 3D Blu-ray movie technology. 3D Excitement begins with the NVIDIA 3D Vision kit and modern GeForce desktop or notebook graphics processor, but when a compatible 120Hz HDTV, projector, or monitor is connected along with a Blu-ray Disc player there's the opportunity for an exciting 3D cinema experience. The realistic depth in 3D movies is certainly enough to please most viewers, but adjusting (increasing) convergence may also result in eye-popping out-of-screen 3D video effects just as they do for PC video games.
NOTES: Only the latest GeForce 400-series video cards are capable of supporting high definition 24-bit, 96 and 192 KHz multi-channel audio sampling rates for compatible Blu-ray movies. This functionality was added with NVIDIA Release 260 or higher Forceware drivers and compatible movie player software. According to NVIDIA's system requirements website, only their GeForce GTX 460 video card supports DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD audio bitstreaming for compatible Blu-ray movies.
3D Multimedia Video
If you're not interested in investing more money into 3D than you've already got in your 3D Vision kit and 120Hz monitor, there are still several opportunities to enjoy 3D video and streaming 3D multimedia. All you need is the basic 3D Vision kit with compatible video card and display. NVIDIA's streaming 3D Vision Live video content website (in beta test as of October 2010) offers plenty of short clips that showcase 3D video very nicely. There's also a few very good user-submitted 3D video samples for download, driven by enthusiastic amateur and professional movie-makers alike. Users can Submit stereoscopic 3D content to NVIDIA to share with the community. There's also a whole world of 3D resources outside of NVIDIA's website.
Not long ago I watched the 2010 US Open Tennis tournament in 3D thanks to Panasonic's stereoscopic video camera's becoming standard equipment at professional sporting events and NVIDIA's 3D Vision Video Player (free download). The video player also allowed me to watch 3D Vision-compatible broadcasts of NASCAR, the 2010 Masters Golf Tournament, and the 2010 PGA Championship. I'm sure that 3D Major League Baseball and National Football League games in 3D are coming next... it's only a matter of time. While not necessarily compatible with NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology (yet), it appears that YouTube3D could soon provide yet another free source of 3D video multimedia.
3D Vision with Sony PlayStation3
Coming Soon: As of PS3 firmware update 3.50 released on 21 September 2010, the Sony PlayStation 3 gaming console can now play 3D content on Blu-ray 3D discs whenever a compatible 3D display and active 3D glasses are used. As of this update, NVIDIA's 3D Vision kit is not recognized by the Sony PS3. More information is available from the Sony 3D knowledge center for PlayStation 3 owners.
If you've got any 3D Vision questions or requests, please leave your comment in the area below.