Shooting in 3D

I believe to be on top of my game, I constantly need to be pushing boundaries and seeing how far I can take things.

When I first started developing Otto, I had become aware that Dragonframe supported stereoscopic 3D shooting with a single camera. All you need is a small horizontal slider underneath the camera that could be used to move it left or right. I picked up a Z-axis mini rail from ebay and mounted that beneath the camera and picked up a 3D ready monitor. Neither of which were used for 3D for about 18 months.

Seen here between the Canon 6D and the Roll axis is a tiny mini slider used to move the camera to each eye perspective for stereoscopic 3D

Otto came with a pretty wicked learning curve, and it demands quality parts. Cheap cables, cheap power supplies, caused me nothing but headaches for about the first 6 months. During this time I had so many variables I was attempting to control that adding 3D into the mix just sounded like a pain in the ass.

After replacing USB splitters, swapping basic USB extensions with active extensions, tossing the cheap camera power supplies with the OEM expensive versions everything finally started to come together. I spent the last year actually using Otto, learning Dragonframe, and developing my process flow to successfully work around whatever issues I may run into while making motion adjustments, etc, I finally got comfortable enough to start playing around.

I already had a 3d Monitor, an Acer GN246HL and a GTX GeForce 1080 Ti graphics card. No problem right?



First issue. I did not have the proper cable. The Acer monitor sported a DVI output, and HDMI, but the 3D needed to go over DVI. The expensive 1080ti card only has 3 displayport connections and one HDMI, but 3D wont work over the HDMI.

Whaaa? Really? No displayport? WTF?
Whaaa? No DVI? FFS!


So I drove to best buy and they had a DVI to Displayport adapter for like 30 bucks. Screw that. I hit up Walmart and found one for 10 bucks.

Got it setup. And did it work?…. No. Started looking into it, turns out I needed the $120 Nvidia 3D Vision 2 kit, and nobody had it in stock. I ordered it and it arrived while I was at NAB.

Yeah ok, this is not NAB, this was freemont street, but I love this woman. hahaha

When I got home from Vegas, I eagerly opened it up and charged the glasses, excited as I had let Otto film the Terracotta set in 3D while I was away.  I got the 3D Vision kit setup, and did it work? No.

After spending some time, it turns out that the adapter wouldnt work. I needed to either use a DVI-Dual Link cable, or, a Displayport, but I could not use the adapter, and couldnt get more than a 60hz refresh rate from the monitor.  Well that causes a problem. There is no DisplayPort on the monitor, and no DVI on the 1080 Ti card.

Only way around this was either replace the monitor, or downgrade to a lower end graphics card(yeah right).

New Monitor for 3D!

Turns out that 3D Gaming is virtually dead. As are 3D TV’s. It just gives people headaches. Most of the 3D compatible monitors are no longer being manufactured. There are plenty of 1ms response monitors, but those seem to have some level of compatibility issues with some hoops to jump through.

I managed to find one of those old monitors (new) on Amazon with Displayport 3d support, ordered it up and finally. FINALLY. I have it.

So, got that part working.

Next, how the hell do you render footage for 3d?

Turns out WMA 1080p is the only codec I found that seems to work with it. And that took about another 2 hours to figure out.

BUT… I Did get it working. I had loaded up the left, and right eye files in the 3d player, loaded it up, and it was AMAZING.  I was shooting pretty macro so I kept the distance between the two images offset by just 2cm. The footage is a simple right to left linear move across the set with the focus making a few moves from the further plants to the closer ones as they drifted by then back.

Something was up with the 3D slider though, and it stopped sliding for a few seconds of footage causing it to go from 3D to 2D and back, which turns out to be a pretty jarring effect on the brain. Gives a headache fast.  I think the issue is a set screw on the coupling from the stepper to the lead-screw on the 3D slider. It is sort of mashed and seems to not want to tighten very well. I will have to get some time to address that.

I tried again with an orchid, but this was not much of a timelapse, and it was finished within 8 hours. Aside from a couple frames where once again the 3d slider did not move, it is way better, but I think i should have knocked the offset down to 1cm, cause the camera gets REAL close to the flower in a couple parts and you can feel your eyes damn near crossing.

To be honest, this is a lot of work for very low chance there will be any payout. I think I may actually be the first person to film motion controlled botanical time lapse in 3D. If i am not the first It puts me as a part of a very small club.

So why do it?


Thats really about it. I figure if I have the capability to do so I should be learning to do it. The production companies who I want to work with do lots of documentary work and such. Maybe some day one of them will want to do a 3D IMAX presentation.

Now that I have the ability to work in 3D, it does not really cost me any extra to do so. Its more of a novelty than anything else. If anyone has the hardware and wants to see the footage hit me up I can dropbox it.


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