Hard Choices: Stereoscopic 3D

By Jeremy Laird on August 20th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

Our resident hardware dreamweaver/bubble-burster Jeremy returns with an examination into whether 3D glasses and 120Hz monitors are what PC gaming needs. For more Hard Choices – including the only answers you need on processors, graphics cards, hard drives, monitors and motherboards – please click here.

I’ve got a hunch about stereoscopic 3D. I reckon it’s on a 30-year cycle. According to the annals of history – otherwise known as Wikipedia – every 30 years or so sees a blip in the graph measuring interest in 3D before things revert to the long-term flatline.

So is the latest round of 3D flicks and games just a temporary craze? Or is 3D here to stay and just about to assimilate your PC?

The timeline starts in the 1890s, when British inventor William Friese-Greene apparently patented a system for capturing and displaying motion stereoscopic pictures, perhaps while researching into an automatic machine for polishing shoes.

Anyway, fast forward roughly 30 years to 1922 and you have the first known paying audience for a 3D flick. Add another 30 and you hit the 1950s and arguably the golden age of 3D movies.

Next up is the 1980s and another temporary blip, one which I personally can just about remember courtesy of some prepubescent memory tendrils – yes, I am that old. Which brings us neatly to the present day and the recent resurgence of 3D blockbusters.


See those stupid glasses? That’s you, that is.

Intriguing, eh? Along the way, of course, stereoscopic 3D found favour as a genuinely useful tool for things like military aerial photography. And porn. Ah yes, porn. Ever the innovator. Even the Nazis made a few propaganda flicks in 3D, and they didn’t mess about.

All of which begs the questions whether 3D movies are here to stay this time and if so – and much more critically – is stereoscopic 3D therefore the next big thing on the PC?

I’ll spoil the rest of this post right here and say the answer is negative. 3D movies, in my expert and peer-reviewed opinion, are bloody awful. And stereoscopic 3D is not going to become the norm on the PC any time soon.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting to have a think about the problems with 3D technology. Moreover, just because 3D isn’t going to entirely assimilate the PC, it can still make for some occasional fun in the right format. And if you’re going to fork out, you’d better know how the options compare and where to spend your money.

So, let’s get the numpty bit covered. What is 3D? We humans have two eyes. Each eye views the world from a slightly different position and and captures a slightly different image. Your monkey brain receives these offset images and composites them into a single mental picture with depth and perspective.

Result? Glorious 3D. So, the basic requirement for any 3D technology is a different image from a suitably offset perspective for each eye. The question is how you achieve that.

For bona fide 3D movies, that’s a pain, because it means you need two cameras offset roughly like human eyes. You can kludge it, but the result is usually that cardboard cut-out effect where objects look like flat boards arranged at different depths. Actually, that can apply to movies made the right way, too, but I digress.


NVIDIA’s idea of 3D gaming, apparently

As it happens, computer games are perfect for stereoscopic 3D. If you have a software engine rendering a 3D model of the world in real time, it’s a very simple step, philosophically if not in terms of performance, to render it twice from two different angles and thus generate depth and perspective for not just the whole image but for the objects in it, too.

Even better, with a software 3D engine, it’s pretty trivial to tweak the z-buffer values for objects and thus dynamically adjust the depth of view or, er, 3Dness of the image, to suit your preferences.

The difficulty is getting the two images to hit the backs of your eyes separately, in the right order and fast enough to create the illusions. Right now, there are two different widely options for the PC. Both involve wearing a pair of silly glasses.

Glasses-free technology, that works thanks either to similar principles to those animated rulers you had at school or more advanced head-tracking malarkey is emerging, but it’s early days. From what I’ve seen, it’s still a bit crap.

So let’s talk about the stuff you can buy and that works fairly well. Option one we’ll call passive polarised. The idea here is to have polarised filters in front on your eyes. If we’re talking linear polarised light, you offset the filters by 90 degrees. Then you pump the image being generated by the display for each eye through the corresponding polarised filter and bob’s uncle is poking you in the eye. Or something.

These days, circular polarisation is used which allows for a bit more freedom in terms of head tilt than linear polarisation. Anywho, the main advantage of polarisation is that you only need cheap, passive glasses with filter lenses. And so we have throw-away glasses for 3D cinema.


Yes, you can buy 3D laptops, but do you really want to?

The problem is that it puts all the burden on the display. For PCs, that means LCD panels with polarised filters built into them. Even worse, with all the polarised 3D monitors I’m aware of (shout out if you know differently) you effectively lose half the resolution in 3D mode. That’s because the polarisation is done in alternate scan lines of pixels, one for each eye.

You also lose some brightness and vividness, which is always the case any time you stick a filter in front of a light source. The alternative is to make the glasses do more of the hard work, which is exactly what happens with active shutter technology. The mechanics here involve glasses fitted with liquid crystal lenses that can be switched to either allow light through or block it.

At the same time, the entire display alternates between the images for each eye. The tricky bit is refreshing the screen fast enough for fluid motion since double the frame rate is required to feed individual images to each eye and then getting the glasses and screen correctly synced.

However, it doesn’t actually require much from the display. You can use a standard LCD panel. You just need electronics to support high refresh rates.

Currently, there are a number of polarised 3D monitors on sale, such as the LG DM2350D (you can read my review here). I’m not a huge fan – they’re dim and you can see the loss of resolution along with a slightly odd comb effect due to the alternate line tech.

In that context, we don’t have to worry about software support for polarised screens. Which leaves us with active shutter technology. The 800 pound gorilla is obviously NVIDIA and its 3D Vision technology.

I’ve experience of both the first generation 3D Vision and the revised version with so-called LightBoost. It’s certainly the best stereoscopic 3D solution for the PC I’ve tried. It’s fairly easy to set up and the game support is as good as it gets.

The results in terms of visuals are also probably the best 3D images I’ve seen. What’s more, any 3D Vision-compatible monitor will support 120Hz refresh in 2D mode, which if you haven’t tried it is bloody lovely for everything from just pushing windows around the desktop to gaming.


Right now, NVIDIA’s 3D Vision kit is your best option

The only problem there is that there aren’t currently any monitors with high quality IPS or VA panels that support 120Hz (before someone pipes up regards a certain species of 27-inch Korean screen with an IPS panel and 120Hz overclockability, that’s a whole different ballgame and one you can expect to hear about from Alec soon).

In any case, I struggle to buy into the stereoscopic-3D-on-a-PC-monitor proposition. I’m not convinced that it truly adds much to the experience on a desktop screen. But I am convinced the glasses involved are silly and that eye discomfort is common with extended use. Part of the problem is that with a screen so close, the fact that you’re faking visual depth via a screen surface fixed focal point gets your brain and eye muscles in a right tizz.

That said, where I think 3D gaming really works is with an HD projector. You can now get a 3D compatible high refresh HD projector for about £500 and it really is a lot of fun. Using a projector also makes the need to wear glasses somehow less intolerable. Gaming on a projector is only ever going to be a niche activity you do occasionally, so throwing some glasses into the mix isn’t enough to spoil the novelty.

As it happens, the second-gen LightBoost 3D Vision stuff is particularly good and really is pretty vibrant, but you will need a LightBoost compliant screen. Of course, all of that only applies if you have an NVIDIA graphics card or are willing to buy one.

So what of AMD’s HD3D tech? I have to be honest here and say I haven’t used this at home, only courtesy of some AMD arranged demos. So, I don’t have a great deal of insight regards stability and game compatibility.

What I can say is that in traditional AMD style, the whole thing is a bit fiddly. You’ll need a 120Hz display with DisplayPort connectivity. To that you add a Radeon HD 5000 series or higher GPU. For most games, you also need some middleware drivers that depend on third parties as much as AMD.

Overall, I think you’d have to be pretty committed to AMD to choose HD3D over 3D Vision. Stereoscopic 3D is also one area where NVIDIA’s sometimes suspiciously close relationship with developers can only help. I also think stereoscopic 3D as a broader tech for the PC will remain niche as long as you have to wear glasses and tolerate compromised image quality.

But if you’ve got a bit of cash to burn I wouldn’t cross you off my Christmas card list if you forked out for some 3D Vision kit. Worst case scenario, you can stick it on ebay come 2040.

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112 Comments »

  1. sketch says:

    Thanks to amblyopia I can’t see stereoscopic 3D. Never have been able to.
    I’ve often wondered what it actually looks like.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      It looks like migraine to me.

      • Greggh says:

        I have migraine and sinusitis – both are laughable* when compared to watching two and a half hours of a movie with crappy 3D effects. Like Avatar.
        Worst. Headache. Ever.

        *may contain sarcasm

        Never played games with 3D though, but I think I could enjoy it to some extent. Regardless, all the gimmick and clumsiness of current 3D devices always makes me uneasy.

        • Cinek says:

          Avatar was one of a few movies that happen to have real 3D in it, and was made fully with 3D in mind. I for one really enjoyed effects (although 2D version, where you actually focus on a storyline, was crap), and hadn’t got any headache problems.
          Fun fact: I got a friend who couldn’t see 3D in 3D movies and in avatar she seen some scenes “popping up” from the screen first time ever in her life :)

    • FalseMyrmidon says:

      You’re really not missing anything.

    • SRTie4k says:

      In my (fairly limited) experience, all 3D looks like moving pop-up books. Not very appealing.

      • Magnusm1 says:

        This exactly.

      • Bungled says:

        I recall popup books to be fairly exciting…3d is more like a gimmick for the dude next door that has more fancy gadgets than you because you will amount to nothing…er..uhh..you get my point.

    • LTK says:

      Are you able to see depth at all? If you are, then I can tell you this: 3D on a screen looks nothing like the real world. If you aren’t, then at least you can be glad about the fact that images on a screen always look just like the real world to you.

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        Normal perception of depth relies also on focal length, perspective, shadows, and movement in addition to binocular vision.

      • mrwout says:

        I can’t see depth at all. But I’m wondering now, do movies look different from “the real world” to people who can see depth? Never noticed I was missing something (except for all those things I run in).

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Imagine the real world but a bit fuzzy, awkwardly coloured, and awkwardly jumping out at you. Take a mild-moderate hallucinogenic and it will probably be a similar experience.

    • Baines says:

      3D glasses don’t work for me.

      For some reason, my eyes are…off… They don’t quite view the same point. I can live my life fine with it. I see depth, but I’d close an eye if I was trying to thread a needle or read extremely fine print.

      But I can’t use 3D glasses at all. The results are like intentionally trying to look at something cross-eyed, as my body/mind doesn’t know how to adjust to align the images properly. (Many years ago, I could use the old red/blue glasses, but I can’t even use them anymore.)

    • Author X says:

      Not sure if I can explain it in a way that makes sense, but here goes… the way I experience it, it looks mostly the same, but there’s part of my brain that says, “Hey, that’s closer!” or “Hey, that’s further away!” You have a subconscious 3D map of the world around you – I assume that even if you can’t see depth, this is still true – and your brain uses various clues to build that map. If you can put a cup down on a table, move your hand away, then pick it up again without missing or grabbing around, you’re using that mental map. Seeing depth is really just one more clue – it’s a way your brain can tell the difference between a small thing that’s up close and a big thing that’s far away. You just know one is bigger than the other even though, in a drawing, they’d look the same.

      So, 3D games already trick you into building that 3D map using shadows, perspectives, and just being able to see how things move around when the camera moves. On the other hand, it’s a hypothetical map of a place that doesn’t exist – you get a sense of the 3D space but it’s all in your head. Stereoscopic vision is another clue, but it’s one with big flashing lights and a bullhorn shouting “HEY THIS THING IS FURTHER AWAY THAN THE OTHER THINGS”. So my subconscious 3D map of the real world changes from “this is a flat screen” to “this is a rectangle and things are behind it, or occasionally coming out of it.” – it doesn’t actually look any different but my perception has changed.

      The downside is that with binocular vision you can only focus on one level of depth, and everything further and closer than that is in double vision. If it’s close, it’s not bad, but if the difference in depth is huge, it’s impossible to focus on the close thing and still see the far thing or vice-versa. So extreme changes in depth perception make it harder to see the whole screen at once.

      The other problem is that, when used correctly, the effect can violate plausible laws of physics. This happened a lot when I first started playing Ocarina of Time 3D because the fireflies in the lost woods would fly in and out of view very close to the camera – it’s not bad if your brain can accept that it’s looking through a window and things outside the edges are hidden, but glowing dots popping in and out of existence despite being “above” the “window” are harder to process. Because of the difference in perspective, there’s a fraction of a second where it exists in one eye and not the other. When putting together that 3D map, that just doesn’t make sense, and that’s where some of the headaches come from (for me, at least). In addition, if programmers go crazy with it (like the title screen where Link’s sword is pointing way out), trying to focus on something so close can actually push your eyes so close together it hurts.

      It’s also not a perfect trick – objects in the real world also require focusing the lens (I’m not quite so sure about the mechanics, so forgive my vaugeness), so in addition to double-vision, objects outside of the focus of your vision are also fuzzy. It confuses the eyes a bit to change stereoscopic focus back and forth but not the focus of the light.

      Anyway, my personal opinion is that it’s a neat party trick, but it’s very annoying when misused (and easily misused), and when properly used it should be subtle – probably subtle enough that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble anyway (which is why so many specifically-3D movies and sometimes games abandon subtlety entirely).

    • billyphuz says:

      I’m a vision therapist. VT can probably help you resolve your amblyopia without any invasive procedures. Look it up!

      That said, in my job I’ve seen many patients with even mild TBI or other neurological issues that make trying to use stereoscopic glasses an instantaneous headache. YMMV.

    • Ascense says:

      This is a demonstration of a similar effect (usually referred to as fish tank 3D) that you should be able to see… The actual effect is shown at around 2:45. Stereoscopic 3D is quite similar to that, except it only works well when you are stationary, while the fish tank effect only works when you are moving. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw

  2. Monchberter says:

    Niche bumpf for hobbyists who live for the bleeding edge. AKA barely anyone.

    I thought 3D on PC died on it’s arse around 2 years ago?

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Actually I did buy it to be on the bleeding edge about 2-3 years ago.

      It works pretty well for most things, but having a HUD/interface can be a little odd (because those are mostly flat images, so appear to “float” in the middle of your vision, this varies from game to game).

      Generally though, after about 15-20mins I’d get this odd feeling at the back of my eyes, then it would progress to headaches and nausea (which took a long time to wear off).

      Really wouldn’t recommend it at all to anyone. If you have that sort of money to spare, why not put it towards a better graphics card or something which will give you a much better boost to your gaming experience.

      The 120hz monitor I got (Samsung 2233) was lovely though, so when I upgraded recently I got another one (BenQ something).

      • fish99 says:

        To answer your question, and this is just my opinion, but 3D makes a bigger difference to immersion than an extra 20 fps from a better graphics card, especially when you’re used to it and you can crank up the depth and you know how to set the convergence correctly (and of course you have a game that it works well in).

        It’s unfortunate it didn’t agree with you medically but obviously most people don’t have that problem. I’ve only had one headache using 3D and that was from Borderlands with it’s low FOV, but other than that I’ve used 3D a few hundred hours without issue, including many 5hr+ sessions.

        • royale says:

          Same here. Playing with Nvidia 3d for over a year, hundreds (and hundreds) of hours total and no difficulty with 5+ hour gaming sessions. I’m one of the lucky ones who never has eyestrain from it, even with my terrible near-sighted vision which means I also have to wear contacts/prescription lenses along with the shutter glasses.

          There are, admittedly, many games where it “works” but just doesn’t add much to the experience, mainly due to some effect like shadowing or some aspect of a heads-up-display not fitting into the image right. But, there are also many games–Skyrim (install the user-made shadows fix), Just Cause 2, Trine 2, Metro 2033, Fallout: NV, Batman, Dragon Age 2, The Witcher 2, to name a few–where the effect is really immersive and enjoyable. After playing games that work so well with the 3d effects, like the stuff I mentioned above, I feel like there’s something missing playing them in 2d and I have never gone back to it.

          • Incredulous Dylan says:

            I’ve been using 3D vision for two years or so now, and ended up getting a 27″ to compliment it. It is pretty fantastic and if you just relax and play you are more easily drawn into what is going on due to the effect. Games mentioned before such as Just Cause 2, Metro 2033, Dead Space 2 and Arkham City do an absolute fantastic job of properly handling the effect and really pull you into the action. For many games the developers couldn’t or didn’t bother taking 3D into account and things just have some added depth. Arkham City was an amazing experience and the 3D really amped the whole thing up for me due to the excellent camera work and immersion the game already has. Of course having the ability to watch 3D blu rays on my PC was a plus too.

            It is a shame to read some of these long comments that just don’t match up at all with my experience. I’d hate to be missing out on the advantages because of the way my eyes worked or some of the other problems people have perceiving the effect :(

  3. WhatKateDoes says:

    I got to play “The Thing” game via the NVidia shutter glasses around the time the game came out.. it was a startling and downright scary experience. I loved it. That experience sold me on the “idea” of 3D gaming – tho the tech was still limiting what with crosstalk/ghosting and stuff at the time, but in The Thing it worked.

    Return to Castle Wolfenstein was also very good as I recall.

    Not much has impressed since…. aside from Dear Esther which we managed to crank onto our big 3D telly in the living room with 3D drivers fed from my laptop :)

    • Toberoth says:

      Ooo yes, I can imagine Dear Esther working well in 3D.

      • royale says:

        All source engine games/mods are good with Nvidia 3d in my experience.

        I even played Slender in 3d, for like 2 games before I decided I never want to play Slender again. :)

  4. SirKicksalot says:

    120Hz monitors are worth it even if you don’t plan to get a 3D kit.
    I own one and Nvidia’s kit since 2010. I’m very happy with it.

    • Edawan says:

      Disagree.
      I’ve had a 120Hz screen for over a year and the difference is rarely perceptible. Very few current game render that fast anyway.

      My verdict : don’t get a 120Hz screen if you don’t plan on using the 3D, and even then only if you can find a good deal.

      • -Otto says:

        Not quite true. Any “recent” game can pretty much render as fast as your GPU and CPU will allow. If anything, there’s occasional problems with games having completely no FPS cap, and forcing hundreds more frames to process than the screen can display.

        If you cannot get over 60 FPS, I’m confident it’s either a system limitation, an exceptional frame rate cap, or else you may not actually have a 120Hz screen that works in 2D. Otherwise, it’s very important to stress that almost everyone experiences things differently. Some find it very hard to notice a step up of the frame rate, and others who notice may just not think it adds to the immersion or smoothness.

    • Sic says:

      The problem with these monitors are usually that they are “gaming” monitors. In other words, utter shite, with panels that are better suited to telling you when your toast is ready rather than display anything advanced (like colour).

    • DrGonzo says:

      Completely agree, the difference in moving picture of 120Hz and 60Hz is night and day. A much bigger difference than silly high resolutions you could potentially spend money on.

      It’s not worth it unless you are always breaking 60fps and always use Vsync. But if you do, it’s fantastic. You will never see a torn screen again, and never have to lock a framerate again.

      The difference isn’t just visual, I actually found the controls seemed more responsive.

  5. Taro says:

    You know, as I was reading this article, I came across the picture of the laptop with the caption “Yes, you can buy 3D laptops, but do you really want to?”. I thought it looked a bit familiar, and after a few seconds I realise… waitaminnit… that’s my laptop.

    Which I’ve owned for a good eight months now.

    Which supposedly has “3D” functionality.

    Which I’ve never even once… not once… been even curious enough to bother attempting to “turn on” or look at, or get working, or anything.

    Guess I’m at the wrong point in the 30-year interest cycle. :)

  6. Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

    I fucking LOVE stereoscopic 3D. I actually feel bad for people who for medical reasons can’t experience it, and I feel utter contempt for the bandwagon-jumping haters. I have the nVidia 24″ Asus 120hz with the speccy goggles, and in the games that use it, it really does add an ‘extra dimension’ to the game. Unfortunately nVidia’s commitment to monitor support is a farce, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

    Plus, where are the forums? Really, RPS, for such cutting edge games journalists you really should have done a piece by now on the lack of nVidia’s forums.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      “News: NVidia continues to have no official forums”?

      Compelling.

      • HexagonalBolts says:

        hahah, yeah my thought exactly, people were complaining about major news updates on Diablo 3 let alone an article on a long-standing but mildly irritating lack of website functionality

    • eVb says:

      I LOVE it too.

      Of course there are people for whom the tech doesn’t work, apparently. And then there are the masses who never experienced it (with capable hardware) for a long enough time – some getting used to or adapting to is necessary – or never experienced it at all, but think they can tell for sure that it’s of no “real” value whatsoever.

      ‘Dear Esther’ contains a good example of where the 3D-effect is really useful: the cave-passage. That’s a visual mess without stereoscopic depth-clues. In fact I couldn’t help but wonder when I read RPS’ ‘Dear Esther’-WIT, praising the visual beauty of those caves…
      However, this real advantage of perception in dim-lit locations isn’t what counts most for me. More important is the general benefit in “graphics-fidelity”. Beside this almost all other graphical parameters discussed by gamers/enthusiasts pale – imo.

      BUT: Nvidia’s ’3D Vision’ is expensive and still has some drawbacks like ghosting (by now easily ignorable for the most part, I think). And a lot of games aren’t nearly optimised with regards to stereoscopic 3D. (That’s where sites like come into play.)

    • fish99 says:

      “and I feel utter contempt for the bandwagon-jumping haters”

      It’s the same any time 3D is mentioned anywhere, this torrent of irrational hate, and you know most of those people have never used 3D Vision. I don’t know if it’s based on seeing crappy anaglyph films, I personally haven’t seen any of the new breed of 3D films with polarizing glasses so I’ve no idea how good the 3D is (I do know they keep the depth low for people who aren’t used to 3D), but one thing I can say for sure – if I could sit the haters down in front of my setup and show them some of their favourite PC games in 3D, a lot of them would change their minds. They still might not think it was worth the money, but they’d grudging admit it was a cool experience.

      THB it’s kinda pathetic how many people who never used it are so ready to condemn it. I’d expect better from the readers of RPS.

    • bfandreas says:

      The trouble with 3D via nVidia is goddam awful and shoddy coding.
      For some reason for instance in many games the shadows are different for each eye(in Skyrim you need to fiddle with the ini file and turn off deferred shadows), water reflection seldomly works, sky planes are at the wrong depth(in Skyrim the stars are actually below the clouds) and you will need to use the nVidia crosshairs. Interface is a huge problem. Your crosshairs/pointer is at the level of the monitor and your target is a couple of meters away. It is very hard to click on something this way. You are constantly refocussing on the item you want to click and your pointer.
      I’ve been mentioning Skyrim a lot since it was supposed to work well with nVision. Which out of the box it doesn’t. I’ve got it to work with Kingdoms of Amalur using a patched DirectX lib and it works BEAUTIFULLY with older titles and Trine.
      IF a game has been ported from console you can assume they took shortcuts to improve performance and nVision will expose each and every flaw mercylessly.
      Also a 120hz screen means you will have to get the game running at 120 FPS. And then you get to see it with 60 FPS for each eye. So don’t underestimate the demands on your system. Very highend it is.

      And do not even consider watching 3D movies on a 27″ screen that’s a meter away from your face. It’s an entirely different experience when watching it in 3D in a cinema.

      Having said that, a 120hz screen is worth the price and most of them are nVision capable anyway so if you are in the market for a new screen you could do worse. I picked up my monitor for 300€ and it came with the glasses. It has to be AWEFULLY bright because the glasses basically are shades. Which I wear at night. Which feels stupid.

      • fish99 says:

        Neither nVidia nor Bethesda every claimed Skyrim worked great in 3D, in fact Bethesda came out and said they couldn’t care less about 3D support, so I don’t know where you’re getting that from.

        Having said all that it should work well now with the Helix mod.

        • royale says:

          Ambient Occlusion will not work, but I can confirm with my 200+ hours of Skyrim that the mod fixes the shadows and sky perfectly. The game ranks among the best and most enjoyable 3d experiences I’ve had. (Same thing with F:NV.)

          You have to manually set the convergence (take off the glasses and align the “two points” of your sword as a guide), but once it’s set proper you can crank the depth and get an absolutely great sense of distance whether your diving deeper into a cave or dealing with a dragon biting your face off. (Oh man, the dragons. ;)

  7. Mrs Columbo says:

    Yup, thirty years is just long enough for the largest/youngest group of consumers to have no knowledge of how shit 3D really is. The cycle continues.

    • Shivoa says:

      It’s a shame this 30 year cycle isn’t actually relevant to PCs. What with all the cool kids (and nVidia, who would love for you to have to buy twice the GPU rendering power to render to each eye vs fixed CPU power where they don’t have a horse in the race) playing with this stuff when CRTs got 120Hz+ and there were decent 3D APIs a bit over 10 years ago. ELSA Revelators were my poison at the time but that outbreak of 3D (possibly bigger than head-tracking niche, isn’t the open PC ecosystem great that is can support small user bases building on top of the mass market 3D rendering engines in different ways and hacking in support where developers don’t see the profit in spending their own time) was killed by the LCD revolution and 30Hz per eye being too flickery to do 3D justice.

      Hopefully e-IPS and *VA screens will start to emerge with 120Hz options and maybe even a 3rd generation of 3DVision required specs/tech to drive it. TN is what we deal with for the love of stereoscopic but my main screen is a lovely expensive (proper, not e-) IPS and the difference is night and day. I’d love to spend a bit on something as fast as the 120Hz TN I have but with the angles, 8bit pixels, and wide gamut of my IPS screen. One day the tech will be here (Hell, one day OLED means ghosting gets even less noticeable and 4k panels mean passive/eye tracking parallax barrier stuff can do 1080p for each eye in a way we can learn to love).

      • NamelessPFG says:

        I’m also holding out for a 120 Hz IPS panel with no less than 1920×1200 resolution. (No, 1920×1080 is not acceptable to me because it won’t fit 1600×1200.)

        Until then, I still have my trusty FD Trinitron G1 monitors (which can hit up to 160 Hz) and a pair of X3D/eDimensional/ELSA 3D Revelator glasses I scored at a local Goodwill for just $5.

        Remarkably, those old glasses actually do work on Win7 64-bit with the help of an eDimensional controller app, and with a little emitter emulator trickery, I can use it with NVIDIA 3D Vision, no need for iZ3D or Tridef drivers.

  8. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I use an Asus VG236 (which came with the 3D Vision kit). Had it about a couple of years, still love it. I’d also recommend the 3D Vision blog which has really good reviews of 3D kit.

    I know I’m in the minority, but I think 3D really adds something to games (when done well), much more than films do. I’d also avoid shooters or anything like that, but LA Noire is divine in 3D.

    • Shivoa says:

      Other links for those interested in steroscopic from nVidia:

      Helix mod rips the shaders from games and rewrites any of the effects that are broken for the driver hack camera offset 3D that nVidia uses to enable stereoscopic in games without explicit support: http://helixmod.wikispot.org/Front_Page

      And obviously MTBS is the community where everyone into AR/VR and 3D hangs out: http://www.mtbs3d.com/

    • bfandreas says:

      I second the recommendation of the 3D Vision Blog. You need to fiddle with a lot of things when doing this 3D thing. And they point you in the right direction.
      Also you will find that the cookie bloke is absolutely right about his FOV rantings. The problem is even bigger in true 3D or you will feel like constantly staring into a fish tank. Filled with dragons. And naked women. And elephants. And mudcrabs. Thankfully there are solutions to that but it is awefully fiddly.

  9. Surlywombat says:

    Stop reading my mind.. I was just looking for more information about this earlier and now you have answered all my questions!

  10. golem09 says:

    It’s a 30 year circle.
    Just this time John Carmack is working on it.

  11. MerseyMal says:

    Have a PC with Nvidia 3D Vision and I like it. However I’ve rarely used it it and the last PC I’ve built isn’t compatible because I chose HD 6870 cards over their nearest GeForce equivalent.

  12. Iskariot says:

    I am not interested in 3D at all. Not for my games, not for my movies.
    I perceive it as annoying and distracting. And it gives me headaches.

  13. Paul says:

    Oculus Rift for me, thanks. That is the only 3D I need.

    • golem09 says:

      And suddenly all the problems go away. I’m excited to see this tech next year

    • mseifullah says:

      I got hands-on time with the Oculus Rift at Quakecon this year. I can’t even find the words to express how truly amazing it was. Your mind will be blown. I’ll definitely be getting the consumer version when it’s released.

      I was prepared to try a gimmicky toy. What I actually experienced was a brief glimpse into the true future of first-person gaming, hands-down.

      On a side-note, I will also tell you — with no exaggeration — that Doom3: BFG edition in 2D at 120 fps on a 120hz monitor looks so amazing that it would be worth buying the game and a new monitor just to experience it. An 8 year old game as no right looking so unquestionably beautiful.

  14. Lev Astov says:

    The “cardboard cut-out effect” in movies stems entirely from cheaply done post-processed 3D (most “3D” movies). Any film actually recorded with two cameras simultaneously, even kludged together, will not have that effect. It might not be well done, but you’ll at least sense the depth of rounded shapes.

    That said, only two movies I know of have actually filmed with 3D cameras, and those are Avatar and Tron: Legacy, both of which did an admiral job of it, I think.

    The real trick is to not have things poking out of the screen. That’s never acceptable.

    I’m totally all about 3D games, but I’m waiting for something like the Oculus Rift VR headset to make it work. I really don’t want to wear glasses with my monitor.

    • Foosnark says:

      Avatar looked terrible in 3D, to my eyes. Granted I wear glasses and have to wear the stupid 3D glasses over glasses. But I literally could not see some of the characters’ faces. If it were a better movie, I’d have gone back to see it in 2D.

      Tron Legacy was just fine, and worked really well. So did Coraline. Those are the only two movies I’m glad to have seen in 3D… and Coraline would have been just as entertaining without it to be honest.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Trust me, there is nothing at all cheap about 2D-to-3D conversion. There are also a number of films that were shot stereo rather than converted, however it takes a great deal of expertise and can slow the production down, which is why producers often resort to the inferior conversion process.

      The problem with 3D isn’t the technology, its that people don’t know how to use it properly. That’s why Avatar led to a resurgence of 3D cinema, and almost everything since has caused its subsequent demise.

      • Vandelay says:

        Avatar used it affectively? After all the hype, the 3D tech came across as virtually worthless, using the 3Dness for all the same tricks everyone else uses it for. A spear thrown out of the screen here, some floating over there. In fairness, it did give some wonderful falling ash… until it hit the edge of the “virtual” screen and broke the illusion.

        Only film that has used 3D well in this cycle was Hugo, a film that came and went with barely a notice, whilst some movie execs continued to be excited about how they once made a lot of money from a mediocre Smurfs in Space film.

        That is not to say I think more should try to mimic Scorsese’s attempt at 3D. That was one of kind and is unlikely to be repeated, but it is better then trying to emulate the ever increasingly by the numbers Cameron. It is far more preferable that listen to Nolan and realise that 3D is a detriment to image quality.

      • Baines says:

        2D-to-3D conversion might not be cheap, but there is cheap 2D-to-3D conversion. You can spend a lot of time and money and do it better, or you save time and money by doing it worse (or just not be good at doing it at all), and there are clearly movies that chose the latter path. (It probably doesn’t help when a movie was created without 3D in mind, either.)

  15. ColOfNature says:

    Was that a sneaky History Today reference? I approve.

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      There’s another reference to fine British comedy elsewhere. If you can get that, too, then definitely points if not prizes to you!

      • ColOfNature says:

        Is it the shoe-shine-machine research bit? That sounds vaguely familiar, but I’m buggered if I can place it.

        • Jeremy Laird says:

          Correct. But where from…

          • ColOfNature says:

            It sounds a bit Pythonesque, but I don’t think that’s right. It’s going to annoy me now…

          • Jeremy Laird says:

            Shall I tell you?

          • ColOfNature says:

            Go on then. I’ll probably kick myself, but it’s better than having it nagging at me.

          • Jeremy Laird says:

            It was of course Blackadder, series three, final episode, final scene.

            Blackadder:
            “My final wish on this Earth is that Baldrick be sold, to provide funds for a Blackadder foundation to promote peace, and to do research into the possibility of an automatic machine for cleaning shoes.”

  16. sfaok says:

    I was an early adopter of 3D Vision and even downgraded my main projector last year to 720p just so I could have (affordable) big screen 3D. I’m extremely excited to tinker with an Oculus Rift.

    When you play a “3D ready” game on a decent setup the results are absolutely phenomenal. Two of my favourite experiences in the past few years were Arkham City and Trine 2 in 3D. The latter in particular was practically sci-fi gaming. It’s a much better experience than cinema 3D for a number of reasons – everything is usually in focus, 60 fps, control over depth and convergence etc.

    The main problem though isn’t the technology but the lack of support. Technically a lot of it is automatic, and Nvidia release driver support for most DirectX games, but without developers being directly involved you always have a problem with 2D shadows, ambient occlusion, GUI elements, cross hairs etc. that make it a real pain in the arse to retrofit. It’s even worse now that the Nvidia forums have been down for OVER A MONTH!

    • fish99 says:

      Haven’t played Trine 2 yet but Trine was stunning in 3D.

      Some other games that I’ve really enjoyed in 3D – Batman AA (haven’t played AC yet), Kingdoms of Amalur, Dead Space 1+2 (with Helix fix), any Bethesda game (Skyrim, Oblivion, FNV, F3), The Hunter, Far Cry, Torchlight, Flatout series etc.

      • Valvarexart says:

        My absolute favourite stereo 3d game was BF3. The singleplayer campaign is absolutely amazing in 3D. It has really great depth and zero ghosting.

      • royale says:

        I don’t typically enjoy (or even bother checking out) platformers. However, I can say with confidence that of all the 3d gaming I’ve done in the past year, Trine 2 makes the absolute best use of stereoscopic 3d of them all by a pretty wide margin. Trine 1 was impressive, but Trine 2 was on an entirely other level and was straight up jaw-dropping with its visuals and 3d effects. If you play 3d games you really should see this one.

    • bumma says:

      try world of tanks ;)

  17. alundra says:

    If the 3D transmission of the Olympics it’s anything to go by, I will be spending several hundreds of US dollars to get enough PC equipment for….getting migraines in half an hour.

    It’s just a fad, no thanks.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      You have to bear in mind that “live” 3D is vastly inferior. 3D takes a lot of tweaking and balancing to be comfortable, and is therefore extremely difficult to get right when you’re cutting between shots with consideration to how it looks in 2D rather than 3D.

      I would expect to see a revised cut (probably with a good deal of post-production) of the ceremony at a later date that looks a lot better.

    • hamish says:

      Olympics 3d was actually rather good, bbc have improved a lot since their first Wimbledon attempt (2011).

  18. Edawan says:

    I’ve had a 120Hz screen for over a year, but only with an nVidia card since the 670 came out a few months ago. Here’s my thoughts.

    Games :
    Games that are 3D Vision certified are very impressive, with almost no problem. The rest always has some small bugs, which you can sometimes overlook, sometimes are too distracting.
    Anyway, gaming in 3D is harder, because you can’t focus on everything at once so it’s hard to keep track of your surroundings. Near the end of Arkham City I had to turn off the 3D because I just couldn’t keep an eye on all the thugs in the big packs I was facing.
    Another problem is, in games not made with 3D in mind, the UI is usually at screen depth, which means you have to change your focus when you go between the action and the UI.

    Films :
    I’ve only watched Tron Legacy on my screen, but the loss of brightness caused by the glasses really destroyed the striking look of the film, and the 3D added very little. By the end of the film it was very uncomfortable.

    Last word on the 120Hz in 2D mode : it’s rarely perceptible. Very few current games render that fast anyway. So don’t buy just for that.

    In the end, it’s a pleasant novelty, but has lots of drawbacks.
    Only buy if you can get a very good deal.

    • Greggh says:

      Whenever I play or use the computer with a monitor refresh rate of 60hz I get mild nausea and my eyes feel sore after a very brief period of time. On the other hand if I crank the refresh to 85hz I can go on for hours on end… I never got around to find out why, but I imagine that 120hz would fry my eyeballs XD

      • Shortwave says:

        Honestly it wouldn’t fry your eyeballs. Haha.
        I can’t game on 60hz monitors anymore and you are hardly alone in that.
        Lots and lots of people have been realizing this.
        The higher you go the easier it is on your eyes really dude.
        Also the easier it is to aim with very good accuracy..

        It has a lot of benifits. I’m shocked they were not spoken of in this article really.
        As to me that’s the ONLY real use of 120hz monitors, haha.

        Oh, and all of my games render just fine doing 60-120+ fps in about everything. I dunno’ why you’d say few games can even do that? Ha.

        Just wanted to add, it’s very much perceivable.
        All you have to do is move your move your mouse quickly around in a circle and look at it.
        Bam, there you go.. Easiest way to notice the difference.
        Try it and look at it.. Turn it back to 60hz, do it again.. There you go. You can literally count the improvement and easily see how it’s updating insanely faster. Not only will it make your mouse look and feel twice as smooth though.. Everything does! Good stuff.

        : )

        • Edawan says:

          Yeah I do notice the difference when I move my mouse in Windows, but honestly what’s the point of that ?

          Are you really saying 60Hz LCDs give you headaches ? I remember CRTs at 60Hz were very painful to watch, but LCDs are lit continuously, so you shouldn’t see anything when there isn’t something moving. There’s no flickering.

          • Shortwave says:

            Only in fast moving graphic extensive 3D games really.
            Which I play a lot of very seriously. Ha. Well when I play, I play hard anyways..
            Yea’ it confused me for a long time, tried a lot of different monitors and HDTV’s in the process.

            Also with a lot of the modern mice, they are capable of such insane reporting rates, such quick speeds.. When you compliment it with a monitor like this you can really feel it when aiming.
            So if you play LAN’s it’s definitively something you should be having really. Someone will.. Heh.

    • Vandelay says:

      This is what I was hoping to be discussed in the comments; comparison of 3D in games and 3D film. The others that have commented on how wonderful their 3D tech is haven’t mentioned whether they are one of the weirdos that actually still buy 3D cinema tickets. Although I have thought very little of almost all attempts to do 3D in film (Hugo is the lone exception,) I have often thought that it has potential when it comes to games. Being able to perceive actual depth, rather than the imagined depth our brains figure out when looking at a 2D image could actually improve how we play games.

      Sounds as if it actually just makes things confusing, although it looks quite affective.

      • Shortwave says:

        Hey man, well I mean if Carmac comes out with those VR like glasses with 120hz for EACH eye in 3D it really might start to push the boundries as far as games go, and also possibly relieve a lot of the stress it seems to have on peoples eyes. Pending they can back the graphics up.. Ha. I’ll be totally willing to give that a chance with a game built from the ground up FOR IT. Otherwise I just hope it allows me to run at 240hz or something.

    • royale says:

      Wow I’m surprised to hear you say that about Arkham City because I experienced the exact opposite thing with huge battles. The 3d makes it easier for me to take everything in and I get a much better sense of perspective/placement than I do in 2d. (I’ve played 30+ hours on challenge maps and 3d vs 2d is no contest for me.)

  19. MythArcana says:

    I can’t even afford reading glasses in this economy let alone the Terminator’s spectacles.

  20. Baf says:

    If you find stereoscopic images difficult to look at and don’t know why, Roger Ebert has a rather good explanation. The big problem is the “convergence/focus” issue: when you look at stereoscopic images, you get two contradictory depth cues. The angle that your eyes converge at to make the two images merge gives you an apparent distance to the image, but your lenses have to ignore that distance and focus on the actual distance to the screen. Some people find this easy, some do not.

    • Baf says:

      And to add to that for 3D gaming in particular: As Ebert points out, one of the ways that 3D movies compensate for the convergence/focus problem is that they don’t do any rapid cutting, because even for people who don’t get headaches from it, it still takes the brain a little bit more time to adjust to new distances when it’s not getting any help from the focus depth. But in a game, responding quickly to things happening at different distances can be really important. And, as Edawan points out above, in some games the player is going to be constantly glancing back and forth between the gameworld and the UI overlays.

    • dahauns says:

      Walter Murch (not Ebert himself in this case :) ) is fully correct about the convergence/focus issue. But why the “It will never work” addendum? The tech isn’t there today, but a variable focus lens system combined with eye tracking should theoretically do the trick, shouldn’t it?

  21. syllopsium says:

    I can’t agree with all the 3D hate; I have a Zalman 3D monitor and when it works well it’s excellent. Yes, it’s a polarised monitor so occasionally the loss of vertical resolution is an issue and for 2D use it’s not as good as a reasonable TN panel as the two panels create faint lines across the screen. It’s also not possible to move your eyes up and down much when wearing glasses.

    Otherwise there are few drawbacks, brightness is not an issue (the display is searingly bright by default) and games that literally pop out of the screen make it all worthwhile. I’d single out Portal 2, Lego Batman and Prince of Persia : Sands of Time as having some particularly good 3D. I think Rochard was good too but it’s been a while.

    Driver wise I’ve used both Nvidia and AMD solutions – currently using a 6950. There is no doubt Nvidia offers better 3D support. For AMD 3rd party drivers are required, usually some tweaking and sometimes bugs or a loss of performance. OpenGL is mostly a no go area with AMD and stereoscopic 3D.

    Definitely try 3D if you can – just don’t make it your primary monitor (as mentioned there are no 3D monitors with very high visual quality. They’re all TN panels). Remember also, that games vary dramatically in their 3D usability.

  22. fyro11 says:

    So what’s all this Virtual Reality (Oculus Rift) talk all about? Is that what Alec will enlighten us with?

    EDIT: I want to enter a fully realised hologram. Like, enter enter.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Is it just my dirty mind* or does this sound like that fantastic & craptastic Star Trek episode. =D

      *If sex were dirty

  23. arccos says:

    I’m so sad iZ3D couldn’t work out their issues of crosstalk/ghosting, and ended up discontinuing their monitor line. I really like my monitor, and they could’ve dominated the industry with it except for that one issue.

    Passive lenses, full resolution, no flicker, and pretty cheap to boot! All by using two lcd panels, one in front of the other.

    RIP, iZ3D.

    • Dave L. says:

      I hadn’t realized iZ3D went completely under, that’s a shame. Playing Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge through iZ3D checkerboard output on a 40 inch 3D TV is one of the things that makes me disagree pretty strongly with Jeremy in regards to 3D gaming, but then I rather like 3D movies as well (How To Train Your Dragon, both Kung Fu Pandas, Coraline, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Tron Legacy, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Pina, even Thor and Avengers, despite being post-converts, are all movies that I can’t really watch in 2D)

      Jeremy is also incorrect about how AMD HD3D works. HD3D uses a framepacked output over HDMI, not DisplayPort, to produce 3D images, so it’s compatible with every single 3D TV currently on the market, but not with any old 120hz monitor, since there’d be no way to sync a pair of active glasses. Only a couple of games actually support HD3D natively (Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the only one I can think of. And it’s brilliant in 3D), so for most you’ll need middleware like iZ3D (which you can’t buy a license for anymore) or TriDef. The biggest limitation on AMD is that since it uses framepacked output, you can only use it at 1080p24hz, or 720p60hz, so you’ll sacrifice either framerate or resolution.

      The thing that was great about iZ3D’s checkerboard output was that while you are sacrificing effective resolution, the loss of detail is significantly less apparent than with a vertically interleaved passive display. Objects in the far distance suffer some vignetting, but you don’t get the combing effect on everything as with vertically interleaved.

  24. ResonanceCascade says:

    I personally find 3D slightly more immersive when it comes to games. My eyes handle it really well. My next big upgrade plan is to get stereoscopic support for my rig.

    But the technology still isn’t fully-baked, that’s for sure. I definitely get why people are unimpressed.

  25. digitalsoap says:

    I wish real life was in 3D.

  26. Demiath says:

    Playing games in NVIDIA 3D Vision (2) on a 120hz monitor can be quite wonderful, and it really does add a lot to the experience (if not necessarily to the gameplay) provided that the game itself has good 3D support – which admittedly is far from always the case even if the developers boast about this particular feature. Even NVIDIA’s official brand of approval (“3D Vision Ready”) is a mixed bag in reality. Importantly, however, the issue here is the lack of effort from developers (understandably enough, given the niche-ness of the whole enterprise) and not the concept of desktop 3D gaming itself, which I’d say is a lot more meaningful and technologically sound (i.e. even at the current stage of implementation) than this article suggests.

  27. fish99 says:

    Really enjoy my Asus VG236H + 3D Vision setup. In the right game it absolutely is game changing and increases the immersion a great deal. The majority of people here hating on 3D haven’t had that experience of playing their favourite PC games in 3D.

    I would also agree with the comment that a 120Hz screen is worth having even if you don’t use it for 3D, and luckily the Asus has the best viewing angles I’ve seen on a TN+Film panel, so I can use it as my only screen (I have an S-IPS Dell U2312HM sat right next to it which never gets used anymore). With a 120Hz screen you don’t have to choose between tearing with v-sync off and framerate drops with it on.

  28. Carra says:

    Well, it was either a 27″ Korean 60Hz IPS screen or a 24″ 120Hz. I went with the IPS screen.

    I’m curious to read more about them from Alec. The news about them seems to be spreading, I read article on codinghorror.com a month ago which was discussing them. Can’t be long now until some western firms start selling them.

  29. stirfry says:

    3D is not doomed to be a dumb fad. The problem is that the current form is more like a prototype that’s only tolerable for extreme power users and early adopters. It is far too underdeveloped for mass consumer appeal.

    3D will be successful when 3D monitors and TVs are 1) glasses free 2) they use gaze tracking to deliver a strong sense of depth to multiple viewers in a reasonably wide arc instead of a single “sweet spot” 3) this is all combined in a reasonably priced device. Right now getting 3D to work is an inconvenience that isn’t even worth the effort or expense for too many people.

    I think the Oculus Rift will also be a very popular and different way to enjoy 3D.

    • Shortwave says:

      I think just like a lot of things it needs to run it’s natural course.
      It’s undoubtedly improved A LOT since the old days of red and blue, haha.
      But of course it’s still got a ways to go. But you know, the rate of new technology increases as we/it get’s more intelligent and resourceful. Hopefully it’ll be sooner than we think.. If we get augmented reality down we won’t be far off.. Just utilize the real world and add the elements over top. I’m really excited, ha. Maybe too hopeful and optimistic but eh.. I know smart people are working on it!

  30. NamelessPFG says:

    Going by my experience with an old pair of X3D/eDimensional/ELSA 3D Revelator glasses from the late 1990s, when CRTs with high enough refresh rates for them to be practical were still dominant, 3D support on PC games still needs a bit of refinement.

    -Crosstalk/ghosting can be a problem because the LC shutters on the glasses can’t go totally opaque, and there’s the matter of phosphor persistence on my FD Trinitron G1 monitors possibly leaving brighter effects visible even when it’s supposed to be displaying the other frame. By contrast, my 3DS screen has almost no crosstalk, but suffers from very limited viewing angles.

    -Convergence and focus aren’t too easy to adjust on-the-fly, which makes things like peeking through gunsights in a combat flight simulator more difficult than it should be. It’s not as bad in FPSs as long as you use the “3D laser sight” feature that every 3D driver comes with and disable the default in-game crosshair, though.

    -NVIDIA has undergone a regression with 3D Vision compared to their old Windows XP 3D Stereo driver in that it no longer works with OpenGL games. So much for playing those source ports of classic FPSs in stereo 3D without using an older computer.

    I’m hoping that the Oculus Rift will have retroactive support for existing 3D games in some fashion like the current 3D stereoscopic driver implementations do; as a HMD, it shouldn’t suffer from crosstalk/ghosting issues, and I won’t have to muck around with resolution refresh rate settings all the time just to use my shutterglasses. That, and it gives me some nostalgia vibes from that one time I put on a Forte VFX-1 headset to play Quake.

  31. Radiant says:

    Wait till they start sticking in lightfield technology in moving images.
    With the right gizmos every point of the screen that you look at will be in focus and everything else will be out of focus to give a depth of field effect.

    People talking? Look at them and they will be in focus.
    Look at a chair or art on the wall and that will be the focus.

    Add 3d to that and maybe, no, still don’t give a shit.

    • sophof says:

      You can’t add 3D to a lightfield, it already is 3D. Likely before that we will first use eye-tracking though to ‘fake’ lightfields for a single user only using a HMD. A lightfield itself would be a more or less exact representation depending on the resolution of what can be seen (and a box of those screens the start of a holodeck…)

      I can also already see the comment section filling up with people who swear they get headaches from lightfields, not knowing their screen has now truly become a window ;-)

  32. Radiant says:

    Hey Jez.

    PSUs ffs. thanks.

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      Afraid I’m not really equipped to do PSUs justice. You need proper kit for measuring the, er, electricity and stuff.

      But my general advice is to stick with a decent brand like Corsair or Enermax rather than getting too hung up on quoted wattage.

  33. The First Door says:

    Late in on this, I know! Still, I went through tons of 3D solutions or work and I’d say this: Most 3D gaming solutions are a bit rubbish, but 3D Vision is the best (and most affordable) solution as long as you don’t have fluorescent lighting! Although as NamelessPFG said, ghosting is a real problem when you have bright light sources.

    Sadly, the only way to get around all of these problems for us was to use two monitors and a fancy mirror set up so each eye sees different monitors. Even then though, you get into problems of syncing the two images and such.

    To be fair though, once you do get a nice set up it can be amazing. Not that I’ve ever tried my copy of Mirror’s Edge at work, of course.

  34. Sirow says:

    Long time reader, first time poster! :)

    Personally I think the best (while probably not the cheapest) 3D solutions are really using polarizing projectors + polarizing glasses.
    I always have had problems “getting” the 3D effect from many current solutions, like red-cyan glasses, Zeiss Aerotopo (Used one during my university photogrammetry course), shutter-glasses (same as Zeiss), 3D-Monitors (Lenticular effect), ect.

    But then I got to try out the 3D-Projector setup of our institute of computer graphics (University of Bonn) which employ 2 polarized projectors and circular pol. glasses … and DUDE I was blown away!!!
    That was really the first time I was able to “get” the 3D effect that clear (and colorful) … well apart from that boring-story-game real-life. ^^

    PS: Another not-so-mainstream solution is this:
    http://www.vidimensio.eu/web/index.php?m=3dmonitor&pId=77 (Was able to test this at my photogrammetry course too ^^)
    I guess mainly because its rather space-consuming than other solutions.

    • fish99 says:

      The difference you’re seeing there is just that 3D works better on a projector because there’s no ghosting and because it’s a big screen, it’s actually nothing to do with passive vs active glasses. 3D Vision is also a lot better on a projector.

      I should also say the 3D effect is good on my LCD. They have improved a lot in recent years. The first 3D Vision ready screens (the sammy and viewsonic) had a lot of ghosting.

  35. chris1479 says:

    Acer H5360 Projector + Nvidia 3D Vision + wall = 17ft wide 3D screen in living room. Nuff said.

  36. plugmonkey says:

    “Each eye views the world from a slightly different position and and captures a slightly different image. Your monkey brain receives these offset images and composites them into a single mental picture with depth and perspective.”

    Stereopsis has nothing to do with perspective. I would invite sir to close one eye, should he remain unconvinced.

  37. MiniMatt says:

    prepubescent memory tendrils – yes, I am that old

    works thanks either to similar principles to those animated rulers you had at school

    Um – help? By the prepubescent 90s we’d traded our rulers in for calculators upon which you could type “80085″.

  38. Phasma Felis says:

    It amuses me endlessly how, 15-20 years ago, all the coolest games had “3D” as a prominent feature, and now it’s happening again, except they mean something completely different.

  39. bumma says:

    ‘Gaming on a projector is only ever going to be a niche activity you do occasionally”

    Soo… you basically buy a 3D projector and glasses and then NOT play on it? Uh-oh… I understand… or not…

    Also: there’s no coming back to 2D, seriously, or sth’s wrong with your eyes or brain :E

  40. -Otto says:

    any 3D Vision-compatible monitor will support 120Hz refresh in 2D mode

    Mr. Jeremy Laird, ever since your first monitor article in February, I have been rummaging everywhere online to find out more about 120Hz in 2D, so when you wrote this, did you really mean any 3D-Vision monitor? And not necessarily any 3D capable monitor? This would simplify a lot, and will stop making me paranoid about how vague manufacturers seem to be specifically about refresh rates. I still need to sort out this “Analog/Digital Signal Frequency/Horizontal/Vertical Scanning Rate” terminology.

    Like a few have said before me, I’d rather to wait for the Oculus Rift for 3D effects in games, but my eyes are addicted to smoothness, and gameplay in a higher frame rate is hugely desirable. So I’m quite intent on getting a really good 3D monitor just for 2D. I have money, so what do I care?