First Look: Arcsoft SIM3D plug-in for Total Media Theater

Back at CES Ian and I were given a demonstration of 3d Blu-Ray playing in Arcsoft Total Media Theater with Nvidia’s 3d glasses. Now that technology has been released by Arcsoft and I have had the chance to play with it.

The first thing to say is it is a plug-in for Total Media Theater and won’t work unless you have the latest versionof that product (a free patch to existing users is available to allow use of the plug-in). The second thing is that it is not a free plug-in as we were given the impression it might be at CES but instead costs $19.99 (or less this 4th of July weekend as Arcsoft are having a sale)

Having said that this plugin does far more than just play back 3D Blu-Rays and is probably worth the extra price.

For my quick test I have to first say I do not currently have any 3d Blu-Rays – they are not on retail sale over here in the UK yet. Nor do I have an Nvidia chip set in my computer so the Nvidia 3D glasses were out of the questions. So what use is it you might ask…

To quote from ArcSoft’s site:-

3D Plug-in includes the following solutions

  • Blu-ray 3D™ movie – Blu-ray 3D™ (a.k.a. BD3D) is a new Blu-ray Association standard (Profile 5) in which the title is encoded in Multiview Video Coding (MVC) format, an extension of the H.264 video format, to create a realistic stereo 3D viewing.
  • 3D simulation with our new technology, Sim3D™ – Simply Turns 2D Photos and Movies Into Stereo 3D – Sim3D™ is ArcSoft latest in-house technology, transforming your favorite 2D photos and video footage into 3D in real-time, bringing you into a whole new 3D viewing experience. Sim3D is now available for TotalMedia Theatre® 3.
  • Native Stereo 3D movies and video files – Native stereo 3D movies and videos include Youtube 3D files, and 3D videos that are encoded in Left/Right, Top/Bottom, Anaglyph, and more.

The 3D simulation is what I have tested and I have beeen remarkably impresed with. The extra depth it added to my holiday movies was almost magical – as a programmer i haven’t go the first idea how you would work out an algorithm to choose what is in the foreground or the background. In fact the only other product I have seen do such a good job are the vastly expensive Cell TV’s.

One of the nice features is it gives you a choice of different output modes (again quioting from the site):

3D displays modes

  • Regular Monitor – Select this mode of your display is not a 3D-ready display. This mode works with Red/Cyan anaglyph glasses.
  • PageFlip – Select this mode if your display is a Frame Sequential NVIDIA 3D Vision 120Hz (or higher) display, AMD Quad Buffer Stereo monitor, or HDMI 1.4 3DTV*. This type of display normally works with active (battery-powered) shutter glasses.
  • Line Interleaved – Select this mode if your display is a Micro Polarized LCD TV that supports Line Interleave 3D output. This type of 3D TV normally works with passive glasses.
  • Checkerboard – Select this mode if your display is a 3D-ready DLP TV that supports Checkerboard output. This type of TV works with active (battery-powered) shutter glasses.

Swap Left/Right image when you experience eyestrain in 3D mode
Some displays may have swapped images between the left and right eye which can cause eyestrain when reversed. If you experience eyestrain, you can try using this option.

I choose Regualr Monitor as I had a very good quality pair of anaglyph (cyan/red) glasses lying around (I use them for testing my work at www.TintMyScreen.com fooling my eyes into working with different colours)

The result as I have said were pretty impressive with just 2d imagery.

I also tried a couple of 3d encoded files of the internet Right/Left and top/bottom encoded files worked very well but I was unable to see any 3d effect with a couple of multistream encoded WMV files from the Nvidia site.

In conclusion even with the limited effectiveness of the Anaglyph glasses this gave very good results and I would expect the appearance with shutter technology to be amazing. If you already have TMT3 this is a very reasonably priced way of getting into the world of 3D. The other great thing is if you are prepared to use anaglyph it gives a way of watching 3D Blu-Rays without having to change your TV for a 3D ready one

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