Anaglyph (the stereoscopic 3D viewing format that uses glasses with oppositely colored lenses) is not the ideal way to watch 3D content, but until you own a proper 3D monitor or TV (trust me, you will…), it’s one of your only options. The good news is, anaglyph doesn’t have to suck, as long as you follow a few guidelines. Also in the “pros” column: it works with any TV or computer monitor and the glasses are dirt cheap, or even free. In this post, I’ve got a few tips for watching anaglyph 3D content that will help reduce eye-strain and make for a better stereo viewing experience. In an upcoming post, I’ll detail some strategies for 3D content producers to facilitate making good 3D video, anaglyph and otherwise.
5 Tips for watching Anaglyph (colored glasses) 3D:
1. Turn off or dim the lights and draw the blinds. Sources of luminance in your viewing area, other than your screen, will compete for your eyes’ attention and cause distracting reflections on your display or on your glasses. A darkened viewing environment will allow your eyes to relax into the 3D space unfolding in front of you.
2. Make sure you have the correct color over the correct eye! In the case of Red/Cyan 3D glasses, red always goes over your Left eye, and cyan always goes over your Right eye. If you reverse these, the 3D effect you’ll see will be reversed; elements that should be in the foreground will appear to be in the background and vice versa. You’ll have turned your 3D glasses into a pseudoscope, resulting in an eerie inside-out experience…
3. Sit up straight. Tilting or leaning your head from side to side effectively undoes all the careful alignment that professional 3d content producers (like me!) agonize over, and your eyes are forced to compensate in an unnatural way. This goes for any kind of 3D viewing method– even the newest 3D TVs and movie theaters. Without a doubt this is the most significant source of eye strain and it’s 100% avoidable…
4. When you have the choice, choose a black & white or gray anaglyph format if available. On YouTube, this choice is labeled as “Red / Cyan Glasses: B” (?don’t ask me why!). This viewing method eliminates all color in the movie except for the Red and Cyan colors used by your 3D glasses to filter the stereo view. It results in a “cleaner” viewing experience, uncluttered by any other colors that will inevitably cause eye strain and a less-than-optimal stereo experience.
5. Calibrate your monitor. Ever walk into TV department of your local big-box electronic store and take a gander at the wall of TVs all playing the same movie? Notice how they all look slightly different in terms of color, contrast and brightness? That’s because, off the shelf, every screen displays the same picture differently, and in most cases, it’s far from the color the producer intended. In many scenarios, that may not matter at all. But in the case of anaglyph 3D, it’s critical. The red/cyan colors of your glasses are tuned to filter precise colors from the display device; if those colors are shifted, the filtering is negatively affected, and consequently so is your 3D viewing experience. Pause your tv on a suitable still frame from an anaglyph movie and adjust the picture setting on your TV until the “bleed” from the left and right eye views is minimized in the opposite eyes. Even better, pick up an inexpensive monitor calibrator and let it do the work for you.
I hope these tips come in handy as you navigate the tsunami of new stereoscopic 3D content that’s on the way. Put it to use while watching some of my 3D photo & video HERE or on my YouTube channel HERE.