Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How To: Upgrade Your 2D Movies to 3D


9:28 PM | ,

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you know that 3D is this year’s entertainment buzzword. With 3D blockbusters like Avatar scoring megabucks in the theaters, 3D cinema’s jump to the living room is all but a foregone conclusion. But where does that leave all your old 2D files and DVDs?
Thanks to a couple of very cool programs and some clever scripting, there’s hope for them yet. In this article, we’re going to show you how to use AviSynth and VirtualDub, along with a script from the 3D Vision Blog to give any 2D film the 3D treatment.

Convert to 3D with AviSynth

To convert our movies to 3D, we’re going to start with a program called AviSynth, so point your browser at bit.ly/2EO5A2 and download the newest version, then run the installer. You’re probably used to running most new programs after you install them, but don’t bother trying with AviSynth—it doesn’t have a user interface. Instead, it functions as a codec, allowing media viewers such as Windows Media Player to understand AviSynth scripts, in the form of AVS files.
As you may have guessed, we’re going to use one such AVS script to upconvert our 2D file to 3D. It’s not magic—the script simply exploits some common visual cues to take a decent stab at applying a 3D effect to a 2D movie, but it’s certainly better than nothing. The script was written by the author at the 3D Vision Blog, and is available here. Go to the site, copy the script (it’s the first big chunk of code) and paste it into notepad.
Before we can use the script it needs a little customization. First, change the filename at the beginning of the script from “Avatar_Trailer_HD.avi” to the filename of the video you want to upconvert
 Save the script with a .AVS filename extension to the same directory as the video file.

At this point, you’re all set to view your movie in 3D. To do so, simply open a media player that works with AVS scripts (such as Windows Media Player) and tell it to open your freshly created .AVS file. Assuming you’ve done everything right so far, you should see an extra-wide version of your video, with two slightly different frames playing side by side. This is the 3D file, formatted to play with Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology. If you would prefer anaglyph (red/cyan) 3D, for use with a pair of filter glasses, you need to make a quick modification to your script. Comment out (by adding a # to the beginning of the line) the line that says StackHorizontal(f2, f1). Then, uncomment (by removing the #) the line that says # MergeRGB(f2.ShowRed, f1.ShowGreen, f1.ShowBlue).

Save Your 3D Video with VirtualDub

So, we’re looking at our video in 3D. Now we’re done, right? Not quite. AviSynth works in real-time, synthesizing an AVI (get it?) from a source file and a script, frame by frame, as the media player requests those frames. This is hard on your CPU, and means that if you want to view the file on any other computer, you’ll need to install AviSynth first. Instead, we’ll now show you how to permanently save the 3D video to your hard drive.
To save the movie, you’ll need a program called VirtualDub. VirtualDub is a lightweight, open source video editor which is especially good at quickly reencoding videos. Go to the VirtualDub site and download and extract the program.

The next step of the process is to make sure that VirtualDub has the tools it needs to make a high quality copy of the 3D movie. More specifically, it needs codecs—one for video and one for audio. The Xvid MP4 and LAME MP3 codecs are excellent, open source examples of each. If you don’t already have these codecs installed for use with some other media program, you’ll need to get them now. The Xvid codec can be found here, and the LAME codec can be downloaded here. Once you’ve downloaded both, run the installers to registers the Codecs in Windows.
Set VirtualDub to use Xvid by clicking Video -> Compression… and then selecting Xvid MPEG-4 Codec. Set it up for audio by first clicking Audio -> Full processing mode and then clicking Audio -> Compression… and selecting MPEG Layer 3.
 Finally, open the .AVS file for your 3D video, and click File -> Save as AVI. Give your file a name, and you’re done.

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