Stereoscopic3D FAQ

Christoph Bungert

page released April 18, 1998
last update April 1, 2005

Hot current topics
Hardware basics
3D-video, DVD and television

*** Hot current topics ***

Q: I've got an ATI-VGA-board, now where can I get a game-driver for my 3D-glasses?

A: ATI seems to have no plans for a stereo driver of their own. As an eDimensional customer you can use the eDim driver.

Q: I installed the nVidia graphics driver and the nVidia stereo driver, but I don't see the stereo panel in the VGA properties. What's the problem?

A: The stereo-driver and VGA-driver version numbers must match - download links here.

Q: Can I use 3D-shutterglasses with my LCD display or notebook?

A: Usually not. LCD's produce speed-, frame rate-, synchronization- and polarization-problems when used with shutterglasses. LCD-monitors digitize the incoming VGA signal and convert it to their native internal refresh and resolution. Even if you choose the right native refresh rate, which is usually 60 Hz, the sync may be off.  Some LCD monitors even emit polarized light which may not be visible through your shutterglasses at all. Some new LCD-monitors do work to a certain degree, but you are usually stuck at 60 Hz with heavy flicker and some sync-errors. There are other stereo3D solutions for LCD-technology available. In order to use shutterglasses on your notebook/laptop you have to plug it into a standard CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor!
eDimensional has released shutterglasses which are supposed to work with LCD-monitors. They solved the polarization problem. I'm not sure if they modified the controller for time-gap compensation. The available refresh rates should usually range between 60 and 75Hz.

Q: What happened to the

A: read here

Q: I would like to buy 3D equipment from Can you send me your catalogue and prices?

A: No. is - up to now - an independent, non-commercial site. There is currently nothing for sale.

Q: Can you send me additional informations, recommendations, dealer addresses for my area, manufacturer addresses, product lists, price lists, schematics, etc., etc...?

A: No, usually not. All the informations I have are here on the site. Don't forget to check index, links, best buy, download and the webboard.

Q: My question isn't covered on this page! What should I do?

A: Post to the webboard. Don't write an email, unless your inquiry is confidential.

Q: I've got some older 3D-glasses. Which driver software can I use?

A: Post to the webboard and give us the following information: brand and model of glasses, operating system, VGA-chipset and driver version, game-title or application. The community at the board will tell you if there is a fitting driver.

Q: My glasses are flickering irregularly when using the nVidia driver.

A: There are usually 4 possible reasons:

Reason 1) DCC (display control channel) conflict with your monitor (affects Revelator, i-glasses, eDim, X3D, Virtual-i and others with DCC-trigger)
    a) If your monitor doesn't support DCC at all make shure the pins 12 and 15 of the VGA cable aren't connected to 'ground', otherwise continue with step d)
    b) If your monitor only supports DCC1 the glasses won't work - go to step d)
    c) If your monitor supports DCC2 you should disable power management.  Don't switch off and on the monitor as long as the PC is on, otherwise the monitor will fall back into DCC1 mode, resulting in glasses failure.
    d) Get a seperate monitor cable and remove pins 12 and 15 (don't do this on the cable which is fixed to your monitor or you'll loose the warranty). The cable has to sit beween the glasses-controller and the monitor (monitor -> fixed monitor cable -> manipulated monitor cable -> glasses cable -> VGA-board)

pins 12 and 15

(support information and image gathered from the pages of the 'old' ELSA AG)

Alternate solution:

If you have other DCC-driven glasses than Revelator (i.e. i-glasses and the like) use the 'Activator' tool from the manufacturer website of your glasses to switch from DCC-trigger to standard page-flipping (autosync).

Reason 2) IRQ conflict - prevent shared IRQ's between VGA and other devices, remove force-feedback devices from gameport, disable EAX on Soundblaster cards
Reason 3) Infrared signal conflict with other IR sources, lamp or sunlight
Reason 4) broken glasses

Q: What are the best 3D-glasses?

A: Check the Best Buy page

Q: What is the cheapest and/or best consumer 3D-VR-helmet?

A: Most consumer HMD's don't support stereo3D. So there's not much choice. You may check out the i-glasses SVGA 3D for  $ 999,- (headphone and headtracking not included). Check here for dealers.

Q: Which is the best headtracker or which 3D-VR-helmet/HMD got the best headtracker?

A: Haven't tested many. The tracker in the VFX3D was pretty good, but I didn't like the displays. Better buy the head mounted display of your choice and get a seperate 3rd party headtracker like the VirtuaTrack.

Q: Can I use the nVidia reference stereo driver with my ASUS glasses?

A: Yes, but there are some problems, please read here!

Q: Where can I purchase the ASUS VR100 upgrade kit?

A: The upgrade kit is very hard to get and it's outdated. Better get some other glasses. They should support at least page-flipping and they should have buttons for manual override. Check the Best Buy page. All glasses which support autosync-page-flipping or Revelator-trigger-page-flipping will work for the nVidia driver.

Q: I have some 3D-shutterglasses, but I don't know how to connect them. I have no controller or the controller doesn't fit.

A: You can build a controller. Check the homebrew-page. Another option is to buy a new set of glasses, which has a controller with a second jack of the same type. So you got two pairs of glasses. Most wired glasses have a 3.5 mm stereo jack. Only problem is that in some rare cases the wiring is reversed compared to most other brands. Check if both glasses show the same stereo orientation when connected to the same controller.

Q: What is the best game-driver for 3D-glasses?

A: The nVidia stereo driver for nVidia based VGA-bords. Download links here.

Q: Can I use other VGA-chipsets than nVIDIA for true 3D gaming?

A: Maybe with the eDimensional driver, but better forget about this. It will be a bug-hunt, a waste of time. Go for a nVIDIA board!

Q: What is the best driver for stereoscopic 3D applications and images?

A: WINx3D. There is no substitute, everything else is outdated. Some expensive, professional VGA-boards come with their own OpenGL stereo driver though. Unfortunately WINx3D was just aquired by X3D and it's future is unclear. The download page is gone. As a consumer you should go for the nVIDIDA stereo driver.
In general you should only buy glasses with sync-doubler and/or line-blanker technology which can display stereo-images, -videos and -applications without the help of a software-driver.

Q: I need an original Wicked3D eyeScream CD-ROM or code, but the website is down. Can you send me a CD or cracked code?

A: The company behind Wicked3D - Metabyte - still exists, but they cancelled the Wicked3D product line and most likely they won't offer any support. Nevertheless it is illegal to pirate their software. The Wicked3D drivers are discontinued and outdated. Most likely you wouldn't get it to work with current versions of DirectX and current VGA-drivers anyway. If you want to waste time and money you could try to buy a copy on eBay. Better give up and go for another driver software and/or a new VGA-board.

Q: What about 3D-glasses under Linux and MacOS?

A: Get some 3D-glasses with sync-doubler and/or line-blanker technology which don't require a driver at all - when used with native stereo-content. If you want to play games in stereo get WindowsXP and a  nVidia-board!

Q: What about stereo under Windows 95 and Windows NT?

A: Outdated! Even Microsoft has cancelled - or is about to cancel - support for these operating systems. Upgrade!

Q: Can I use my single DLP or LCD-projector/beamer with 3D-shutterglasses?

A: It depends. Some DLP- and even some LCD-projectors do work, at least in 60Hz-NTSC-video-mode and sometimes even in 60Hz-VGA and 50Hz-PAL-video-mode. You are usually stuck with the 60Hz native refresh of the projector, resulting in flicker. However 3D-DVD's in this configuration can still be pretty impressive. If you have a projector it's worth trying, but don't buy one just for 3D purposes, unless the dealer gives you time for testing. There are professional 3D-DLP projectors for shutterglasses available by Barco and ChristieDigital - at a 'professional' price! Please read my detailed comments on 3D-DLP-projection.

*** BASICS ***

Q: What is Stereoscopic 3D?

A: Humans got two eyeballs which deliver two slightly different perspective views of the world. From the slight differences between the two images the brain calculates the relative distance of object we see. The result is a sense of depth!

Q: I have poor or no vision on one eye. Does that mean I can't see 3D?

A: Yes, almost, but stereoscopy isn't the only aspect of 3D. Perspective is another aspect. Looking at a moving object also yields more information than seeing a static object. There once was an experimental 3D-system which had the camera constantly bumping up and down. I saw this on TV and it gave a surprisingly accurate sense of space, although it was monoscopic. It's not stereo at all, but it just does feed more information into the brain. By moving the camera in certain ways one can see how objects in the environment relate to each other, thus giving information about relative distances, without using the mechanics of normal stereo vision.

Q: I already saw a 3D-movie. I tried 3D-glasses for the PC. I saw 3D-images in magazines and on corflakes boxes wearing red/blue glasses. I used a Viewmaster and other things 3D, but I never became too excited about this. I saw no or little improvement over normal movies, images, etc. What's the hype about this 3D stuff? It's just lame!

A: Well, if you don't like it, just leave it. However, some experts estimate that up to 30% of the population suffer from stereo-vision anomalies and that up to 10% of the population are  stereo-blind. If you're interested in the matter you may see your optomologist and ask for a stereoscopic vision test.

Q: I thought Doom, Quake and the like are 3D-programs already, so what's the buzz about these 3D-glasses and -helmets?

A: So-called 3D-games deliver a perspective view, but the images have no depth. For real depth perception the computer has to calculate two different perspectives of the same scene. Also there has to be some hardware which delivers one view exclusively to the right eye and one to the left eye.

Q: Do I need this Stereo3D stuff?

A: You wouldn't buy a monochrome monitor, would you? Now that we all have color TV and color PC-monitors 3D vision is the next logical step.

Q: Do I need it NOW?

A: Not necessarily. The technology isn't mature yet, but if you're after the coolest, newest stuff you should get it.

Q: Is there a way to transform standard 2D applications, games, images or movies into Stereo3D?

A: No. There is no easy way to transform 2D material into real Stereo3D. Stereo3D software has to be programmed this way, which is quite a task. Fortunately there are some common 3D-APIs (i.e. OpenGL and Direct3D) which make things much easier for PC-games and applications. There are universal stereo3d-drivers by companies, such as nVidia, VRStandard and eDimensional  which can use the z-values of 3D-objects to calculate real stereo for almost any PC-game or 3D-application.

Photographs and movies are required to be shot in 3D in the first place (with 2 camera lenses). There are products on the market which claim to transform any standard TV-broadcast, DVD or video into 3D. Although there is some stereo-information hidden in moving objects, which can be utilized for 2D to 3D conversion, the results are doubtful. I don't recommend such products.

It's also possible to process photo or film manually to give them some depth by separating and manipulating back- and foreground objects. The procedure is expensive and unsatisfying. Honestly, I don't like the whole idea of 2D to 3D conversion.

Q: What are the basic 3D-image types for stereoscopic software?

A: There are usually 3 types of images used in stereoscopic software (not to be confused with stereoscopic display types and methods):

line-sequential image: the two images (stereo pairs) are woven into each other in alternating lines and can be watched with shutterglasses using interlace, line-blanking, software-page-flipping or hardware-page-flipping methods. Systems like VR-Joy, EyeFX, H3D which have line-blanker devices and most stereo-HMDs are able to make use of this format without leaving standard video mode and without any additional driver software.

over-under image: the two images are displayed separately one above the other and transformed by a sync-doubler shutterglasses controller into a flipping image, without any additional driver software.

2 seperate full-resolution images: the two images are stored seperately in the graphics memory and are never shown on the screen simultaneously, but sequentially. This format can be watched with shutterglasses or certain HMDs using  software-page-flipping or hardware-page-flipping methods.

In order to be watched with 3D-shutterglasses all image formats have to be shown as a flipping image by utilizing a special 3D-VGA-driver or with the help of the sync-doubler or line-blanker electronics of the glasses controller.

Q: How can I do my own 3D-pictures?

A: Most glasses come with a program which merges two images, shot with a 3D-camera or calculated with a 3D-software (like 3D-Studio-Max) into Stereo3D pictures. Some of these programs are available for download on the net. Check the applications-page.


Q: What's the difference between VR-helmets and shutterglasses?

A: VR-helmets/headsets/HMDs (head mounted devices) got little monitors built into the helmet. These headsets are basically "wearable" monitors. Shutterglasses on the other hand don't produce an image at all.  They just alter the perception of what you see on your standard monitor. They go black on the right side while the monitor displays the image dedicated to your left eye and vice versa. By doing this at a high rate a real 3D image can be seen.

Q: What's the resolution and color depth of 3D-shutterglasses?

A: Shutterglasses don't have any resolution. You're just watching your monitor screen through these glasses.

Q: What about headtracking?

A: Shutterglasses usually don't have headtracking. There are professional solutions which offer some kind of headtracking (Stereographics CrystalEyes VR). Some HMD's have integrated headtrackers, some not. One can always add headtracking by using a seperate, 3rd party headtracker.

Q: What's the resolution and color depth of VR-helmets?

A: Most consumer VR-helmets got a resolution of 263x230 pixels per eye at 256 or 65k colors. The latest models, like the i-glasses SVGA got true 800x600.

Q: I saw a 3D-movie in a theme park wearing some cheap transparent glasses. Can't this technolgy be used for TV and PC as well?

A: Yes, but this polarization technique requires a special monitor or a monitor add-on which is considerably more expensive than shutterglasses. Polarization could be added to any LCD-monitor. In mass-production this would raise the cost for such a 3D-LCD-monitor by about $20. Until now no major LCD-manufacturer agreed to add this technology.

Q: Will my current VGA-board or 3D-accelerator work with 3D-shutterglasses?

A: It varies with each 3D-system used. Check back with the glasses manufacturer for a VGA-chipset compatibility list.

Q: Can I play accelerated Stereo3D-games with my 3D-accelerator?

A: Yes. There are universal stereo3d-drivers, like the one by nVidia, which can calculate real stereo for almost any PC-game.

Q: Does the game-stereo driver stuff, like nVidia, really work?

A: Yes. It works on the 3D-API level (Direct3D, OpenGL). Since the API allows access to the 3D raw data the depth of objects can be determined. Since 3D-games are usually not written with Stereo3D in mind they often contain depth-errors, like wrong position of horizon, dust, fire, lightspots. Sometimes the differences in depth value between objects is so small no considerable effect is achieved. Therefore some programs look great, while others should be left in 2D mode.

Q: Which graphics modes are used for Stereo3D?

A: HMDs and shutterglasses capable of sync-doubling and/or line-blanking work in normal graphics modes, in other words: on any graphics-card.
Other shutterglasses require the graphics-card to deliver one of these: software-page-flipping, hardware-page-flipping or interlace-mode.
This requirement is the main cause of incompatibilities.

Q: Will my monitor work with 3D-glasses?

A: It depends. It must be a CRT (tube) monitor. I recommend a monitor which supports a horizontal frequency of at least 80 kHz and a vertical frequency of at least 120 Hz.

Q: I got my 3D-glasses working, but the flicker makes me sick.

A: Under Windows use the graphics-setup to increase the refresh rate.

Q: I got my 3D-glasses working, but the image looks strange. I experience eye-strain and headaches. What's wrong?

A: The stereo-orientation may be reversed. In this case the right image is delivered to the left eye and vice versa. Some glasses have a stereo-reverse switch. Some programs, have a software switch to reverse stereo.

Q: I have a 3D-accellerator board with Stereographics/VESA-3/mini-DIN-3 3D-glasses port. (Click here for a list of such boards.) Which glasses and software will fit?

A: Glasses with DIN-3 jack are offered by StereoGraphics, NuVision and ELSA. For VESA compliant software check StereoGraphics and Win3D. This solution isn't suitable for gaming. Just for professional stuff!

Q: My gfx-board has a so called 'StereoGraphics'-connector. Will the StereoGraphics SimulEyes glasses fit in?

A: No! The 'StereoGraphics' connector, which usually is a mini DIN-3 jack, requires certain models of the professional CrystalEyes product family.

Q: Why do my StereoGraphics SimulEyes not work with StereoGraphics compliant professional software?

A: StereoGraphics once offered two product lines: the professional CrystalEyes and the consumer-oriented, now discontinued, SimulEyes. These products are almost completely incompatible to each other.

Q: Which shutterglasses are the best buy?

A: Check the review and the best buy pages.

Q: Do I need some wireless glasses?

A: Well, are you going to dance in front of the PC or would you go to the bathroom with your glasses on? I doubt it. Wired glasses don't require batteries and are running at full efficiency all the time. On the other hand I enjoy my wireless glasses a lot <g>!

Q: I have some shutterglasses with serial or parallel port controller. The speed loss, the configuration problems and the lack of Windows desktop support makes me sick. What should I do?

A: Spend $5 on some electronic parts, grab your soldering iron and build a VGA-dongle controller for your glasses. Check the Homebrew-VR section for details. Please note with a VGA-autosync-controller left and right may flip causing a reversed stereo-image. Each time that happens you'll have to reach for the reverse-button.


Q: Is 3D-video any good?

A: It's interesting, but not satisfying. Standard NTSC/PAL video flickers a lot since it's stuck at 50/60 Hz. 3D-VHS tapes have poor resolution and quality. The 3D effect is good though. 3D-DVD's can be played on the PC, which gives much better results. 3D-video on the PC is more difficult. Read on.

Q: I own a consumer camcorder. Can I shoot my own 3D-videos?

A: Yes, there are 3D-adaptors for standard consumer camcorders available. The 3D-videos done with such a system can be used in several ways. Editing of the tapes can be done with standard equipment. You can watch them using shutterglasses or certain HMDs like CyberMaxx or i-glasses. They can be transfered to the PC using a special digitizer card also.

Q: I got a 100/120 Hz digital TV-set. Doesn't this help to reduce flicker with 3D-video?

A: NO! Most likely it won't work at all unless the 3D-glasses-controller is built into the TV-set. Such 3D-build-in TV-sets exist. Add-on solutions, like those listed here, won't work! (For you experts: The external shutterglasses controller can't sync to the doubled internal frequency of such TV-sets. The controller just can't "see" the internal signal.)

Q: I saw an offer for a digital box which reportedly transforms standard television and video into 3D. Is this of any use?

A: Not really. At least you can use the box to watch native 3D-video tapes, 3D-DVDs or even future 3D-television broadcasts. It also might be used to digitally convert NTSC video to PAL and vice versa. When it comes to transforming standard TV-broadcasts or standard video-tapes from your local video store into 3D - forget it. The only thing you'll get is a cheap fake 3D effect. It'll wear off in no time.

Q: I heard of software which can turn any standard DVD or TV-program into stereoscopic 3D. Is this any good?

A: No, it's almost a fake. Read my review and spend your money on true 3D content.

Q: Can I use my PC-shutterglasses to watch 3D-DVD's?

A: Yes, check the 3D-DVD page

Q: Can I use my PC and PC-shutterglasses to watch, record and edit my NuView 3D-video-tapes or my retail 3D-VHS tapes?

A: Yes, but this is rather complicated. Discuss this with others on the webboard.