YouTube brings 3D to all -- even if the original video was 2D

The online video site now lets users accessing short-form 1080p video to automatically convert them to 3D.

You'll need 3D glasses to watch 3D content on YouTube.
You'll need 3D glasses to watch 3D content on YouTube. CBS Interactive

YouTube last year allowed video creators to convert their clips to 3D. Now, they're giving ordinary viewers the chance to do so.

The online video site today announced that when users access certain 1080p 3D videos from the site, they'll be given a 3D option under the Quality settings pane. Upon clicking it, the video is automatically converted to 3D, which will require users to don their favorite 3D glasses to view it.

In order to get the 3D effect to work, YouTube analyzes a host of video components, including "color, spatial layout, and motion to estimate a depth map for each frame of a monoscopic video sequence." The technology also takes cues from actual 3D videos to get hints for proper depth. After all that information is cataloged, YouTube creates a depth map and finally converts the video to 3D.

As nice as 3D support on 1080p videos sounds, I wasn't able to many videos to view stereoscopically. That may be largely because there aren't that many 1080p videos available on YouTube in the first place.

It's unclear how popular this sort of gimmickry will turn out to be. In my experience, if videos weren't shot in 3D in the first place, the effect tends to fall flat when it's tossed on top of video content. Plus, 3D can get old quite quickly if the effects aren't impressive.

That said, it appears many people are interested in bringing 3D content to YouTube: the company said today that content creators converted "hundreds of thousands" of videos to 3D over the last several months.

 

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