Stereo at GDC

GDC 2005 was in San Francisco this year, and it was the first GDC where we were able to get a good showing, out on the Expo floor, of the NVIDIA Stereo Driver. This came with the advent of two great display partners: the dep3d rear-projection display that you can see clearly here, and (where the knot of people behind the Dep3D are looking) a Planar SD1300 stereo display.

Both of these displays allow large-screen stereo, in color, with simple passive polarized glasses. The glasses are even comfortable. The Planar display is smaller, a desktop-sized device composed of two precision LCD monitors and a half-silvered mirror.

The NVIDIA stereo driver is a bit of magic that allows existing games and other software to use a stereo display without being written explicitly for stereo display. It's really quite amazing, hundreds of game titles work with stereo 3D right out of the box. The developers themselves may not have even known their game was 3D-ready. The stereo driver intercepts their 3D software calls to the graphics API (DirectX and OpenGL are graphics APIs, for readers unfamiliar with the lingo), and just automagically does the right thing with the multiple views.

These displays are so great — they really solve a nagging problem I've been concerned about: how to display large (and potentially color) stereo imagery? Sometimes a card doesn't cut it. Stereo slide displays are great but require lighting control. These new monitors have snappy color, work in bright light, and are useful for something beyond photo display: they work great with video games.

I'd be very interested to see, as these displays propogate, if more artists like Daniel Huenergardt appear — willing to paint directly in stereo.

(Finally, please excuse the slightly-sloppy stereo pair! It's hard enough to shoot a hand-held pair via the cha-cha method, mch less in a room full of moving people....)

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