One ‘bonus’ of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic is that it has made stereoscopic event organisers look into different ways to host their events or monthly meetings online, making them accessible to many more people. Zoom seems to be the option of choice at the moment so I thought I’d share a post about how you can join in and where to find details about meetings which can be attended virtually.
VIEWING ON ZOOM
The link to download the Zoom app can be found on their website. It’s free to use as an attendee and is available worldwide except for the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine (Crimea Region). To attend a Zoom meeting the host will provide a link or a meeting ID which you can click on or add to the app to attend. It’s also possible to attend without using an app, the Zoom website help section offers lots of guides on different ways to use Zoom and attend meetings. I advise you to take note of the timezone in which the event is hosted and convert it to your own timezone – I admit that I’ve been in an empty Zoom meeting room wishing I had checked my own timezone correctly!
Once you’re set up to attend then you have to decide on how to view the stereoscopic images/videos. Usually the host will explain what format/ which formats they will use; I wrote a guide on how to view stereoscopic images in an earlier blog post which may also be helpful.
SIDE-BY-SIDE PARALLEL-VIEW FORMAT IMAGES
In the side-by-side parallel-view format you may need a stereoscope if you can’t freeview, you don’t want to freeview for too long, or if the images are too large on the screen you are viewing them on. Please note that if you find the images are too large you can sometimes reduce the Zoom screen’s size to help (see below). It’s also important to note that this format, when used in Zoom, usually cannot automatically be used with 3D TVs; a separate system usually needs to be used (such as the HTML 5 3D viewer below or streaming through YouTube if the host has enabled it), contact the host for more details.
For a smartphone or small screen I recommend the London Stereoscopic Company’s OWL VR Kit, which will hold your phone in place with a magnet and enable you to view the smartphone whilst holding it up. The lenses don’t over-magnify the images, which I find many 3-D viewers designed for smartphones tend to do. The smaller and inexpensive versions of the OWL VR Kit are the London Stereoscopic Company’s Lite OWL and the studier Steampunk OWL, which can also be used with a smartphone laid flat or supported in some way. I find these viewers also don’t over-magnify (the Lite OWL however has a shorter focal length) and can be carried in a pocket or handbag to have at hand; the only tricky part is when you’re getting used to using one you have to find the ‘sweet-spot’ of where to hold the viewer away from the phone to get the best stereoscopic effect (but remember to keep it against your eyes like a pair of glasses, don’t hold it away from your face or it makes it even more complicated). The Lite OWL has a small hole on either side which you can tie string or elastic to to make it wearable without having to constantly hold it in place. Also remember that if you’ve already bought books from the London Stereoscopic Company, they all have a stereoscope which can be used with a smartphone. There is also a small viewer made by Loreo, the Loreo Lite which is better for those with eyes closer together, you can order these directly from Loreo, based in the USA, and you can often find these for sale on Amazon and eBay at a good price. In the UK, you can also order these directly from the Widescreen Centre website.
On a larger screen in side-by-side parallel-view format, such as a computer or laptop monitor, a mirrored or prismatic stereoscope can be used. The one I use everyday is the NVP3D stereoscope. The mirrors do not distort the images, as I’ve noticed in other mirrored-viewers, and there’s a knob on the top which allows you to adjust the angle of the mirrors so you can view different-sized stereoscopic images on a variety of different-sized monitors. An inexpensive prismatic stereoscope for monitors is the Loreo Pixi 3D viewer (which are unfortunately being discontinued, but you may also find them on eBay), recommended for 10 to 15 inch wide 3D images. I like that it enables the user to loop it around their ears so they can use it hands-free, but I’m afraid I have not tried one of these myself so I cannot comment yet about the quality of the stereoscopic effect it produces. There are other prismatic viewers which can be also used for the larger screens, you can order some from Berezin in the USA; please see the individual glasses/viewers on this website for their recommendations for use with particular screen sizes.
SIDE-BY-SIDE CROSS-VIEW FORMAT IMAGES
For side-by-side cross-view images please see my tutorial on how you can view these without a stereoscope, be aware though that if you leave your camera on everyone will see you staring at them cross-eyed!
Many events and meetings use anaglyph images and it’s important to note that, so far, I’ve only seen images displayed in red/cyan anaglyphs. Other coloured anaglyph glasses are available but you will not be able to view the anaglyphs as they are intended to be seen unless you have the correct colour glasses, so it’s always worth checking before buying. Also note that the red lens should be on the left eye, otherwise your glasses will be upside-down and
you’ll look like a really uncool 1980s British snooker player….the 3-D images will be inverted. You can buy anaglyph glasses easily and inexpensively on Amazon and eBay, sometimes you might even find a suitable pair kicking about in a 3-D book or comic. Some examples of websites selling them directly in different countries are: American Paper Optics (USA), The Widescreen Centre (UK), 3D Glasses Shop (UK), De Wijs (Netherlands), 3D Stereo (USA).
Some hosts have developed ways to show parallel- and cross-view side-by-side formats and anaglyphs all on the same Zoom screen at once so you can choose whichever format you prefer and magnify that area if necessary.
HTML 5 3D VIEWER
Another example I’ve seen is the event organiser using Masuji Suto’s HTML5 3D Viewer. The organiser hosts the images or videos which will be viewed during the Zoom meeting on a separate website and using the HTML5 3D viewer, you can choose from a drop-down list which format you’d like to view them in, this also allows the images to be viewed on 3-D TVs.
RECOMMENDED DESKTOP ZOOM SETTINGS FOR PARALLEL-VIEW IMAGES
We recommend the following settings for optimal viewing of parallel side-by-side stereoscopic images and videos on desktop apps:
- During the Zoom sessions the presentations should be viewed in either the side-by-side gallery view or side-by-side speaker view. Details about how to change to these views can be found on the Zoom website here (look for the options at the top middle and top right of the Zoom screen).
- We also recommend that the screen is viewed in ‘fit to window’, this option can be found next to the green screen share icon at the top middle and is in the dropdown box.
- To adjust the size of the presentation to make it easier for those who wish to free-view or use a stereoscope we suggest that once the side-by-side gallery or side-by-side speaker view is in use, you can move a grey slider bar found between the presentation and the gallery/speaker areas and slide this to the left to reduce the image size to about 7″/18cm, about the size of original stereoview cards.
- A ‘getting started’ guide to Zoom can be found here.
Please note that a good internet connection is highly recommended for viewing videos on Zoom.
ONLINE EVENTS AND MEETINGS
Now you have the means but where do you find the meetings?
For events and meetings organised by museums, institutions, companies, individuals, etc. I regularly add blog posts announcing them, so please check them out.
For amateur camera-club style meetings the following list shows some of the current stereoscopic clubs/ societies which are hosting regular meetings by Zoom. This blog is not associated with any club or society so please click on their website links and contact them directly for information about how to attend their events:
Stereo Club Tokyo http://www.stereoclub.jp/ (Instagram account with English translations: https://www.instagram.com/stereoclubtokyo/)
The New York Stereoscopic Association http://www.3dnsa.org
Ohio Stereo Photographic Society http://www.drt3d.com/ohio3d/
Stereoscopic Society, UK http://www.stereoscopicsociety.org.uk/WordPress/
I hope you find this useful and feel you can get involved. Now is a great opportunity to discover new events without even having to leave your own home. Have fun!
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