YouTube’s “Play in 3D” Option: Now Available for All Users

YouTube continues to push itself in offering new tools and features to their site. The latest is a site-wide accessibility to the new 3D tool, a feature which allows users a simple, “one-click-solution” to convert 2D videos to 3D. When this feature was first offered last September, as it was in beta testing, it was available to only YouTube creators. Now it’s available to creators and viewers – any user can now, should they choose, convert short-form videos uploaded in 1080p to 3D.

Rather than relying on the creators to offer 3D, viewers can take matters into their own hands. Viewers access the 3D options in the video’s ‘Quality’ settings, and with a simple click, can enjoy the content in 3D – well, at least a form of 3D. This 3D option is not traditional 3D – YouTube’s system does not use two simultaneously captured videos. Instead, this 3D takes its form from a software hack that utilizes various techniques in order to convert regular 2D content to 3D. While not of the same quality as true 3D, it is certainly advanced enough to work.

These various techniques are far from simplistic – to run this project requires a daunting amount of work, including cloud computing scalability, making the feature a highly-impressive one indeed. On its blog, YouTube fleshes out some of the technology employed to make this a viable feature. ‘Various techniques’ of the technology include using a combination of video characteristics – colour, motion, spatial layout – to create estimations of depth. These depth estimations are then improved upon by machine learning processes – processes activated as YouTube receives more and more 3D videos.

So what sparked such a massive project? Behind all this work is the hope that 3D will become the next video trend in casual video viewing. While one can certainly see the benefits and enhanced experience of watching certain videos with this 3D option, we all know the many videos on YouTube where 3D might seem a tad unnecessary, if not absolutely absurd. However, who knows exactly what the future will bring? Perhaps soon enough, we won’t even give it a second though, and watch all videos, no matter the content, in 3D.


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