How to View 3D

Between September 30, 2014 and October 14, 2014, Youtube disable the 3D video player support. However, as of October 15th, the 3D video player is working again in

  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox for Windows and Mac OS X
  • Opera for Windows and Mac OS X
  • Safari for Mac OS X

The 3D video player is NOT working in Google’s own Chrome browers, which defaults to the HTML5 video player, which does not presently support 3D video.

The Internet makes 3D photos and video available for viewing even if you do not have a 3D Monitor or TV.

There are several methods you can use to view 3D.

Update February 2014 – Youtube has undergone recent changes to their viewer’s user interface and the method used to select and view 3D has changed, depending on which browser is in use. I understand this will settle down in March when browser updates catch up to the Youtube changes. Because of that, I will not update this section until all the changes have been completed. The basic concept remains the same but the “3D” icon may no longer appear in your browser. Instead, select the “gear” icon and then select “3D options”.

Additionally, some search inquiries have landed on this page, asking about viewing 3D on smart phones and tablets. Yes, you can watch red/cyan anaglyph videos in 3D on a smart phone, while wearing red/cyan glasses. But there is a big problem with Youtube’s Android and iPhone app – the Youtube app provided by Google/Youtube has no way to select 3D viewing options! Consequently, all Youtube 3D videos play in split screen format on the smart phone – and you cannot select the red/cyan anaglyph format. That’s pretty dumb. That’s also why I am currently posting my 3D videos in both the Youtube universal 3D format but also in a conventional 2D video format (but no dedicated red/cyan format).

Red/Cyan Glasses

The simplest method is to used red/cyan glasses to view stereoscopic 3D “anaglyph”

English: I took this picture myself and had fu...
English: I took this picture myself and had full rights to shoot, and now grant to public use and wikipedia commons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

photos and images. You may already have a pair of red/cyan (blue) glasses lying around, having received a pair with a video game, or bundled in a magazine or book that included 3D still photos. If you do not have 3D glasses, you can purchase glasses from Amazon at very low prices. (Photo at right is from Wikipedia – as is the subtitle – I did not take the photo.)

I especially like the GTMax glasses sold by BlueMall via Amazon and have had good results – I’ve ordered many of these and given many of them away to extended family members:

GTMax 2x Red and Cyan Glasses Fits over Most Prescription Glasses for 3D Movies, Gaming and TV (1x Frameless buttom ; 1x Anaglyph style)

The red/cyan photos are also known as anaglyph photos. Anaglyphs, used for many of the photos on this blog, combine the left and right eye views into a single image by using a red filter and a cyan (blue) filter. When viewed with red/cyan glasses, your brain creates a deep 3D image. Other color choices are also used but red/cyan is the most common.

Limitations: A few people have trouble using the red/cyan glasses. Colored glasses present a darker image than a normal photograph., and the use of colored filters mean that you will not see “true colors” of the original image. Red colors will turn dark.


Youtube directly supports 3D videos with 3D playing options. When viewing a 3D video, you can select 2D or 3D, plus various 3D viewing options.

Depending on your browser, 3D options may appear as a “3D” label in the video player, or you need to click on the “gear” icon used to access settings.

If  you see the 3D control on the viewer, select Turn off 3D to view as a normal 2D video clip. For other viewing options, select “Change Viewing Method”.

You can select different filter colors for different types of glasses, or interleaved or side-by-side viewing for full color 3D monitors. The side-by-side and interleaved modes are compatible with many 3D graphics cards and monitors, and when used, will support true 3D with full color on your 3D monitor.

If the 3D label is missing, click on the gear icon, then turn 3D on or off, and click on “options” to select other 3D viewing options.

 Should you choose red/cyan, magenta/green or blue/yellow glasses?

Red/cyan is the most common anaglyph viewing method and is probably where you should start. Because red/cyan glasses result in red subjects becoming very dark, you lose some important color information. Magenta/green may provide better color reproduction – however, when I first put them on, everything looks pink! After a few moments of watching in magenta/green, however, my brain seems to ignore the pink color and things begin to look normal. I find that with magenta/green glasses, the images are also brighter than those seen with red/cyan.

Regardless, I recommend starting with red/cyan glasses, although some vendors sell a package containing multiple types of glasses.

Cross-Eyed Viewing

Side-by-side mode may also be used for “cross-eyed viewing”. This method requires no glasses but does require practice to learn how to view the side-by-side left/right images in a cross-eyed manner. When successfully done, you’ll see 3 images – with the center image being a merged 3D composite image in between the left and right images.

This method took me some time to master and the first few times  my eyes hurt. However, with practice your eye muscles get stronger and it becomes easier to cross your eyes into this glasses free viewing mode.

Limitations: Takes practice. Some people have a hard time with this method. Some people, even when successful, do not see a lot of 3D depth of the merged image.

The main advantage is that it requires no special glasses and no special equipment.

True 3D Monitor

If you have a true 3D monitor, you may have separate options to convert red/cyan anaglyph images back into true color, true 3D. In addition, when watching Youtube “3D” videos, you can use the 3D control that appears in the lower right of the Youtube viewer to select which type of 3D you wish to use, including support for some 3D monitors.

3D monitor systems generally use “LCD shutter” glasses or “passive” polarized glasses. LCD shutter systems work by rapidly displaying and alternating between the left and right eye images on the screen. The special glasses you must wear will switch rapidly between the the left or right eye so that each eye sees only the image it is supposed to see (left or right).

Projection systems in movie theaters typically use polarized light glasses. The projection system projects the left image using circular polarized light (in one direction) and the right image using circular polarized light (polarized in the opposite direction). The polarized filters in the glasses let the left eye see only the left side image and the right eye see only the right side image. Some 3D computer monitors (including my ASUS monitor) use the passive method.

Glasses Free 3D Viewing

The technology for 3D viewing is advancing rapidly and new systems offer glasses free, full color 3D viewing. These displays are used in some 3D smart phone screens, some 3D camera LCD viewing displays and have been demonstrated in tablet PC screens and full size HDTV screens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guide to 3D VR video and photos