No joke, YouTube videos now available in 3D

April 6, 2012 8:58:50 PM PDT
If you ever thought that video of your cat would be infinitely cuter in 3D, you're in luck. YouTube has unveiled a feature that lets you convert your flat videos into a whole new dimension.

CNET's editor-at-large, Rafe Needleman, can hardly believe his eyes.

"I first thought this whole thing was an April Fool's joke," he said.

But there's no joking about YouTube's latest feature that turns your two-dimensional movies into 3D, completely automatically.

"It's surprisingly convincing considering that they weren't created in 3D," Needleman said.

YouTube says the process is similar to what's being done with the 3D conversions of Hollywood blockbusters like "Titanic" and "Star Wars," with one major difference.

"Those have humans spending countless hours trying to make sure that everything is correct," YouTube engineer Sam Kvaalen said. "Whereas for us, it's completely automatic and much quicker."

Kvaalen says it usually only takes a few minutes to convert a short video once it's uploaded. Handled by Google's computing cloud, it takes a lot of power, but...

"Google tends to have a very green energy policy, and the whole thing is run by unicorns on treadmills," Kvaalen joked.

OK, maybe that part's a joke. But the 3D effect is pretty serious stuff.

The question is, who's watching it?

"It does seem to me a little bit more of an experiment than a real world issue right now," Needleman said. "I don't see people sitting down and putting on glasses of any kind just so they can view content."

But Needleman suggests maybe YouTube is ahead of its time.

"Converting flat videos to 3D videos will really pay off and they'll be way ahead of the curve when the technology catches up to them," he said.

YouTube says that soon you will be able to watch those converted movies on the big screen 3D television in your living room. For now, you can watch them in your web browser using cardboard specs, which you can order online, or find one of the do-it-yourself videos on YouTube and learn how to make your own.


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