Start by filming something that’s suitable for a 3D conversion. To see the full benefit of the three-dimensional effect, shoot a short clip with a foreground subject around six to 10 feet in front of the camera and a background of some kind a further 12-15 feet behind the subject. Try to get a good contrast between the foreground and background colours, as with our white snowman and the dark foliage behind him. Pan (move) the camera around the object a little, keeping the camera as steady as possible as you do so – all this will aid the sense of depth in the finished product.
Transferring footage to the PC usually involves either connecting the camera, phone or camcorder via USB, or removing its memory card and inserting it into the computer. In both cases, an Autoplay dialogue box should appear. Click the ‘Open folder to view files’ option, then navigate to the folder that contains the video file. If this dialogue box doesn’t appear, launch Windows Explorer to look for the device. Either way, the folder that contains recorded video files is often labelled ‘DCIM’; the files themselves may have a MOV, MTS or MP4 file extension. Drag and drop the video file to the Windows Desktop. It’s also possible to transfer footage from a tape-based camcorder – click here for help with this.
Launch a web browser and go to the Youtube website. To upload and convert videos to 3D, a Youtube account is required. If you already have one, click the Sign In link at the top of the page, type in your username and password, then click the Sign In button. If you don’t have a Youtube account, click the Create Account link at the top of the page then follow the on-screen instructions, filling out all the details needed to complete the process.
Click the Upload link at the top of the screen, then click the big button labelled ‘Select files from your computer’. Use the Windows Explorer window that appears to browse to the Windows Desktop and locate the video file transferred to the PC’s hard disk in Step 2. Click to highlight the video file, then click Open. Depending on the size of the file and the speed of your broadband connection, it might take a while for the clip to be transferred to Youtube.
While you’re waiting, type in a name for the video and a short description into the boxes provided. Youtube will suggest some tags, depending on what you add here; click the ones that are most suitable for the video. Select an appropriate category from the dropdown menu on the right. Also on this page are some privacy options. To allow anyone to search for and view the video, select Public. Choose Private if you want only specific people, such as friends and family, to be able to view the clip.
Once Youtube has finished uploading and processing the video file, a link will be provided. Click this and watch the video to make sure it has transferred correctly. It will still be in 2D at this point. Now click the Edit Info button just above the preview screen and click where it says ‘3D Video’ in the row of buttons that appears towards the top of the screen. Click to select the ‘Please make this video 3D’ radio button and click Save Changes.
Now it’s time for another wait. At the top of the screen you will see a green bar containing a message that reads ‘3D conversion in progress and may take a while. Please check back later’. In our experience it can take at least half an hour but possibly longer for the conversion process to complete, depending on the length of the original clip.
It will be obvious when the conversion is ready; next time you visit the Youtube page for the clip, there should be a new ‘3D’ icon on the toolbar underneath the image. If there isn’t, try again later. If you still can’t see the 3D icon after several hours, try signing out, restarting the web browser and signing back in again. Once the 3D icon is visible, hover the mouse cursor over it – a message should appear saying ‘Converted from 2D’.
Click the 3D icon and the video will start playing in 3D (though without glasses, it will look fuzzy and a bit odd). The default 3D viewing mode is red/cyan – also known as anaglyphic 3D – which requires a pair of red/cyan 3D glasses. These are very cheap and can be ordered for about £2 from Amazon, for example. Glasses on, the colours may look strange and 3D effect from converted 2D videos will rarely be as impressive as footage shot on true 3D cameras, but the foreground object in the clip should appear ‘nearer’ than the background.
There more 3D-viewing options to experiment with. Click the 3D icon and choose the ‘Swap (left/right)’ option from the pop-up menu – this can sometimes improve the 3D effect. Also in this menu are some colour options that are worth playing with. Alternatively, click the Other options link at the bottom of the menu and try some of the other 3D-viewing methods, including some glasses-free ones (where you’ll have to try to go cross-eyed in order to view the effect). Find out more about these by clicking here. We also recommend switching to full-screen mode (click the square button on the right under the image), as this can also dramatically enhance the effect.