Aiptek 3D i2 - 3D Footage Acquisition Review


Once you’ve shot your footage, you have two main options for viewing it. The i2 has a built-in mini HDMI socket, and a cable is supplied in the box to hook this up to a full-sized HDMI socket on a TV. However, whilst you can send both 2D and 3D signals to any TV, the 3D is sent in ‘side-by-side’ format, so the two video streams, which provide the images for each eye, are squashed horizontally and presented in one frame. The side-by-side format is one of the standards for 3D TV, so currently shipping 3D televisions can display this properly. But a 2D-only TV will merely display the squished frames as recorded.

It’s a shame Aiptek didn’t give the i2 the ability to mix its 3D footage to a format that will display on a 2D TV. So unless you’re lucky (or rich) enough to own a 3D TV already, the other option will be your only one. This is to watch your footage with the help of a PC. The i2 has a built-in USB plug that slides out the bottom. This is a little snug with the device to fit many USB slots, but there’s an extension cable in the box to help out. Once the i2 is hooked up to a PC (and it has to be a Windows PC, as no Mac software is included), the necessary app will install automatically from the device itself, in true pocket Internet camcorder fashion.

The software included is ArcSoft TotalMedia HDCam, which is a little limited in features compared to the app supplied with Flip’s camcorders. Editing capabilities consist of trimming in and out points for a clip, then stringing a series of them together and outputting the results as a single file. Its main function is browsing and displaying your 3D footage, and uploading it to the Web. Aiptek provides a pair of red/cyan glasses in the box, which allow you to watch your footage onscreen in glorious 3D. The Arcsoft app will take the side-by-side footage and mix it to a red/cyan anaglyph in real time. However, TotalMedia HDCam also supports Nvidia’s stereoscopy system, so if you have this set up in your PC you can use it to watch your footage instead.

(centre)”’The Aiptek 3D i2 comes with ArcSoft TotalMedia HDCam software”’(/centre)

The MP4 files the i2 creates can be imported and edited in other apps. So long as you keep the same video format and frame orientation, you should be able to apply filters and trim clips in your favourite video editing software. It’s also possible to convert clips permanently to red/cyan using TotalMedia HDCam.

You can upload files to YouTube and Facebook directly. When you upload to YouTube, there’s no need to convert to red/cyan format. YouTube supports side-by-side 3D video directly. So the file can be interpreted natively. When you see 3D footage on YouTube, an extra button beneath the video lets you choose the 3D presentation mode to fit the glasses you are using to watch it, or you can just watch one side of the frame. Take a look at our sample on YouTube. Facebook, on the other hand, doesn’t support side-by-side 3D so you will need to convert your footage prior to uploading. Other services may require you to do the 3D conversion locally, too.