All of these software programs are recommended for teens and adults. At the moment, there’s not much kid-friendly 3D software on the market.
- StereoPhoto Maker: This is the free Windows program I use in workshops to align and manipulate 2D pictures so they can be viewed in 3D.
- Stereoscopic Player: Windows program which can play back nearly any kind of 3D video file.
- Anime Studio Pro: Anime Studio Pro is a powerful animation program that has built-in 3D support. This is the program I used for my videos A Geek Like Me, Smitten, Tornado, and Everything That Grownups Know.
- Blender: A free, ridiculously powerful piece of software for 3D modeling, animation, and game creation. It’s also the most difficult, frustrating piece of software I’ve ever used. The amount of effort required to learn this program is on the level of learning a foreign language. That said, I have met at least one fifth grader who has been able to figure it out. (There are many adults who have not.) If you decide to take the plunge, this book can be a big help. Also, this free college-level video course is highly recommended. Blender supports stereoscopic rendering via this plug-in.
- Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Digital Camera: This isn’t really a piece of software, but it’s one of the most fun 3D still/movie cameras you can buy. The W3 also has an amazing glasses-free 3D screen. This model is now discontinued, but can still be found on Amazon and eBay. This is the perfect tool for both beginning and experienced stereographers — highly recommended!
- Sony Vegas Pro: Whether you create your video footage through Anime Studio, Blender, or from a W3 camera, you’ll want to edit your shots in some way. Not every video editing program allows you to edit 3D footage. I use Sony Vegas Pro, which has excellent 3D support. However, the latest version of the less expensive Sony Vegas Platinum also allows you to import and edit 3D footage.
- Gimpel3D: Despite the claims of some electronics manufacturers and software companies, there is no device or piece of software that will reliably convert 2D movies to 3D with a high level of quality. Gimpel3D is a free software package that does the sort of 2D to 3D conversion used on movies like Titanic and The Wizard of Oz. It’s not an automatic process, though Gimpel3D provides tools to make things easier. Normally, this kind of software costs thousands of dollars to acquire, so if you want to try your hand at converting something into 3D like the big movie studios, this is a great place to start. Note that Gimpel3D crashes when you try to import an image sequence; besides downloading and installing the program on the Gimpel3D site, you will also need to download this patch and overwrite the Gimpel3D.exe file in your “Program Files (x86)” directory to fix the import image sequence bug.