Youtube’s Universal 3D Video Player has Vanished

All my tech decided to fail at once – you can read about that here – which is why this blog has been offline much of today and not updated much recently.

Separately, Youtube’s universal 3D video player disappeared last night. Previously, the 3D player did not work in Chrome but was usable in FireFox, IE and Opera.

As reported on the 3D TV Yahoo Group the 3D video player has vanished from Youtube.

The Youtube video uploader still has options for selecting 3D video options during upload. Does that mean the 3D video player is coming back? No one knows.

We can only make some guesses – presumably the 3D video player relied on the Adobe Flash Player, which nearly everyone hates and is trying to eliminate. HTML5 supposedly provides some new support – Chrome tries to use HTML5 for the player that always ends up with an error on 3D videos.


USFS charges high fees for pressing red video button on your camera

Here is a link to the actual US Forest Service “Interim Directive” (ID). The USFS is proposing that this ID be made permanent. Please read the actual text for yourself:

In summary, it says that:

  • you do not need a permit for any still photography including commercial still photography as long as you do not use actors, models and props, or locations normally unavailable to the public. If you use actors, models or props or need special access, you must apply to the USFS for a permit describing your content. Your proposed content must be approved by a USFS censor to ensure that it meets the specific objectives of the agency (see the ID, above).
  • you do not need a permit for recreational photography or video
  • you are required to have a permit for any motion picture, video recording or audio recording … if it is used to generate an income regardless of whether you have actors, models or props involved. If you post your video clip on Youtube with an ad, you need a permit. Stated another way, pressing the red button on your camera will cost you a bundle.

Still photographers can press the silver button, take still photos and sell them.

However, if they press the red button on the exact same camera, while standing at the exact same location, and post that video on Youtube with an ad running alongside the video, then you are required to obtain a permit, your permit must be approved by a USFS censor, and may be required to have liability insurance and to pay for a USFS ranger to monitor your activities while you press the red button.

The media got excited about this ID when they noticed the USFS has been enforcing part of the rule that says the news media is exempt only for “breaking news”. All other media use would require a permit and approval of the USFS censors. In actual fact, twice in the past month, a local public broadcasting TV show in Idaho was told by the USFS they must have a permit. In one case, they wanted to film students digging for garnets on USFS land (not wilderness land).

Yesterday, the head of the USFS backpedaled and says they never intended this to apply to the news media. That is not true. The Oregonian newspaper, 3 days ago, specifically asked a USFS official for permission to take photos in the Mt Hood Wilderness and was told they needed a permit. The next day, they drove up to Mt Hood, and without permits, took photos and posted them in their newspaper. A day later, the USFS backed off.

However, the rules still remain as I have summarized. The USFS is attempting to select the means of expression (still versus film, video or audio recording), and to approve the content of the latter 3. In the US we have the First Amendment, which is as close to a sacred document as we come here. This Amendment prohibits the government from controlling our speech or our desired method of expression. Citizens and the media are both protected. A professor of communications (journalism) is quoted in an area newspaper as saying he is astonished that this obviously unconstitutional issue was not recognized by the USFS staff when putting this rule together.

In the end, there are 3 main issues:
1. The USFS is selecting the means of expression (still photography given favorable treatment versus everything else)
2. The USFS defines “commercial filming” overly broadly and absurdly. The guy with his tripod, huge camera and 2 foot long lens taking still photos and selling them does not need a permit. The lady next to him shooting video with an iPhone that she posts on Youtube with an ad alongside, must apply for a permit and be approved by the USFS censors. This is utter nonsense.
3. First Amendment issues galore. The USFS is not only controlling the means of expression, but also states (states in plain language in the ID – this is not some wild assertion) that the content must meet their content requirements and be approved by the USFS (literally a censor, which is why I use that term).

The rule should be written to focus on the impact on the land and the USFS resources – and not be focused on the means of expression or the content.

Because the USFS has backed off the media requirements, the media may fade away from this issue. And because they exclude most still photography, I’ve seen still photographers posting on social media that this is just an old rule, nothing to worry about. Because it does not impact them.

Big production companies know they need permits and plan for it.

That leaves individuals that wanted to press the red button under threat as most do not have the legal resources to fight this absurd rule to the Supreme Court. Literally, press the silver button and drive to the bank; press the red button and pay a fine. Or use an iPhone. It’s absurd.

Some are now posting on social media and blogs that this is all blown out of proportion, etc, etc. Apparently none of them have read the actual text of the Interim Directive. Some are partially correct in that it mostly does not apply to still photographers – but it very much applies to individuals pressing the red button on their camera. This is not a time to tell people to ignore this and claim there is nothing to see here. This remains a very big deal.

This is our government and our public lands; this is not their private kingdom.

I encourage all still and video photographers, including hobbyists, to read the full Interim Directive above and then to file comments at this web site:

To further clarify their “means of expression” control, consider a different example. Suppose a poet sat in a meadow writing poetry (for later resale). This would be considered acceptable and no permit would be required. Now consider a person sitting next to the poet, but composing music (for later resale). The USFS makes poetry permit free but requires a permit and liability insurance for the composer. Makes no sense does it? But that is what the USFS is doing.

Rose City Comic Con 2014

I attended the Rose City Comic Con on Saturday (on Sunday I was at the Oregon International Air Show). I am posting photos from the Rose City Comic Con on my Flickr page and will also be adding 3D photos there soon, as well as on the Phereo 3D photo sharing web site (which as a “universal” 3D viewer).

Nearly all my photos are taken with permission of the subjects. There are a few exceptions, either noted on the Flickr photo information, or where “group” photos were being taken at the Rose City Comic Con backdrop (even there I tried to ask). All my photos are distributed under a Creative Commons 4.0 license, meaning they are free to download and use for personal use and sharing with friends and family. Commercial or media use of any photos is not permitted as none of the subjects have given permission for that!

Rose City Comic Con, Portland, OR 2014

Rose City Comic Con 2014


Rose City Comic Con 2014

Rose City Comic Con, Portland, OR 2014

You can now attach your iPad directly to your face

These virtual reality device news stories featuring VR helmets and head mounted facial covering displays are promoted by the people who said that 3D is dead because consumers do not like wearing “3D goggles” (I am not making that up): You can now attach your iPad directly to your face to experience virtual reality | The Verge.

Look at the sample photos – try not to laugh – and realize that those who thought passive, lightweight 3D glasses were too much now think this stuff makes sense.


48 hour sale! App Inventor 2 Tutorial e-book just 99 cents

Special Promotional Price – 48 hours only!

From 8 am on September 8th until 8 am on September 10th (all times Pacific Daylight Time – or starting at 1300 UTC on Sep 8th), get the App Inventor 2 Tutorial for just 99 cents!

Sale starts at 8 am (PST) or 1300 (UTC time zone) on September 8th – 48 hours only.

MIT App Inventor 2 is the fast and easy way to create custom Android apps for smart phones or tablets. This guide introduces the basic App Inventor features – you can likely create your first simple app in about an hour, and understand the basic components of App Inventor in a full day. App Inventor 2 is free to use and you can use it for commercial applications too.

Available at Amazon.

Also check out the on-going updates, tips and tutorials posted the book’s blog at

48 hour sale-App Inventor 2 Tutorial just 99 centers

Special Promotional Price – 48 hours only!

From 8 am on September 8th until 8 am on September 10th (all times Pacific Daylight Time – or starting at 1300 UTC on Sep 8th), get the App Inventor 2 Tutorial for just 99 cents!

Sale starts at 8 am (PST) or 1300 (UTC time zone) on September 8th – 48 hours only.

MIT App Inventor 2 is the fast and easy way to create custom Android apps for smart phones or tablets. This guide introduces the basic App Inventor features – you can likely create your first simple app in about an hour, and understand the basic components of App Inventor in a full day. App Inventor 2 is free to use and you can use it for commercial applications too.

Available at Amazon.

Which 3D cameras to use?

You can shoot 3D using one camera, paired cameras or by using specially built 3D integrated cameras. This section is a brief summary of the concepts – the details of the different camera scenarios are described in the Guide to 3D Still Photography, at right.


The most complete solution for processing your 3D photos is StereoPhoto Maker, created by Matsuji Sudo, and available for free download. How to use this software is also described in Guide to 3D Still Photography.

Another option is to use the PhereoShop program available at (free and paid versions available). Phereo is a web site that hosts 3D still photos for sharing online (much like Flickr does for 2D still photos). Phereo is unique in that uploaded 3D photos can be viewed in multiple ways depending on the needs of the viewer. That means they can be viewed using colored filter glasses (e.g. red/cyan glasses), viewed on a full color 3D monitor, or viewed using some “no glasses needed” methods including cross-eyed format or the “wiggle” method.

One Camera

For shooting 3D still photos – of still subjects – you can experiment with 3D by taking a photo and then moving your camera a slight amount left or right to take a 2nd photo. The two photos can then be combined into a single stereo photo using StereoPhoto Maker software (free download but it runs only in Windows – but see note below).

When sliding the camera left or right, keep track of which photo is going to be the “left” and which is going to be the “right”. This will make processing simpler.

The distance the camera is moved between shots is known as the interaxial distance. For example, human eyes are spaced about 2 1/2 inches apart (65 cm). When shooting 3D, we may choose to space the left and right shots either less or more than this, depending on the nature of the scene.  Very close subjects may look best with very small movements – 1/2 inch (1 cm) or even less. Distant objects, such as mountains, may look best with the lens separation measured in feet (or meters). You can experiment and develop a feel for the relative lens spacing, although smartphone calculators to help select an optimal setting are available. Please consult Guide to 3D Still Photography for more information.

Two Cameras

By mounting two identical cameras on a rail (as simple as a piece of flat wood with holes drilled for 1/4-20 bolts to screw into the cameras’ tripod mounts), you can set up dual cameras for 3D. For relatively static subjects, you can use your fingers to trip the shutter buttons on both cameras are nearly the same time. This method can work well except for faster moving subjects – if the cameras are not synchronized, the fast moving subject will appear in slightly different locations in the left and right images.

An alternatives, besides using an integrated 3D camera, is to use pairs of certain Canon cameras (lower end models, mostly, like the Powershot line) combined with a special version of CHDK called StereoData Maker (or SDM). Using a modified USB cable, SDM software enables synchronization of two Canon cameras. (Note – CHDK is a “hack” for Canon cameras. I have installed it on one Canon camera and it works great. SDM is a modified version of CHDK – you only need install SDM, not both CHDK and SDM.)

SDM works mostly with older Canon cameras; some are still available new but many are available at fantastic prices on the used market.

Integrated 3D Cameras

Until very recently, some excellent all-in-one 3D cameras were made by Fujifilm and Panasonic, respectively. The Fujifilm W1 and its successor the W3, and the Panasonic Lumix 3D1. Unfortunately, the entire camera market has been seeing tough times as smart phones gradually replace the low end compact camera market. Camera makers have responded by eliminating product lines that were selling in lower quantities, and that meant that both Fujifilm and Panasonic have discontinued their integrated 3D still cameras.

At the time of this writing, a year after the products were discontinued, you can still find many new and used cameras on EBay, Amazon and even on Craigslist.

There are also some integrated 3D video cameras, but at the consumer level, many of these have also been discontinued for the same reason.

Using StereoPhoto Maker on Mac OS X

StereoPhoto Maker is a Windows application. It can be run on Mac OS X systems using any of the following methods (instructions not provided here though):

  1. Use the Mac OS X software “Wineskin Winery” to wrap the Windows executable file with the WINdows Emulator (WINE). The resulting file encapsulates the Windows .exe program file inside a Windows “emulator” (think “simulator” if you prefer) that enables some Windows programs to run directly on Mac OS X (really). I have StereoPhoto Maker running as a WINE-enabled app on my Macbook.
  2. Use Parallels or VMWare to create a “virtual machine” on Mac OS X and load a licensed copy of Windows into the virtual machine. This works well.
  3. Use Apple Boot Camp to create a dual boot Mac system that enables starting the Mac in OS X or in Windows, and then run StereoPhoto Maker in Windows.

You are on your own if you choose this approach, especially with Wineskin Winery. I had to dig around a bit to get SPM running in Winery but it was not too bad at all.