Stereoscopic OpenGL in any application on any 3D Glasses

By ToxicX



1. Quick overview
2. Main usage
3. The facts
4. Compatibility
5. Images
6. Conclusion
7. Related links
8. Additional notes, updated 2001-01-28

1. Quick overview
Scitech GLDirect 2.0 is a wrapper that turns OpenGL into Direct3D and supports all 3D Glasses via the proper OpenGL stereo commands and also makes any OpenGL application or game run in stereo mode via a new stereo driver. Somewhat slow, but give it a try, free full version for 3 weeks can be downloaded here.

2. Main usage
The main purpose of the GLDirect is running OpenGL applications in Direct3D since so many 3D cards seem to have bad OpenGL support. There is a version optimized for all games running on the Quake engines, but the “CAD version” supports full OpenGL and can run anything via Direct3D at a cost of performance. This review focuses on the new support for 3D Glasses, but if it runs in real 3D, it definately runs in flat 2D.

3. The facts
The latest version of the OpenGL -> Direct3D wrapper, GLDirect, has included some great features for any users of 3D Glasses. Since it’s a OpenGL wrapper, you would expect support for the proper stereoscopic commands in OpenGL and that’s what you get. Now all professional applications with stereo support can be run, no matter how bad your own OpenGL driver is. This feature is something that all 3D cards are missing, even NVIDIA who takes pride in their “full” OpenGL implementation doesn’t have the stereoscopic part, even on some of their professional ($1000) Quadro series of graphics cards.
The best part is the full hardware support for all 3D Glasses in GLDirect, ranging from the 3DRevelator, HMDs to red/blue glasses and everything else in between (yes, your “insert your 3D Glasses name here” works too). Check the hardware compatibility list below.
If this wasn’t enough, SciTech has also included their own stereo driver for applications that don’t have support for 3D Glasses, meaning that any OpenGL application can be run in real 3D. Check further down for a few programs that have been tested and if you have any applications that you were able to run, email or the Forum so that we can update the list.
The stereoscopic drivers work both in full screen and windowed format and GLDirect has support for most monitors on the market so that the refresh rate will be automatically maximized, beyond the factory standard settings. Just make sure to test the setup first in the seetting tab where you choose the 3D Glasses and monitor, since there is a small chance of ending up with a black screen.
The latest version of GLDirect is currently 2.0 beta 30 and is somewhat unstable, so make sure that you have all your vital files backed up somewhere else, and have a backup of Windows too. I had some nasty crashes after experimenting heavily with the settings and all kinds of OpenGL applications, demos and games, so take it easy and be prepared for random lockups.
Finally, the downside to GLDirect, since it’s a wrapper, it’s slow, the conversion from OpenGL to Direct3D takes a lot of processing power and the stereoscopic drivers take some more. Intensive applications like Quake need some tweaking to be fast enough, but it works. Free evaluation for 21 days, then you have to buy GLDirect.
Get the latest beta from the FTP server at SciTech!
The homepage of GLDirect, but the info is only about the older versions without stereoscopic support.
The homepage of SciTech and all their other products.

4. Compatibility
If you have tested any applications or games that work with the GLDirect, use email or the Forum to tell us. The following applications have been run in Windows98 on a Asus GeForce with the 5.33 driver.

Application Comments Stereo driver* and setup
Basic Stereo OpenGL tests Simple tests to verify the OpenGL stereo commands, more info can be found on Michal Husak’s page. ACS
3Space Assistant 3.0 3D model viewer with stereo OpenGL support, works perfectly. ACS, raw OpenGL
Quake 3
Quake 3: Team Arena
Works perfectly, some flickering in the menu, needs tweaking to compensate of the performance loss. ACS, seta r_stereo “1” in the q3config.cfg
Sudden Depth 2.1 demo Stereo image viewer with OpenGL support, works perfectly. ACS

*ACS=Application Controlled stereo, meaning the the applications own support for 3D Glasses via OpenGL is used.
*DCS=Driver Controlled stereo, Scitech forces the application to run in stereo, no stereo support built in from the beginning.

Supported hardware
SciTech GLDirect should supports any graphics card with properly functioning Microsoft Direct3D drivers (DirectX 6.0 and later). This is the list from their site, only the chipsets are mentioned since there are hundreds of cards based on these chips:

3Dfx Voodoo, Voodoo Rush, Voodoo 2, Banshee
3DLabs Permedia, Permedia 2, Permedia 2V
ATI 3D Rage IIC, 3D Rage Pro, 3D Rage LT Pro, Rage Mobility . ATI Rage XL, Rage 128, Rage 128 Pro
Cirrus Logic CL-GD5462, 5464, 5465 Laguna VisualMedia
Intel i740
Matrox MGA Millennium II, Mystique, Mystique 220, MGA-G100, MGA-G200, MGA-G400, MGA-G450
Number Nine Ticket 2 Ride, Ticket 2 Ride IV
NVIDIA RIVA-TNT, RIVA-TNT2, RIVA-TNT2 M64, RIVA-TNT2 Vanta, RIVA-TNT2 Ultra, GeForce 256, GeForce DDR .
Rendition Rendition Vérite V1000, V2100, V2200
S3 Virge/GX2, Savage series

5. Images

Supported hardware:

Hardware types:

Custom hardware modes:

Stereo setup:

Click on image for a bigger version.
Stereo configuration:

Click on image for a bigger version.

6. Conclusion
A must have since most 3D card manufacturers that should offer this functionality just couldn’t care less. OpenGL seems to be a low priority and no one ever thought of supporting 3D glasses on any board for less than US$1000. Now everyone can have the benefit of running professional applications with cheap hardware and even run any OpenGL game in stereo. There is a performance hit and the price of US$18 might be a bit high since we are paying for the incompetence of the 3D card manufacturers, so make sure to try out the fully functional trial version first. A must have for those that use OpenGL frequently and own any 3D Glasses!
(Currently a beta version still in development, with some stability issues)

7. Related links – All about OpenGL, from programming to all the software that runs in OpenGL, daily news.
DemoNews – Get the latest demos, game demos, screensaver from here, lots of stuff in OpenGL.
Tranzmit – Huge archive of 3D demos from “the scene”, some better looking than most games, lots of stuff in OpenGL.
Michal Husak’s page – Info about stereoscopic OpenGL programming and some sample applications.
Stereographics – A list of professional OpenGL applications with built in stereoscopic support.

8. Additional notes, updated 2001-01-28

  • Another special version of GLDirect can be downloaded from Stereographics, no timelimit, but works only with 3D glasses without color code activation + blue line code, thanx to Michal Husak for the tip.
  • Doesn’t work at all with Windows2000, a message saying that it’s a Win2K problem and that Microsoft have been notified, pops up during the installation, maybe future versions will have Win2K support.
  • GeForce2 owners have reported that GLDirect stereo mode doesn’t work for them at all. Scitech says it will be supported in an upcoming version.
  • SciTech has a support page (BBS/Forum thing) up for this beta version and they answer most problems within a day.