[Chimera-users] 3D viewing?

Greg Couch gregc at cgl.ucsf.edu
Wed Sep 15 14:58:18 PDT 2004

On Tue, 14 Sep 2004, Steven J Kolodziej wrote:

> I was wondering if Chimera had an option for viewing files in 3D from
> a PC using glasses and if so what hardware is needed.

Chimera does support hardware stereo viewing when given the --stereo 
option in the Windows shortcut target field (or the command line).  You 
will need a graphics card that is capable of drawing stereo in a window, a 
monitor that can display at higher refresh rates (120Hz preferred, 85Hz 
minimum), and stereo glasses.  There exist stereo monitors that don't need 

While some consumer graphic cards have stereo support, they only support 
fullscreen stereo, so you will need a workstation-class graphics card. 
Those cards include the 3DLabs Wildcat cards, the NVidia Quadro cards, and 
the ATI FireGL cards -- the workstation models.  Be sure to double check 
that card specifications say that it supports stereo (may be listed as 
quad-buffered stereo) and has a 3-pin sync connector because the low-end 
workstation graphics typically do not support stereo (and a couple of the 
high-end ones!).  After you install your stereo graphics card, you will 
need to configure the driver (on Windows, in Display Properties/ Settings/ 
Advanced/ ?) to support stereo.  See 
<http://www.stereographics.com/support/boards/brd-chrt.htm> for a fairly 
current list of stereo-capable graphics cards.

For a monitor, the traditional choice has been to get the largest quality 
multisync CRT you can afford.  LCD flat panels are currently a poor choice 
because the individual pixels can not change colors fast enough for stereo 
viewing.  LCD panels are improving, so there might be one that would work 
now.  Be sure to test your monitor before buying it.  See 
<http://www.stereographics.com/support/st-mon.htm> for suggested monitors 
and more information.

And do check out the monitors that have builtin stereo support, not 
wearing glasses is a huge advantage.  The disadvantages have been lower 
image quality, poor 2d and 3d image coexistence, and/or high cost.

For stereo glasses, we use the CrystalEyes product from StereoGraphics, 
Other glasses will work, but we do not have any experience with them. 
For instance, the VRex shutter glasses look like they would work, 
<http://www.vrex.com/products/sg_vrv.shtml>.  They have a lower dynamic 
range than the CrystalEyes product, but they weigh less (no batteries) and 
cost significantly less.

As a general note, people vary in how quickly their eyes get tired when 
looking at stereo images -- when you are modeling, you might want/need to 
spend 8 hours a day in stereo.  Part of your equipment evaluation should 
include using the stereo for a long period of time.

 	Good luck,

 	Greg Couch
 	gregc at cgl.ucsf.edu

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