Virtual Desktop and watching 2D Videos in 3D

Virtual Desktop and watching 2D Videos in 3D
Avatar 2D Trailer Converted to 3D in Virtual Desktop

My original work on this topic centred on a mod to Universal Media Server (UMS) to support on-the-fly conversion of 2D Video to 3D with Sky Box VR Player and later various other media players. This article shows how to do this with Virtual Desktop.

The approach with Virtual Desktop is different to that for other clients, in that Virtual Desktop does not support DLNA/UPNP and so cannot talk directly to UMS. However, VLC Media Player does support DLNA/UPNP. Using VLC in conjunction with Virtual Desktop provides the solution. The key is the View/Playlist menu in VLC Media Player for Desktop.

The approach is to connect VLC Media Player to UMS and then play the 2D to 3D converted video in VLC, whilst viewing it through Virtual Desktop. This is possible as there are options to enable both 3D SBS (recommended) and 3D TB viewing in Virtual Desktop, both of which do a really great job of displaying VLC's SBS or TB output (generated by UMS) in glorious 3D.

See video for a demonstration:

This 2D to 3D enhancement is available in Release 13 of UMS or higher. I have prepared a full installation and configuration guide here.

This Virtual Desktop with VLC solution is recommended as being the most likely to deliver the highest quality output, with the fullest set of functionality for the reasons below:

  • Virtual Desktop with VLC supports chapters, so you can choose the point at which you wish to start watching the video in 3D and so return to where you left off. See example screen shot below, showing chapter links at 10 minute intervals:

Image Description

  • UMS adjusts the bit rate of the video based on the performance of the renderer client over the network. If the renderer client is VLC and UMS is running on the same high performance machine (which would be the standard case), then this rate will be very high (as there is no network in between VLC and UMS) and so this rate is maximised.
  • The software/CPU based libx264 encoder (the default) is able to deliver a very high quality output when a high bit rate is available.
  • Virtual Desktop has limited 3D output format support, but importantly the high resolution 3D Full Side-by-Side (SBS) format is supported. Virtual Desktop can support mirroring a desktop at up to at least 3840x2160. This would be sufficient to render a 1920x1080 video for both the left and right eye at full resolution. VD mirrors your desktop in the headset. Full SBS mode is the 3D output format that should be selected in the UMS 2D to 3D settings for Virtual Desk top. Note, this is NOT the default. The default is Half Top/Bottom. You should change this default to Full SBS (the first in the 3D Output Format list) if you are using Virtual Desktop with VLC.
  • Virtual Desktop is very highly optimised at being able to deliver the desktop screen content to the VR headset at high frame rates (up to 120 FPS for the Quest 2 for example). One of its main use cases is to support gaming. This optimisation is much more efficient than sending the compressed 3D video over the network, as would be the case for the DLNA media clients on the network, which then need to decompress ┬áthe video before it can be displayed.

Note also that the "VLC-for-desktop" renderer configuration file requires a minor addition to enable 2D to 3D support. To do this, go to the folder:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Universal Media Server\renderers

Open the file below in notepad:


Add this line to the end of the file:

AviSynth2Dto3D = true

A slight complication is that the "renderers" folder is write protected, so you will have to save the updated .conf file to another folder first before copying it back to the original location (windows will prompt you for permission to copy and overwrite the original file when you cut and paste the file). Remember also to restart UMS for the change to take effect.