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Edit 3D Video With a Mac

3D editing with a Mac

The first question to ask is what format your camcorder shoots in. If your camera shoots side-by-side there are several software options (some of which you likely already own) that you can edit 3D with. That is as long as you are aware of the limitations outlined below. If your camcorder shoots in Full HD 3D (note some such cameras can also output in side-by-side format) or you want a full featured 3D editing tool skip ahead to ‘Advanced 3D Editing Options’.

Bare-bones 3D Editing

You can edit 3D footage with just about any software that you can edit 2D footage with if you are willing to put up with several quirks and limitations. First the limitations then the instructions.

  • You must view the image in side-by-side mode while you edit. For example, your footage will look something like the example below. Get used to seeing double!


    Your edit window will look like something like this.

  • You won’t be able to see the 3D effect until you are finished and the footage is converted. (More on that shortly.)

If you are comfortable with the above, the process is simple:

  1. Import and then edit the side-by-side material just as you would with regular 2D material in iMovie or your preferred editing software.
  2. Export it just as you would export a regular 2D movie.
  3. Upload the file to YouTube and set it as a 3D movie (go to the Video Information page and select ‘Edit Info’).YouTube-3D-Edit
  4. Choose the correct layout that matches your video – make sure it looks okay before you save the changes.
  5. YouTube will allow viewers to watch it in several different 3D formats ranging from cross-eyed to anaglyph glasses. However, you will not be able to download the converted file.

The above method is a good way of dipping your toe in the water. But if you want to display your edited movies beyond YouTube you will either have to convert your files to anaglyph or use one of the options below.

Advanced 3D Editing Options

Final Cut Pro/Final Cut Express/After Effects (Mac)

Neither Final Cut nor After Effects offer native 3D support at this time, but there is an easy-to-use, reasonably priced plug-in available to help you get the job done. This is my primary tool for editing 3D. It’s called Stereo 3D Toolbox LE by Dashwood Cinema Solutions. It works with side-by-side format or full HD 3D. It doesn’t work with footage that is already merged into one 3D file such as the anaglyph format (but it does convert footage to anaglyph). This software allows you to:

  • Upload directly to YouTube
  • Adjust convergence
  • Output to anaglyph
  • Output a 2D version if desired
  • Accept side-by-side, Full HD 3D and interlaced 3D

Note that there are two version, the full Stereo 3D Toolbox is $1499, Stereo 3D Toolbox LE is a good economical choice. It sells for about $99.00. You can learn more about Stereo 3D Toolbox here. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Below is the main plug-in screen for Stereo 3D Toolbox. Note that the options make it seem more complicated than it is. Once you select your source format and output mode the rest takes care of itself (except in rare circumstances or if you are tweaking your footage). There is a trial available of both versions, so check them out.


Stereo 3D ToolBox Plug-in Screen

Revolver HD (Mac) 

Revolver offers basic editing and output for footage shot in the side-by-side format with the Panasonic HDC-SDT750. At this time it doesn’t offer support for Full HD 3D camcorders such as the Sony HDR TD10 or the JVC GS-TD1 although it may in the future. Revolver allows you to trim 3D using the left eye image. You won’t be able to see the 3D effect until you actually output the file. You can learn more about this software here. Note that Revolver HD (at least for the time being) is not a full featured editing package. It allows you to output 3D video onto a DVD, BluRay disc or USB thumb drive to plug into your PS3, 3DTV etc. There is a trial version available.


Revolver HD has a very basic interface

Alternate 3D Editing Software options:

Cineform neo3D/neoHD ($999) (Mac/PC)

Neo creates high-end software in two version, neo3D and neoHD. Most readers will want to consider the neoHD package, not neo3D. Neo3D is meant for users who create 3D material using two synchronized cameras (i.e. two 2D cameras recording separately). NeoHD is mean for users shooting with single bodied, dual lens 3D camcorders such as the Sony HDR10, etc.

Neo works differently from the other software above. The footage is converted first before you edit. This extra step can be time consuming depending on how fast your computer can render the material. Neo3D creates CineForm 3D Quicktime or AVI files that contain both left and right eye images within one file. It is compatible with editing software such as Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro which use a plug-in to directly read the  CineForm 3D media. It works with an impressively wide array of cameras and formats.

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