Archive for the ‘Stereoscopic’ Category

AVATAR AS THE JAZZ SINGER

June 19, 2010

The popular myth of the coming of the sound cinema is that The Jazz Singer was the decisive film.  It may have been an important moment, but if you read The Speed of Sound by Scott Eyman you will see that the story is more nuanced.  Today we have a candidate for the 3-D Jazz SingerAvatar.  (more…)

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RECLAIMING 3-D

June 19, 2010

In 1980 or thereabouts, a change occurred to computer graphics technology.  It was an important one for me personally and for my company StereoGraphics because it allowed us to create stereoscopic displays based on raster graphics so useful for industry and science. Prior to that time high-end applications for computers outputted images that looked like wire frames or line drawings.  These were variously known as calligraphic, stroke or vector displays.  I remember playing an arcade game in 1981.  It was called “Tank Command,” and cast and crew on the set of Rottweiler Dogs of Hell at EO Studios in Shelby South Carolina got quite involved with it.  Between takes we played “Tank Command,” with its eerie green lines against a stygian background.  The farther away the object was, the dimmer were the lines – that was how depth was conveyed – that and perspective and relative size.   These displays had an electron beam that was steered to write lines on the inside of a green phosphored cathode ray tube and it built up an image that perceptually added up to one that didn’t flicker and appeared to be integral even though portions of it were written at different times.   (more…)

THE FUTURE OF PROJECTION

May 12, 2010

The future of the motion picture industry will be determined by the popularity of stereoscopic films.  This monstrous Caliban, ridiculed for decades, has been rehabilitated and taken to the bosom of the industry for the best of reasons; in the last few years a giant share of profit from motion pictures released in theaters has come from 3-D movies.  Although revenue is rising attendance is flat, and the additional revenue is attributable to stereoscopic movies.  This is good news for the studios, because DVD sales are plummeting and this makes up for that loss of revenue.  And it may well be that sales of 3-D Blu-ray disks are going to be a source of additional revenue.  So hooray for 3-D. (more…)

CLASH OF THE 3-D MOVIES

April 27, 2010

Five years ago when Disney decided to release Chicken Little in 3-D, they had to be thinking about a couple of things:  One, as a tactic, taking a movie like Chicken Little and releasing it in 3-D might be a good marketing approach.  It gave the studio something to talk about, and 3-D might create buzz.  Two, strategically, it was a way for the studio to further the cause of digital projection.  The studio hoped to accomplish two things:  Anti-piracy might be better enabled with digital; and digital distribution could reduce print cost.   (more…)

THE BIG BRIGHT 3-D SCREEN

April 14, 2010

A third of theatrical release revenues since the opening of Avatar in December have come from a handful of 3-D films and when you consider that 125 features have been released in the same timeframe I’d say it’s all over but the shouting for 2-D. Call me bullish but the same pattern emerged when sound was introduced. Given that as background let us consider that the biggest source of revenue comes from the largest theaters with the biggest screens. So let’s consider the subject of the biggest 3-D screens.  (more…)

Converted to Conversion, 2

April 7, 2010

As a result of my experience with Paramount and Star Trek I became friendly with people at one of the conversion houses, In-Three, located in Thousand Oaks.  In-Three had recently undergone a change in management, and because I thought they had a lot of promise I went out and met with them and did a couple of training sessions.  Their technique was almost purely mathematical and I thought that what they needed to do was shift more toward the subjective and the aesthetic, rather than the analytical.  After all, the composition of stereoscopic images is ultimately judged by human beings, and various ratios, distances, and parallax values have a less than one to one correlation with perception.  The final arbiter of a 3-D image is a human being, and it is better to train somebody to have a well-developed aesthetic sense than to fuss around with a lot of equations.  In-Three did came up to world-class standards, but mostly because of the change in personnel and their reorganization and not through my minimal efforts. (more…)

Converted to Conversion, I

April 5, 2010

The idea of taking a two-dimensional image and turning it into a stereoscopic image is not a new one.  The idea of being able to pull this off for a motion picture sounds like a fantasy.  There are two extant techniques – conversion on-the-fly and conversion I supposed one would classify as off-line, requiring some considerable effort.  I am not going to consider on-the-fly technology because the state of the art is abysmally abysmal.  (more…)

Dark Cinema

March 29, 2010

This morning, after having driven my three kids to two schools in the San Fernando Valley, I was heading west on Ventura Boulevard when a man in a tank-like black SUV raced toward me on my side of the road.  With moments to spare, I swerved out of the way, and you know what?  The guy smiled at me and gave me a friendly wave; a grey haired demon, refusing to take responsibility, or just the angel of death trying to do his job? I came home and told Julie what had happened, shouting in outrage.  Did it do any good to get excited?  Why can’t I view existence with equanimity? I am far from a perfect driver – so live and let live…right? But that’s not who I am and so I move on to the next outrage: a threat to my beloved stereoscopic cinema.  (more…)

UPDATE: BRIGHTEST STEREOSCOPIC PROJECTION

March 24, 2010

I have been working on a new stereoscopic projection method, the Oculus3D™ system, using 35mm projectors and specially formatted film.  From a business perspective there is a strong demand for a product like this since there are not enough digital projectors, the usual platform for 3D projection, in the United States, North America, or the rest of the world, for that matter.  There are theatrical features, mostly adventure fantasy films, shot in 2D, that are being converted so that they can be shown in 3D. And there are 3D movies in the pipeline that were planned to be in 3D — something like two features a month for this year. A studio executive is probably making a good decision to convert assets to maximize attendance and profits after the robust success of Avatar and Alice, which are financial successes that have given a boost to the stereoscopic medium.  We are seeing steps toward the ubiquity of the stereoscopic cinema on a genre by genre basis – first kids’ animation, then horror date movies, and now action, science fiction, and adventure films. The 3D films that are getting made are, with the passage of time, for older and older audiences. Now it would seem that all tent-pole movies are likely candidates for 3D.  (more…)

How Shuttering Eyewear Came To Be

March 18, 2010

Field-sequential electro-stereoscopic displays require a selection device to alternately occlude and transmit successive fields to each eye.  A sequence of images is  written  using  a technique  which  is  similar to that used for  planar  video  or electronic  displays. Today such displays are typically produced by DLP projectors or fast LCDs that are part of TV sets now arriving in retail stores. For a flickerless stereoscopic system, the images  need  to  be  written  at  twice  the  usual  planar   60 fields/second  refresh  rate, because  each  eye,  independently, needs  to see 60 fields/second.  Therefore, in most stereoscopic video or computer graphics systems the refresh rate is about 120 fields/second.  (more…)