Monthly Archives: February 2010

3D Movies & 3D Photos Have Barely Scratched the Surface of Their Potential to Show Us Amazing Things


I believe that very few people fully appreciate all that seeing a fused image from two eyes (stereovision) makes possible. A fused image provides much more than merely depth cues.

For example, today was a sunny day and I took the family to a hill for sledding fun. As I looked at the snow I became mesmerized with all of the information I could glean looking at it. The specular highlights reflecting off of the snow provided amazing information about the density and texture of the snow. Without touching the snow I could see that it was of the right consistency to make a perfect snowball.  It wasn’t powdery. It wasn’t hard. It had a granular look that told me it could be easily manipulated. In some areas, the snow had a hard covering which was also evident from the way light reflected off of the surface.

Upon closer examination, holding one hand in front of my left eye and then switching to cover the right eye I could see that many of the pinpoints of light reflecting off of the snow that were visible in my left eye were completely invisible in my right eye and vice versa. This is an example of binocular disparity and possibly binocular rivalry since points of light were mutually exclusive to each eye.  But wait, as I looked at the snow and the points of light, I didn’t notice anything other than it looked three dimensional and “normal”.  But how could it with such gross disparity between views?

Evidently, my brain was doing what it does all of the time: fusing the views together into a single image that make it possible for me to see all of the subtleties of the snow.

I suspected that the sparkle color disparity in each eye also told me something about the purity of the snow. So I looked at areas of snow that were untouched and areas that had been splashed by the road and road salt. Telling the difference was trivial. I could spot the cleaner snow in an instant even though both examples were white and would look no different in a regular photograph.  My analysis continued and I discovered I could see how the top of the snow was at the melting point in some areas and clearly not at the melting point in other areas. This provided a clue as to the depth of the snow. Upon investigation that was definitely the case. I could even tell where snow had fallen from a tree and packed together the snow grains in a different pattern to the rest of the snow. I could see how the snow had been disturbed and even was able to estimate from which branch the snow had fallen based upon the reflection of the snow’s surface. The more I looked, the more information I discovered. I wonder if the sparkles of light were being interpreted in my brain just as satellites that image dust in space can tell the mineral and gas components of the dust by evaluating the wavelengths of light. One eye was receiving one set of the sun’s reflective data and my brain was comparing it to the different reflective data from the other eye. That had to explain it, because when I blocked one of my eyes the snow detail seemed to diminish and take on a more generic look.

Also, as I began to understand what I was able to see I started to “see” more. And this, to me,  is an amazing property of stereovision. The more you look, the more you see. Because you can compare the perspectives and the subtleties are very telling. 

As we moved from the sledding area to around the fire I looked down at the grass and was surprised to instantly detect a tiny baby grasshopper resting motionless on a blade of grass of identical color to the grasshopper. It should have been invisible but my stereovision detected a bump on the blade of grass that didn’t look quite right. It was my depth perception that made the grasshopper visible. Or was it? I noticed that the blade of grass the grasshopper was on moved in the wind differently than the other blades of grass and that was what I initially noticed. Not the grasshopper. It was the disparity and how it was exaggerated by stereovision that really gave me the clue. It was a combination of visual perceptive components that made the grasshopper visible.

All of the above convinces me that seeing with two eyes, as a single fused image, may be more complex than most of us imagine. The notion that the only important component is parallax might be misguided. I say this in reference partially to the many companies offering 2D to 3D conversion services. The only thing they convert is a parallax shift of single perspective information and apply a morph at the transition points. When so much information is left out, I wonder if it will dull our senses? I wonder if we can get used to not seeing the way we normally see. And I wonder if this is a good thing.

I’m guessing that it isn’t a good thing and I am continuing the quest to capture in a photograph all of the information that is provided with multiple perspectives.

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Filed under 3D Photography, 3D snow, autostereoscopic, binocular disparity, binocular rivalry, S3D, specular highlights, stereopsis, strabismus, vision therapy

Just Posted On LinkedIn: 3D Digital Signage… Who Needs It And Why?


I just made a post on the business networking site LinkedIn in the Stereoscopic 3-D Professionals Worldwide group.  Below is a copy of that post. My next post on this blog will be what I’ve learned about the questions posed below and how 3D signage can overcome the problems mentioned below:

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With the closing down of the Phillips WoW division, (obviously they couldn’t make it profitable) how do you think 3D digital signage will ultimately succeed? What are the compelling reasons retailers or advertisers will spend the extra money (perhaps considerable) for this tech especially given that all of it will be computer graphics driven and for the most part, out of the control of their art departments.

Also, what are the reasons a large retailer would buy expensive product from relatively small and in some cases startup business ventures who are offering proprietary systems? If a company the size of Phillips abandons the tech doesn’t that signal that it is highly possible a small company might fail? And with a proprietary system, wouldn’t that company be left holding the bag with a bunch of worthless stuff?

Stereoscopic optical illusions aren’t inherently positive. Indeed, where conflict exists in the brain in terms of what is seen not matching what is normally experienced in reality their is demonstrable subliminal negative impressions that light up in the brain (there are articles in neuroscience publications about this).

If composited or computer graphics 3D signage had demonstrable and consistent high levels of ROI (return on investment) wouldn’t you see it everywhere and see it being used consistently and at great volume by companies that tried it, had a positive experience and use it extensively because of consistent results?

Let’s say it’s the year 1500 and you are a manufacturer of artist paint brushes that make it possible to apply paint to canvas with greater accuracy. In your booth you hold up a Leonardo da Vinci painting and say that with your new technology brushes anyone can paint with this amazing amount of detail and nuance. How many repeat customers do you acquire because they bought your brushes and now paint like da Vinci?

This sales tactic has been repeated through history and for some reason does not achieve a sustained postitive ROI. Despite its track record, this method of selling continues – I guess because people must believe that eventually it will work. Either that or they are only interested in an initial sell-in and don’t care about repeat sales to the same customer. I’m not sure, perhaps someone could enlighten me?

Multi-perspective content creation is both art and science. If both are not executed at the highest level, can consistent success be achieved? Is it enough to have the technology or tools of the trade without the artistry? In the case of Phillips, evidently it was not. What are others doing that is different?

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Filed under 3D Photography, 3D Video Monitors, autostereoscopic, S3D

Why Can’t A Regular Photograph Be Converted To 3D?


While a Google search will certainly yield many hits for “2D to 3D conversion” this is terribly misleading. You can create 3D “things” out of a 2D photograph but you can’t convert a 2D into a real 3D photograph in a real sense because the content to do that isn’t present within a single perspective photograph.  There will be missing obstructed imagery that can only be interpreted. But even more worrisome than obscured objects within the photo is that binocular rivalry will be totally inaccurate as it isn’t possible to interpret this phenomena from a single photograph.

What is binocular rivalry?

It is unique to two-perspective fused vision. It isn’t perception of depth, but what it adds is a richness that is what stereopsis vision achieves when we look at the real world. Binocular rivalry exists as an optical comparator of similar things within a multi-perspective photograph or even a two perspective stereocard. Any differences are perceived with an oscillating relief or flicker when there is great disparity. Where differences are more subtle, as with the qualities of texture and surface, such as the appearance of metallic objects or gemstones, we sense the attribute of rivalry in a way that greatly lessens ambiguity. We can more accurately identify metal material than even the most precise camera imaging analysis equipment. Stereo vision provides a binocular comparison of a surface and our brain separates its true appearance from the interference of reflected light. We both ignore the noise of the subject’s illumination and perceive it with the ability to lessen its ambiguity. This can be easily demonstrated when looking at metallic pigments or fabric impregnated with metallic substances.

Just as when color is reduced or eliminated we can still see. Certainly black and white television was very popular at one time. But just as color was missing and appreciated when it became available, the same is true for the accurate representation of binocular rivalry. 2D to 3D conversions can’t do this accurately. You might enjoy looking at the result just as people enjoyed looking at black and white TV. But these conversions are missing fundamental information that is substituted with false imagery.

If you want accurate 3D you must have more than one perspective to work with.  You have two eyes and a brain to process all of the information from two perspectives into a single fused image with depth. Binocular rivalry, convergence and disparity are all essential and require more than one perspective to be accurate in the same sense that what we see in the world is accurate.

So, the real title of this blog entry should be “A Regular Photograph Can Only Be Converted To A Fake 3D Image – It Can’t Match A Two Perspective Image”.

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The Case For Multi-Perspective Baby Photography


When we look at babies with our two eyes we don’t see double. Our brain fuses the image from each eye together into a single image with depth. We see the space under Baby’s precious chin, those cute dimples and the incredible space between each toe and finger. It is real, tangible, precious and emotionally charged with love. It is a savored moment because once experienced it is lost forever. People have tried to preserve these memories with their cameras, but the photographs they take flatten the experience to only that which can be shown on the surface of the print. It is great as a reminder of the experience but it is missing the realness of the moment.

Luckily, we live at a time when photographic artistry and technology is advancing to fill what has been lacking – space, depth and dynamics.

It is now possible for photographs to be taken and printed where you can see the space… where you can see a different perspective in each eye and fuse it into a single image with depth… where you can experience the moment and feel the emotion and remember.

This is what my 3D photographic art is all about.

What are the photographs like?

When I show my multi perspective photographs to children they respond saying “that’s a real picture”. It is real, especially to young kids, because they are more open to new experiences and accept what they see at face value. It looks like what they perceive in real life so it is a real picture. Adults have a more emotional reaction to my photographs because the experience is unque and magical. But the magic is not mystical, it is science. My photographs present a different perspective to each eye. And it is also scientifically crafted to image what we see normally in very precise ways. For example: it is a life size photograph. It is a photograph with the dynamic range of the human eye where instead of seeing blasted out white areas or areas of black blotchyness you see the subtle texture and detail as you would see in real life.

It is different (better) than 3D movies.

Unlike 2 perspective “3D” movies like Avatar which are experienced sitting and looking at the screen from a single point of reference wearing special glasses, Almont Green multiperspective photographs can be seen without special glasses. You look at them like any other photograph and as you shift your head and position you can change your perspective and see around edges just as you do in real life. Some Almont Green photographs have as many as 24 different perspectives.

While I’m trying my best to describe these photographs to you – it is a situation where words don’t work. You have to experience it first hand to really “get it”. It is a great dilemma because when people look at a website they expect to understand what the product is. But sadly, there is no way to recreate my photographs on a computer monitor. Not even close.

So if you have read all the way down to here, I have a special offer for you! My new studio opening in Medway, MA has been delayed as the build out won’t be completed for a grand opening in March as planned. (We now expect to open in April.) So during this time, I have decided to take some multiperspective baby photographs for free, limited of course to time and availability. I will respond to as many requests as possible. In lieu of payment, I ask that you make a donation to your favorite charity.

Click the link to the website and contact me via email for more information.

 

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Filed under 3D Baby Photography, 3D Photography, autostereoscopic

My Visit With Neuroscientist Susan Barry


A few days ago I had the opportunity to drive out to Western Massachusetts and visit “Stereo Sue” the acclaimed neuroscientist and author of Fixing My Gaze. (see: www.fixingmygaze.com and www.stereosue.com )  I wheeled in a box full of my photographs and we immediately jumped into a quick viewing session which was full of gasps and wonderment.  She was full of comments like: “Look at how the dogs mouth sticks out of the photograph…”  and  “It looks like I can reach in and grab that…” I could tell she was really enjoying my photographs and that was especially gratifying. She later emailed me that it was the highlight of her week.

After viewing my photographs we began discussing her personal journey of learning to see with stereopsis. She showed me various devices she used in her own vision therapy. One was a very interesting glasses-like device with prisms. The visual field of one eye is shifted upward and the visual field of the other eye is shifted downward so that you see the world displaced with two separate and unique perspectives. I experienced one eye becoming dominant and then the other eye. Indeed, when looking at a pencil and pressing it against an object the perception was creepy in that I wasn’t sure which eye was seeing the “real” pencil.  Seeing two views of the world instead of a single merged image with depth provides insight into just how significant the brain is in terms of how we perceive the world around us.  We talked about how people without stereopsis see things reflected in a mirror as being on the surface of the mirror. Before she acquired stereo vision, Sue said she had no concept of being able to see into a mirror. Despite numerous literary references to “through the looking glass” and other descriptive information it wasn’t until she acquired stereo vision as an adult that she had any idea of what looking into a mirror could be like.

As we talked it became very clear to me that deep emotion is closely linked with the ability to see with stereo vision. As she described learning to see the world with depth, her passion and joy was effervescent.  While I have always felt I knew the significance of seeing in 3D, I can say that before reading her book and meeting and speaking with her that I did not fully appreciate the significance of stereo vision. As the discussion progressed we talked about how we perceive a single perspective photograph and how that compares to a life size multi perspective photograph. She felt it very plausible that brain imaging would show a dramatic difference between these two types of visual stimuli.  The anecdotal evidence is there in terms of how people respond to multi perspective photographs.

Sue provided me with lecture notes and articles from acclaimed optometrist and vision therapy pioneer Dr. Frederick Brock.  This is proving to be fascinating reading and I am learning a great deal. It is evident that Brock’s research, while meant to be written in the context of providing therapy to cross-eyed or walleyed patients is much more with very interesting anecdotal notes and telling observations. One such observation was when a girl, just learning to see with stereo vision, was shown a stereo card for the first time with a photo of an animal. She replied that that photo was “real” as compared to the other pictures which were not stereo.

Considering the human preference for looking at faces I plan over the next few weeks to begin experimenting with autostereoscopic photographs to determine how multi-perspective photographs compare to single perspective photographs. Specifically, I want to gather statistical data on memory and how it is effected by different kinds of image presentation. My belief, based on anecdotal evidence is that there will be a significant difference and I want to understand the pros and cons of that as it might relate to educational materials, advertising materials and so forth.

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Filed under 1, 3D Photography, autostereoscopic, S3D, stereopsis, vision therapy

Evaluation Results For New 3D Photograph Lens Overlay Material


Testing is complete and the results are all positive. With this new cast lens material it will now be possible to produce consistent results and have predictable outcome.  This hasn’t been possible with extruded material which often times requires testing of over 10 lenses to find one of sufficient quality. My experience has been that extruded lens material has a certain amount of variation where both optics and lens alignment quality is inconsistent.

The new cast lens material has a tighter (narrower) viewing angle with very little image overlap. Essentially, this produces better 3D because each eye receives less cross talk and the brain can fuse images that more accurately depict different perspectives.

I am writing about this because it means that producing product with predictable outcome and price is now much easier and in some cases possible for the first time. This opens up many opportunities that haven’t existed in terms of producing what looks like a photograph with the addition of true to life depth.  And that is my goal. For years, I have wanted to believe that it was possible to create a photograph that looks like a photograph with the additional component of depth. I didn’t want to look at a photograph with stair step artifacts and corduroy patterns going through it. I didn’t want to have to tell people to stand back five or ten feet. And I didn’t want to be limited to small sizes. This new cast lens material gets me very close to that goal. The results are truly amazing.

Why this push for quality? Because there is a difference between an immersive visual experience that accurately mimics reality and a visual that is an extension of a parlor trick. Viewmasters are fun. Stereoscopes are fun.  3D content has been produced for enjoyment and fun. It has been produced with the mindset of shoving 3D’ness in your face.  To wow and amaze.

My goal is different. My goal is to capture what I see with my eyes and turn that into a photograph. Just as you see into the reflection of a mirror, so too I want you to see into my photographs.

Why?

For all of the reasons we enjoy photographs. With the invention of color people didn’t look at the photograph and say “wow, I’ve never seen color before”. They accepted it as being more accurate… more representative of what they saw in real life. As photographs got larger and achieved higher resolution again this was accepted because once again the photograph provided more realism and accuracy. Photograph technology that has strayed away from the march toward realism and accuracy has never gained a strong acceptance. It is like any other novelty or curiosity. Interesting, but not essential. The goal has been and always will be about matching our frame of reference. The images our eyes see in the real world. This is our frame of reference.

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