Monthly Archives: May 2011

Imagery comes in through our eyes, but what we see depends upon our brain.

With 1/4 of our brain involved in processing visual information, you’d think that we see and perceive the world pretty accurately. As it turns out, there is too much information for our brain to process everything – so it just skips over things that aren’t deemed important. If something looks familiar – like a generic car – and we have no reason to look at it in detail, then we can be easily fooled into thinking we see something that we aren’t. My theory is that when we aren’t consciously looking at something, we see it in a more referential way. Our logical left brain knows that cars are on the street and it knows what cars look like, therefore, if the visual processing of the brain isn’t fully engaged (it isn’t that important to really look at) then we can be easily fooled into thinking we see something that we really aren’t seeing.

In the example below, the people don’t even notice that the car has no depth and is a flat photographic life size print. I believe the reason that they don’t notice is because they never really look at the car other than in a referential way. There is no reason to perceive the space that the car occupies and given the distractions, clearly these people’s brains simply don’t process all of the visual information that they have available to them. The perception conflict of seeing a flat image of a car doesn’t make sense in the context of what they are seeing, so their brain just dismissed it and accepted the image of the car as a real car.

 Here is the link:

Think about the context. The man asks the people to watch his car. They glance over and see what looks more or less like a car but don’t actually get to “see” the car because their focus is really on the man talking. I submit that if the man said “look at that life size poster cutout of a car over there”, that they would not have ever seen what they believed to be a car. It all has to do with context and how the brain processes the information given to it and what the perception expectation is.

In many ways, the above is a broader explanation of what is happening with regards to imagery in general. There is so much, we simply don’t look at things – we just get a sense of them. We have so many distractions that we don’t visually engage in looking at things in detail. This sensory overload and the abundance of imagery via camera phones and the internet, make it less valued.

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Try Converting A 2D Version Of This To 3D Or Interpolating Views…

This is a stereo cross view animation. For instructions on how to see it refer to:

In this example, note the extreme amount of spatial information that simply can’t be extracted from a 2D original. In the original 21 megapixel source images you can also see spider web glisten with binocular rivalry (it is partially evident in a few frames if you look very closely. I’ll have a lot more to say about this multi perspective shot in future blog posts. Suffice it to say that it is the kind of image that inspired me to build an insane multi-camera array. It was taken outdoors, with the wind blowing!

This shot also has illusion components. Can you figure out what they are?

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Illusions Provide A Glimpse At Brain Vision Processing

Check out these illusions:

These illusions are but another example of the truth that it is the brain that sees, not the eyes. This is a very important concept to keep top of mind when creating 3D imagery. By presenting a different perspective to each eye, the brain takes that input and converts it to an image with depth. In the case of 3D imagery – the imagery provides an illusion that the brain processes and interprets as a real depiction of space. In truth, the space does not exist – it is an illusion.

As with all illusions, there is a point where the illusion breaks down. Since it is an illusion and NOT real, by definition there will be limitations to what can be presented in 3D. Few understand that the brain will never fully accept an illusion without some level of perception conflict. It might be suppressed and deep within the subconscious, but there will always be a slight difference between what we see in real life and what is presented in the form of an illusion. But as the above examples demonstrate, there are aspects to illusion that present as very real because the brain is highly biased to process information in certain ways. Taking advantage of this bias makes it possible to create incredibly compelling 3D imagery. Ignoring it and what you end up with is far less effective.

So, thinking about 3D as an illusion, instead of mimicking the mechanics of presenting information to the eyes in a familiar way, opens up many more possibilities for compelling multi perspective imagery. Many times, what you think you are seeing is far more powerful than what you actually are seeing.

An additional follow up tidbit: By engaging the brain with a visual puzzle, you latch into engagement and fixation and open up the possibilities to communicate a great deal of information within a multi perspective image. In this way, 3D is a tool that makes new types of artistic expression possible.

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AMPED 3D vs. Lenticular?

Somebody did a google search asking the above question, so I thought I’d provide some clarity. AMPED 3D is a trademark for a process that I use to produce autostereoscopic imagery. I use lenticular lens material, but I have written my own interlacing software and modified how my printer puts the dots on the substrait (paper) that I laminate to the lenticular lens. Additionally, I had my own lenticular material cast to my specifications and I bond the lenticular lens material to a plastic backer to obtain optimal focus distance from the lens to the ink dots on the paper.

Additionally, I have extensively modified my cameras (voiding the warranty) so that they work in sync and provide extra luminance dynamic range (at the expense of error correction, which I perform with a computer separately from the camera).  While not true “HDR” I can pull about 2.25 extra F stops of dynamic range from the data.

I try to avoid pixel warping or perspective interpolation as I have found this technique to be lacking. That is why I use 14 cameras on a custom designed rail slider so that I can take up to 42 images in less than 1/2 second or 14 images within about 1/250th of a second.

I am all about being fussy and precise and still feel that the level of quality that I am able to achieve is lacking in terms of resolution. It is very likely that I won’t be satisfied until plenoptic cameras become available whereby I can extract over 100 perspectives at 1,000th of a second sync precision. This would likely require an array of 5 plenoptic cameras at today’s available technology. However, today’s plenoptic camera technology does not have enough resolution for imagery much larger than 20″ x 18″ so I can’t get very excited about it yet.

To be clear, while I am not satisfied with the imagery I have been able to create – it is far better than any other example that I have seen.

The other point I would like to make is that beyond the tech, I am fully focused on learning about the brain and how the brain processes vision. So far, many secrets have been revealed to me that I find surprising and enlightening. This insight is extremely helpful in determining what will make a compelling and emotionally engaging multi perspective image. Again, I have yet to see examples beyond my own that take advantage of what neuroscience tells us about the brain’s image processing.

So, what are those insights? What are the secrets? To be honest, I am still learning about them and do not feel that I have an abundance of answers that would make it possible for me to speak with the kind of authority that I would be comfortable with. That is requiring research, which I am doing along with others. Preliminary findings are very exciting! For example, I have proven to myself that I can craft and image which can influence the behavior of a certain demographic in much the same way a trusted friend can be an influence. Another insight is that people’s sensitivity to faked or photoshopped imagery is growing exponentially and a backlash is already in the works. The gimmicks of the past are quickly losing their effectiveness and turning towards being huge negatives.

For more information on retail signage, check out my other blog at:

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The Growing 3D Backlash / 10 Problems…

Anyone who doesn’t appreciate the negative sentiment regarding 3D has their head in the sand. The main issues regarding negativism in no particular order are:

1.) Some people can’t see 3D at all. They have lazy eye or strabismus or some other vision problem. Maybe as much as 15% of the population have difficulty with 3D or can’t see it at all.

2.) Some people have difficulty seeing 3D – especially BAD 3D that forces the viewer to cross or align their eyes in an atypical manner. They leave the theater with a headache or eyestrain. (This percentage of the population is likely higher than 15%)

3.) The “3D” aspect to the movie is purely gratuitous with poke you in the eye visuals that have nothing to do with anything. The addition of 3D does not make the movie “better”.

4.) Wearing glasses, especially wearing glasses OVER glasses is a drag. Plus, it is a good possibility that the glasses are damaged or scuffed or dirty and in many cases very uncomfortable to wear.

6.) Poorly calibrated projectors and an overly dark image, in many cases, diminish the experience.

7.) FAKE 3D! There is simply no technology that makes it possible to create “perfect” 2D to 3D conversion. The overwhelming majority of conversions are just plain bad. Ask yourself this: if part of the image is obscured by something in front of it, how can you magically make it appear? You can’t. You have to fake it and create an approximation of what you think it probably looked like. Outside of some major production like Star Wars with huge budgets for conversion, do you really think the money will be spent to do a first rate conversion job?

8.) 3DTV. There are so many problems. TV size and glasses and available content and different standards with varying quality and now the “promise” of no-glasses 3DTV “coming soon” just to confuse people about what might be available and that there might be some simple upgrade to their existing set.

9.) Speaking of 3DTV… the hype over sports is a FAIL. Content producers are ignoring consumer complaints about the players looking like “dolls” or “chess pieces”. The 3D is typically unnatural with depictions that subliminally suggest the viewer has a giant head.

10.) Poor content. 3D should be an equal production component to the whole program. How much depth and how it is depicted is hugely important. Stability between left and right views is hugely important. Evaluation through eyetracking the length of time a scene should remain on screen is hugely important. Imagery breaking frame out of context and jump cuts to different perspective and depth relationships are all bad ideas. Producers should ask themselves: “why should this scene be in 3D?” and then go about the details based upon the answer to that question.

Enough with the “Avatar this” and “Avatar that”. What worked for Avatar doesn’t guarantee that the 3D moniker has any value. There is something special that happens when people see with stereopsis and fuse two perspectives into a single perspective with depth. Things take on a realness quality that needs to make sense in the context of 3D imagery. Stereopsis takes up a huge portion of the brain’s processing and most oversimplify the complexity to an enormous degree.  The fact that the brain can take a crude approximation of two perspectives and interpret it to something that can be perceived with depth is a quantum demonstration of the brain’s plasticity to make sense out of imperfect visual input.

I am spending a great deal of time looking under the hood to understand what the brain is doing when it processes multi perspective input. Without this understanding and appreciation of the problems, there is a distinct possibility that the push back against 3D could grow and severely limit its success. This would be very unfortunately because 3D has astonishing potential to visually engage and inspire and change people’s lives in terms of expanding the human experience of what can be perceived.


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Just Completed Life Size AMPED 3D Fireman Poster

Stereoscopic crossview animation of my latest AMPED 3D poster.

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