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GDC 2012 Part I - AMD and 4th Dimension Display



AMD

AMD Eyefinity 3D Setup at GDC 2012
At AMD I spoke with Neal Robinson who is the senior director for global content and application support.  They had a great demo showing off the combination of Eyefinity and HD3D to use three monitors running in stereo.

Neal Robinson, AMD
Neal talked about how the Gaming Evolved efforts within AMD span from developer support to pushing open standards and industry acceptance.  He said that their effort helped Microsoft solidify the 3D support in DirectX 11.1.  Once again, it came through loud and clear that from the display technology perspective stereoscopic 3D is becoming more accepted as an effectively solved from the technical perspective and something that the creative and artistic developers are starting to really run with.

4th Dimension Display

The 4th Dimension Display stuff is interesting, but nothing really new from what they had at E3 last year.  Their primary demo is a head mounted display with two 1280x1024 panels.  They are supposed to have a higher resolution version available soon, but I'm pretty sure this headset was the same type they had the previous show.  Its also important to understand that what they produce is the tiny display panel itself, not the head mounted display or any actual integrated display.  It seems easy to get wrapped up in the head tracking, the head mount itself, and the software they are using to demo - but their product really is just the little LCD panels. 
4th Dimension Displays
That said, they had three demos:  the first one was for architecture visualization and had a very convincing presentation of an apartment as a 3D space that you could look around in (head tracking changed your view, but you could not move about the space).  Next they had a racing wheel and seat setup running GTR2 which is a good driving demonstration and again the head tracking worked well to help immerse you in the simulation.  The last demo was running HalfLife 2 with a modified sharpshooter gun attachment which used an air mouse for orientation so instead of using the head tracking to look around, you aimed the gun.  The last demo had serious issues with the air mouse drifting and didnt keep its calibration for very long at all, and really did feel silly once you were aiming the gun in a totally different direction than it was showing in the game.

The resolution of their panels was good.  The image and stereo effect they presented was very good.  But for me its hard to get away from the fact that my eyes can clearly see the rectangular shape of the display panels and I know I'm looking at little screens - I have not felt that shift and get really immersed.  I think its going to have to take more of an increase in size to fill the field of view before I personally see a HMD style display as effective.

Conclusion

Wednesday was a very full day, and a great start to the main conference.  The workshop/tutorial sessions on Monday and Tuesday were interesting, but now that the general session tracks, expo floor and career pavilion are all going full swing, it definately feels like this GDC is really taking off.  One thing that is very different this year is the lack of a Keynote - instead of having the normal format with high profile presentations, they did an hour and a half session in the main ballroom giving each speaker 45 seconds to introduce themselves and pitch their talk to the audience of all attendees.  On the one hand I kind of miss the focus that previous Keynote presentations have brought to the event, but it was really fascinating (and sometimes very funny) to see what the speakers would do with such a short time to try and convince people to attend their session.

The two talks so far on stereoscopic 3D were well attended and informative.  I'm looking forward to the Thursday sessions about the cameras in Uncharted 3 and Sony's presentation geared at the artistic side of steography.  I'll also make an effort to explore the Expo and report on all the interesting stereoscopic 3D stuff I can find.