INTERVIEWS

MTBS Interviews Abe Perlstein

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There have been a lot of exciting high profile 3D festivals and conferences in the past two years. 3DX finishes this weekend, the 3D Entertainment Summit is just around the bend, and now, it’s time for something a little different.

Independent S-3D photographer and enthusiast Abe Perlstein joins us to talk about his career, and his “underground” festival happening this Monday, November 24th in Paso Robles, California.


Abe Perlstein

1. Abe! Welcome to MTBS. Tell us about yourself. How were you first introduced to stereoscopic 3D photography?

My first introduction to stereoscopic 3D photography was a gift of a Bakelite-style View-Master Viewer and set of reels my mom and dad gave me when I was about ten years old. I’ve cherished that viewer and ten or fifteen reels for forty years now. My favorite from that group is the 1968 title, Land of the Giants.

I started in as a professional 2-D photographer in 1977 shooting bands and portraits. From 1980 to 2000 I was a Hollywood-based motion picture, television, and music industry stills photographer.

In 1991, a notice tacked up onto my bulletin board for over ten years advertising monthly meetings of the Stereo Club of Southern California finally motivated me to check out the scene. I was an amateur audiophile at the time and wondered what a group of stereo enthusiasts meeting in a room would be like. I fully expected a bunch of hi-fi geeks admiring each other’s stereos.

There not only weren’t any stereos in the room, but a very odd looking twin-lensed projector captured my attention along with a large silver screen. A wild assortment of mostly older men were talking about stereo photography. The images projected that night were beyond impressive. From then on, stereo photography became my primary artistic expression.

2. I visited your personal gallery, and much of your work is just breathtaking. You have a gift for picking scenery that complements the stereoscopic 3D experience. What do you look for when taking pictures? Are there criteria that you try to meet when selecting your image choices?

Thank you for your kind words. Abes3Dworld is a mix of a handful of scanned 35mm slide pairs shot with single or twin-camera rigs along with a crop of single-digital-camera rock-and-roll stereo views.

When seeking out stereo photography, the majority of this work to date has been self-assigned. I seek scenes that are first and foremost compelling in flat 2-D composition, then greatly enhanced by stereo depth. I enjoy imparting specific moods and/or telling a story. Primarily, I shoot a mix of documentary and fine art portraiture. My favorite subjects include hyperstereo landscapes and aerial perspectives, figurative portraits in natural environments, wildflowers, macro studies of various objects, architecture, and wildlife shot with some degree of hyperstereo imaging.

3. Your gallery is in both anaglyph (red/blue) and side by side or cross-eyed formats. When you capture your images, what type of display media are you thinking of?

The red/cyan anaglyphs are largely posted to benefit visitors who desire instant gratification versus the slight learning curve that comes with mastering the much more color-accurate cross or convergent-viewing format. However, I believe anaglyph will command a sizable portion of the market for the foreseeable future due to its ease of distribution. On the other hand, as an artist, and because color accuracy is paramount, I visualize a time in the not-so-distant future when the majority of my stereo photography (and videography) will find a home on circular polarized stereo, glasses-free, or electronic shutter-glass field-sequential 3-D screens.

For theatrical settings, high-definition circular polarized projection is my favorite as of the moment. I’m also a big fan of passive multi-view transparency viewer technology and binocular photography books with built-in lenses such as the ongoing series published by Chronicle Books.

4. We met at the Stereoscopic Displays & Applications Conference. During a phone conversation, we talked about video games and their relationship to stereoscopic 3D. Among the things we discussed, you had a personal fascination with head mounted displays and what they can do for the physically challenged. What did you have in mind? Please elaborate?

Immersive goggles, head-mounted displays, and the gamut of other stereo viewing devices have the ability to afford stress relief and transport us mortal regular humans from the constraints of our often limited realities. This especially goes for those of us whom are physically challenged and/or bed-ridden.

5. What types of experiences would be best captured for this purpose? Do you see this as an important niche market for the S-3D industry?

Imagine the boon to patients laid up in hospitals, rehab centers, as well as the general population who may soon be able to safely experience the thrill of jumping out of airplanes, climbing the tallest mountains, diving on spectacular coral reefs, hang gliding, exploring underground cave systems, commanding a 200 mph racing car, or any number of extreme sport perspectives.

My dream is to put cameras in the many places that afford us dynamic perspectives of alternate realities. This also goes for exploring fantasy animated environments. I see this as much more than a niche market, but moreover as the driving force in establishing 3-D for the masses, largely through personal on-demand viewing experiences.

6. “The 3D Indie Film Expo”. What is it and what can we expect to see?

With all the attention given to the meteoric rise of commercial studio-supported 3-D animated and live-action feature films in the national and international marketplace, now is the time to throw also the spotlight on the do-it-yourself 3-D film community producing great work that has, until recently, had little to no exposure to the general public.

The 3-D Indie Expo will showcase visionary works across a broad spectrum of subjects including Tom Koester’s revealing documentary study of “The Towers of Simon Rodia” (also known as the Watts Towers), Tom Reiderer’s “Up Denali in 3-D” adventure film, Santiago Caicedo’s brilliant animated/live-action fantasy, “Moving Still,” Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch’s “Wanderlust” music video for Bjork, Eric Deren’s thrill-packed “Skydiving in 3-D,” John Hart’s ingenius study of liquids captured through dramatically lit high-speed macro stereography in “Liquid Magic,” Takashi Sekitani’s phenomenal hyperstereo spectacular of bombs bursting air in “Fireworks Symphony” are just a few of the short films scheduled for this Monday.

7. “Underground 3D movement” – the festival website mentions this regularly. What do you mean by this? What to you constitutes an underground movement? Can you describe the culture for us?

While a few shorts at the Expo were supported by commercial concerns, the majority of work we are presenting was produced by self-funded film makers with a passion for 3-D storytelling. One of my favorite terms was coined by 3-D film historian, author, comics publisher, and emerging 3-D film maker, Ray Zone.

The “Desktop 3-D Revolution” encompasses a growing legion of 3-D film makers configuring their own camera systems from off-the-shelf components and producing exceptional results. While millions of dollars are earmarked toward professional-grade camera systems for the Hollywood community, those systems are largely out of reach for the emerging film maker. As a result, more and more “underground” 3-D film makers are cobbling together twin HD camera rigs at a fraction of the cost of the big boys, while the results of their labors are equally or more impressive. At the end of the day, content is king, even if the camera system that captured the action is of “pro-sumer” status.

8. Why do you think stereoscopic 3D has an appeal to this culture? What does it offer that captures their interest?

I’m certainly not the first person who said this, but, hey, the world isn’t flat. Why look at it that way?!?

9. Why did you start this festival? How did you come up with the idea?

Having been a member of the Stereo Club of Southern California since 1991, I’ve watched the transformation of this very talented and visionary grouping of stereo media folk grow from largely a hobbyist and enthusiast group of stereo photographers to a force for dimensional change on the world stage.

John Hart, my Co-Producer, has been experimenting with 3-D film making since the 1950’s and has been Chair of the SCSC Movie Division organizing 3-D movie competitions since 1982. Submissions come in from all over the world. The bulk of these films are astounding, especially when considering the majority are shot on miniscule budgets. The rise of affordable digital cameras, editing gear, and projectors has enabled the SCSC, other stereo societies across the U.S. and abroad, and larger stereo imaging societies such as the National Stereoscopic Association and International Stereoscopic Union to provide a platform for showcasing the works of 3-D film makers on a regular basis. These gatherings have been wonderful for those inside the 3-D community, but, are for the most part off the radar of the general public and Hollywood industry professionals. And while a new crop of primarilly commercially-oriented 3-D film festivals and conferences are seemingly popping up every other week, the do-it-yourself community was still lacking the high-profile public venue they so justly deserve for presenting their work.

The idea for the 3-D Indie Film Expo came about as one of those lightbulb-above-the-head moments as I was sipping wine and munching hors d’oeurves during a 2008 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival reception in Paso Robles. I was feeling kind of bored when I found myself standing near a friendly chap who seemed to enjoy talking about films as much as I did versus many people in the room who were seemingly more interested in chatting about everything and anything except films. So, we stood there for the better part of 45-minutes as I burned his ear off about my vision for a truly independent 3-D film festival. He seemed interested. I then discovered this good-humored and film savvy man was “Buffalo” Benford Standley, seasoned event promoter and documentary film maker.

He casually mentioned he was producing the Paso Robles Digital Film Festival and perhaps we should talk more about my idea. To make a long story short, I projected my “Meet The Flockers” 3-D slide documentary on the habitats and birds of the Morro Bay National Estuary and explained that while my program was not a movie, similar subject matter in 3-D movies can be just as if not a lot more impressive. We talked a number of other times and then Benford introduced me to Sara Ivicevich, whom has worked on projects over the past five years with Benford on multi media projects that encompass music, film, and the digital revolution. That was back in April. Sara Ivicevich is now 3DIFE Supervising Producer.

10. Your lead panelist is Ray Zone. Please tell us about him, his work, and why are you excited to have him moderate the panel.

Ray, “The 3-D Desktop Revolution” Panel Moderator is a 3-D film maker, author, and speaker with an international reputation as a stereographer. Ray produced Ron Labbe’s CG IMAX 3-D short, “Mousetrapped,” wrote and directed “Slow Glass,” which won awards at the SCSC Movie Competition (1st Place) and the National Stereoscopic Association Convention, and is the author of “3-D Filmmakers: Conversations with Creators of Stereoscopic Motion Pictures” (Scarecrow Press, 2005) and “Stereoscopic Cinema and the Origins of 3-D Film: 1838-1952” (University Press of Kentucky, 2007). He has also brought 3-D slide shows and other presentations into libraries, schools, and as programming for a variety of special events.

Of all the people in the 3-D community, Ray is undoubtedly one of the most knowledgeable and a no brainer choice to lead this expert panel.

11. Tell us about your team. Who are you working with to make this all possible?

  • Sara Ivicevich, skilled producer, writer, editor, and heading MediArt productions, a company dedicated 100% to 3-D events and production is 3DIFE Supervising Producer. Sara was instrumental in pulling this event together in record time.
  • Eric Kurland, Stereo Club of Southern California Vice President, and the producer of a popular mobile drive-in theater event held regularly in Los Angeles. He is an expert in desktop solutions for stereoscopic motion picture projection, and author of “Homebrew Digital Movies” in the May 2008 issue of Make Technology on Your Time. He is 3DIFE Technical Supervisor in charge of formatting all content and projection, and 3DIFE panelist.
  • John Hart, retired elementary school principle, long time Stereo Club of Southern California Movie Division Chair and 3DIFE Co-Producer in acquiring screening content, and 3DIFE panelist;
  • Ray Zone, Stereo Club of Southern California Program Director, Staff Writer for the 3D News SCSC monthly newsletter, Contributing Editor for Stereo World Magazine, imerging 3-D film maker, and Moderator of “The Desktop 3D Revolution” panel discussion;
  • Shannon Benna, a multi media Producer and V.P. of MediArt Productions, an all-3-D events company, is 3DIFE Co-Producer working closely with Sara Ivicevich on a wide variety of organizational tasks, sponsorship, and web design;
  • Paul Taylor, feature film Director of Photography, Steadicam Operator, and 3-D Cinematographer working with Eric Kurland on server-related issues as well as presenting a live high-definition 3-D video demo;
  • and Tom Koester, prolific 3-D documentary film maker and 3DIFE panelist.


    Abe Perlstein

    12. This isn’t a traditional film festival. Can you describe the atmosphere attendees can look forward to? What entertainment can we expect?

    The Paso Robles Digital Film Festival is a uncommon mix of live music and screening events. Headlining acts include The Bacon Brothers featuring actor Kevin Bacon and his brother and musician Michael Bacon; recipient of the President’s National Medal of Arts and Grammy-winning legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliott; the ‘Kyle Eastwood Band’ (featuring the son of film-star Clint Eastwood); as well as a special guest appearance by the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet. Also featured will be gigs with musician Jack Tempchin, (songwriter for The Eagles), legendary guitarist Norm Stephens (who played with Lefty Frizzell and Merle Haggard), Grammy Winner Louie Ortega, and many other award winning and notable music-makers. Other ‘big surprise’ musical guests are to-be-announced.

    Aside from cozy venues like the Paso Robles Inn, Level Four, Hotel Cheval, Park Ball Room, Firefly Gallery, Franklin’s Hot Springs, and others where the music and screenings will take place, the festival will feature a 2,000-seat circus-tent stage for musicians and bands, surprise guests and Festival Awards at the Martin & Weyrich Winery.

    Paso Robles, California, is located about 210-miles South of San Francisco, or 230-miles North of Los Angeles, and is historic for its natural hot-springs where the Native Americans knew of their healing power for untold centuries, then to Old West History, such as the legend of Jesse James, James Dean and the great pianist Paderewski, to 200 wineries, and 26,000-acres of award winning grapes . The town is located along U.S. Highway 101, with numerous high-quality hotels, many fine restaurants, wine-tasting venues in the center of the walking-friendly downtown area, and just south and sideways of Sundance…a wild west film festival…in cowboy wine country.

    The 3-D Indie Film Expo event is being held in the historic Park Ballroom, in downtown Paso Robles, California. The five-hour event begins with a 1-2PM social hour featuring a liquid dark chocolate fountain and various dipping items presented by artisan chocolatiers, Herrmann’s Chocolate Lab paired with a nirvana-invoking cabernet sauvignon and other vintages by award-winning Central Coast winemakers, Vina Robles.

    While folks are sipping wine paired with liquid chocolate, they’ll—parden the obvious pun–likely feel a little tipsy and in turn welcome the gypsy jazz stylings of The Tipsy Gypsies, a phenomenally talented band I believe are destined for movie soundtrack greatness.

    Attendees will further stoke their taste buds with tri-tip steak bites, bruschetta, fried/stuffed mushrooms topped with melted cheese, garlic bread, and sodas & bottled waters served throughout the event courtesy of our generous food and beverage sponsor, Mclintock’s Saloon and Dining House.

    Unique 3-D visual displays, including Tom Reiderer’s macro stereoscopic microscope with living Pacific Ocean tide pool creatures rear-projected in real time on a polarized screen, and Eric Kurland’s video phantogram display will be placed about the Ballroom and go far in satisfying everyone’s deep space appetites.

    At 2:00PM, the 3-D Indie Film Expo will begin the first hour of immersive award-winning three-dimensional documentaries, comedies, dramas, extreme sports, music videos, and innovative animated shorts by visionary American and international filmmakers realized through high-defnition stereo polarized projection. Polarized 3-D glasses will be provided.

    At 3:00PM we’ll pause for intermission and begin our second wine tasting provided by Rotta Winery featuring one of their mouthwatering ports (simply delicious when paired with Herrmann’s chocolate fountain and dipping items), along with a red and a chilled white wine.

    Then, acclaimed 2-D and 3-D Director of Photography, Paul Taylor dazzles our eyeballs with a fascinating high-definition 3-D video demonstration followed by “The Desktop 3-D Revolution” panel discussion on do-it-yourself 3-D moviemaking moderated by 3-D film historian and author, Ray Zone and featuring film makers, Eric Kurland, Tom Koester, and John Hart.

    After a short break, 60-minutes of short 3-D films from around the world will be shown, some of which are premiering in front of North American audiences for the first time.

    The day’s celebration will come to a glorious close with a 45-minute networking and social mingle period.

    Seating is limited to just 120 seats. You can learn more from the festival homepage.

    13. I understand there will be 3D hardware demonstrations too. What do attendees have to look forward to?

    We are also expecting a handful of film makers present with various home made 3-D camera rigs. Additionally, Santa Barbara-based Tom Reiderer just sent out an e-mail stating: “I’ll be there with a TrueVision 3DHD camera/display system showing three-D adventure clips and a live demo of tide-pool critters under a microscope. Come see our 1-touch WYSIWYG recording system and the tops of various mountains around the world.”

    14. You’ve been involved with 3D long before it earned today’s popular interest. As an S-3D enthusiast, what do you foresee the biggest challenges our industry needs to overcome for S-3D to be successful in the consumer markets?

    The biggest challenges I see ahead are overcoming the notion that 3-D content viewed with 3-D glasses is an issue. While I am not a huge proponent of anaglyph presentations as a means to an end, they do serve a valuable purpose for ease of content distribution in a variety of media and a great way to introduce 3-D to the masses. As for polarized projection, for the time being, this technology is top dog for premium 3-D presentations worldwide. Glasses are not an issue accept to the uninitiated who associate glasses with cheesy 1950’s and 70’s-era feature films. Of course, if glasses-free presentations get a lot better than they are now, I’d be all for tossing glasses into the dust bin of history. Then again, they do sorta look cool.


    Abe Perlstein

    15. At the 3DX Film Festival, Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted all movies will be made in 3D within five to seven years. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

    I agree for the most part. Most animated films look better in 3-D, though this is not the case with all live action films. I believe there’ll still be a place for the flatties. But, overall, I believe the majority of feature films will make the change to non-exploitive 3-D in four to seven years. As for television and internet, those are unknowns. If I had my druthers, most of broadcast television and home video would ramp up to 3-D in three or four years or less. From what I gather, the majority of “3-D Ready” HDTV owners don’t have a clue as to what these sets actually do, though, this will eventually change.

    When I was ten years old my family had a small black & white televison. Slowly, we noticed friends, family, and neighbors making the switch to color sets. I seem to remember my mom stating something along the lines of “We don’t need color television. Black & white is good enough for us.” That line of thought persisted for another two or three years until we, too joined the masses embracing the color revolution. As an analogy. in much the same way 78 rpm records made way for 45’s, L.P.’s, cassettes, CD’s, MP3’s, DVD audio, and so on, 2-D will eventually give way to 3-D. It’s just the mostly likely course for a species that naturally views our universe in stereo.

    16. If I understand you correctly, the 3D Indie Film Expo is an underground movement. Do you think the underground film makers will have a role in shaping our industry’s future? How so?

    Without a doubt. The public’s current love affair with 3-D cinema will wane if content quality doesn’t keep pace with whiz-bang 3-D-for-3-D’s-sake imaging quality, and even though the public will always embrace the big budget spectacle, even when the story line is paper thin, I believe do-it-yourself film makers with creative minds and eyes and a strong sense of innovation will soon contribute a sizable percentage of feature film, television, and web-oriented content. Once the tools of production and post-production come down to an even more affordable level, all bets are off. Then the 3-D Desktop Revolution will be in full bloom.

    17. What final remarks can you share with our S-3D advocates?

    When people tell you you are ahead of your time, let them know the future is now…and it’s in 3-D!

    Thanks for joining us! Best of luck with the festival. This is the first interview I have written that made me hungry. ;=)

    MTBS members! Do you think the underground S-3D film making movement is key to driving our industry’s success? Post your thoughts in our forums.

  • MTBS Interviews Andrew Fear, the Product Marketing Manager for the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Stereoscopic Technology

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    By Neil Schneider

    With all the talk of stereoscopic 3D or TRUE 3D gaming, there is a great deal of focus on the display hardware. Hardware like 3D monitors, projectors, and HDTVs. The equipment is important, yes – but the supporting software plays an equal part in making this gaming magic come to life.

    A stereoscopic 3D display requires a completely separate left and right image to be projected on the viewer’s eyes for a true 3D experience to occur. While modern video games are rendered in 3D using API’s like DirectX and OpenGL, most games and game engines don’t put out a left and right image (or camera view) on their own and for this purpose.

    A stereoscopic 3D driver is a piece of software that captures the DirectX or OpenGL information from the game, and extrapolates what the left and right image should look like. Until most games and game engines implement native S-3D support, the driver is what will make modern video games stereoscopic 3D compatible.

    Up until the last year or so, NVIDIA was the only stereoscopic 3D driver solution on the market. Made strictly for NVIDIA graphics cards, their software solution was responsible for nearly every form of S-3D equipment on the market. Popular examples include LCD shutter glasses, dual and single projectors, and a wide selection of monitors (e.g. Neurok Optics or iZ3D, Sharp, and Planar). Their software drivers were completely free to download and use, and to the best of our knowledge, stereoscopic 3D manufacturers got complementary software support of their hardware in the NVIDIA software drivers.

    Unfortunately, NVIDIA’s driver releases became few and far between. Windows XP driver development halted in favor of Vista. When the Vista drivers were released, only the Zalman monitors were supported. The entire stereoscopic 3D community and industry was nothing less than furious because their favorite hardware solutions were no longer being supported. It was even rumored that Zalman had exclusivity with NVIDIA, and it was Zalman’s fault that there wasn’t further hardware support.

    Last month, NVIDIA showcased their own branded shutter glasses on prototype Viewsonic monitors. Is this another license scenario? Do manufacturers have to pay to use NVIDIA drivers and glasses? What can we expect out of these drivers?

    MTBS is joined by Andrew Fear, the Product Marketing Manager for the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Stereoscopic technology. Andrew talks about NVIDIA’s place in the S-3D industry, the core products they are working to market, and what this means for LCD shutter glasses and CRT monitors.

    1. Is your goal to make the NVIDIA glasses the 3D hardware of choice to complement high refresh rate LCD panels, and are not licensing the drivers out? In other words, the monitor is no longer the determining factor here – it’s the NVIDIA glasses. As long as there are enough glasses in the market, it doesn’t matter what monitor they are used with? Please elaborate.

    NVIDIA’s fundamental goal is to enable the highest quality PC stereoscopic solution for gamers. As your community knows very well, gaming in stereoscopic 3D is a uniquely immersive and entertaining experience. We want to bring that experience in the highest quality and with the best performance to GeForce users.

    In the past few years, the PC industry has been transitioning from CRTs to LCDs as the primary displays for all PCs. As we watched this transition, we saw that the market was naturally going towards higher refresh rate LCDs. Our goal was to take advantage of this trend and develop our own 3D glasses that could complement these displays. We have been working with display partners to make small changes in their designs to ensure compatibility with new active shutter glasses.

    2. Will you be charging S-3D display manufacturers for the ability to be compatible with your glasses? What about alternative displays? Zalman, Head Mounted Displays, Projectors, etc. Are they treated the same way? What about old school LCD Shutter Glasses & CRT monitors? Will the glasses have to be NVIDIA branded to work?

    Our goal for display support is to enable as many displays as we can that support the new NVIDIA 3D glasses. As new displays come on the market that support high quality stereoscopic 3D, we will test them to make sure that they work with our 3D glasses and we’ll enable support in our software. We want to enable a large ecosystem with a large installed base of users, so this is not a licensing program for monitor makers to work with NVIDIA 3D glasses.

    Right now our glasses support the new ViewSonic® pure 120 Hz LCDs, Mitsubishi® 3D DLP® HDTVs, generic Texas Instruments checkerboard pattern 3D, and analog CRTs that support at least 100 Hz refresh rate.

    3. What key improvements have been made to the NVIDIA stereoscopic 3D drivers since the last XP drivers?

    We have completely rewritten our software architecture for Windows Vista, so that means a few key things for gamers. You can expect support for NVIDIA SLI®, GeForce 8 series and up, DirectX 10, and one thing that I know the MTBS3D community is familiar with, Dual-core / Quad-core CPU support. In addition, we are doing usability testing and designing new software interfaces, so I expect that part to be a lot better as well.

    4. Are the drivers SLI compatible? Can you share some performance expectations with and without SLI?

    Yes, in fact we were demonstrating on NVIDIA SLI on many of our demo stations at NVISION 08. Unfortunately we’re not ready to share performance numbers yet since our software isn’t complete. But SLI users can be confident that they will be able to take advantage of the additional GPUs in their systems for better stereoscopic 3D performance.

    5. Why now? NVIDIA has been dead silent for years, what got you interested in S-3D again?

    As your readers know, we have been active in the stereoscopic 3D gaming community for over 10 years. We’ve been working on this particular implementation for almost two years, but we’ve kept it pretty quiet for competitive reasons.

    We’ve actually demonstrated the updated software technology at various events including CES 2008 and GDC 2008, but NVISION 08 was the debut for our new 3D glasses design. Fundamentally, we have always believed in stereoscopic 3D both on the professional and the consumer side; there simply have been some barriers to entry for users. We are trying to help improve 3D quality, increase industry awareness, and provide the best experience for gamers.

    To illustrate how important it is to us, we included stereoscopic 3D as part of our GeForce Force Within campaign.

    Obviously, the MTBS3D community is incredibly knowledgeable and savvy about stereoscopic 3D. We’re looking to help raise awareness with more consumers and show them how innovative and cool it really is.

    6. How often can we expect stereoscopic driver updates? Another NVIDIA source said the stereo drivers will be bundled automatically with the GeForce/Forceware drivers – is this true?

    First off, we have changed our driver algorithm so you do not need to have an exact matching GeForce graphics driver and stereoscopic 3D driver. In the past if the versions were not an exact match, a user could not get the solution to work. Now, you just need to have drivers from the same release branch. For example, you could install the 177.39 GeForce graphics driver and the 175.12 stereoscopic 3D drivers because they are both from the 177 release.

    Second, with this change we can now update our stereoscopic 3D drivers more frequently to fix issues, add game profiles, or add new features without having to wait for a new GeForce graphics driver release.

    We believe both of these changes are good for end users, and allow us to release higher quality drivers more frequently for the community.

    7. This question should be tougher to answer than you think! What problem does stereoscopic 3D solve that makes it a high demand technology? Let me explain through example. You buy mouthwash for bad breath, you buy a light for a dark room – what problem does S-3D solve that makes it critical for gamers and consumers? What need does it fulfill that customers can easily grasp so the industry can clearly positions it as must-have technology?

    Actually Neil I think it is easier than you think. Everything we see is in 3D: your environment, your collection of Chewbacca action figures, your one-eyed cat, your morning cup of Joe. Everything is in 3D except your display or TV – those are in 2D.

    Many of us spend eight or more hours a day looking at these displays and don’t think twice about it. And oftentimes, we are using applications like Google Earth, Cooliris, and Adobe Acrobat Reader that have 3D data in them, but cannot be utilized by a 2D display.

    However, since all of these applications are rendered with a GPU, we have access to that 3D data. With the proper software and hardware, you can now dimensionalize your display and allow this data to be rendered in 3D, just as you’d expect in real life.

    So to us, stereoscopic 3D means taking a 2D experience (your display) and finally rendering it in 3D, just as you view the real world. We believe dimensionalizing the display is fundamental to the entire PC and entertainment industry in order to create visual computing platforms that represent how we view the world.

    Thanks go to Andrew Fear and NVIDIA for participating with this enlightening interview. Post your thoughts HERE.

    MTBS Interviews Nicholas Routhier, President & CEO of Sensio

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    Today we are joined by Nicholas Routhier, President & CEO of Sensio! He joins us to talk about their popular S-3D codec, some exciting deals they have developed, and a touch of gaming too!

    1. Tell us about Sensio – what does your company do exactly?

    SENSIO is a company who develops and markets stereoscopic 3D content distribution technologies for the home theatre market. SENSIO®3D is our flagship technology and is basically a codec which allows the distribution and formatting of 3D content to fit any 3D display. It is used for distribution of 3D content for DVD, BluRay, broadcast and very soon for live 3D events in 3D theatres.

    SENSIO is also the largest distributor of 3D content; in collaboration with major Hollywood studios and large format 3D film producers, SENSIO has built one of the world’s largest libraries of 3D movies for the home entertainment market.

    2. How and why did you start Sensio? What was happening at the time that justified starting your company?

    I am a 3D fan! It’s been one of my passions since I was a kid. I would play with an old 3D viewmaster all the time, I was amazed! Later, in the late ‘80s, I saw my first 3D movie and I just loved the experience and the fact that you really feel like you are there.

    When I decided to start a company in the 3D industry, back in 1999, the market was non-existent. HD was the new thing and no one talked about 3D. I was working as a banker and just felt like the challenges were not there anymore and that I was ready for something else! I started SENSIO with my partner, who was working in banking with me.

    3. How big was your team when you started, and how many people are working with you now?

    At the beginning, we were two people, my partner and I, and we were working part time. Now, our team at SENSIO is growing and we’re currently thirteen full time employees.

    4. Let’s talk about your first core business, the Sensio 3D processor. What does it do exactly?

    The SENSIO®3D technology is a compression technique used to combine two streams (right and left eye images) into a single one. The result is a single frame containing the two original ones and having the same resolution as one of the two original frames. This codec technique is visually lossless and can be used with the current 2D distribution infrastructure (DVD, broadcast, Blu-Ray, VOD, PPV, etc.) because it requires no additional bandwidth. It is offered for consumer electronic products under the S3D IP core or in a chip.

    5. Why is this chip so important? Why do you think S-3D solutions need it?

    If 3D is to become a mainstream experience and be available in the homes, it needs to meet some requirements – basically high quality and low implementation costs for distributors and consumers.

    To get consumers’ acceptance, it is essential that the experience be immersive, positive and have an added value. A high 3D quality is crucial to provide this type of experience to consumers and to avoid any association of 3D with discomfort.

    To make this business acceptable, the implementation costs need to be low. The distribution infrastructure just adapts itself to high definition and it means big money for all the players involved (studios, broadcasters, manufacturers, etc.). This is the reason why the compatibility with the current 2D distribution infrastructure is a major advantage; no one is interested in adding extra bandwidth again!

    SENSIO’s chip is most relevant because it meets these key requirements; it offers high 2D and 3D quality playback with no synchronization issues of any kind, no additional bandwidth is required, and it keeps the implementation costs for distributors and consumers low. With our technology, 3D at home can become quickly available for a majority of viewers because it answers the market’s needs.

    6. Do you have active relationships with manufacturers who are implementing your solution? Can you name some names?

    We already signed a deal for the integration of our technology into the SpectronIQ LCD HD 3DTV, which will be available in stores soon. We are also working with other manufacturers but cannot divulge any names at this point due to non-disclosure agreements.

    7. I understand you have a library of 3D movies in the Sensio format. How many titles do you have? Can you name some movies we would be familiar with?

    Our film library includes up to 40 titles, some coming from major studios. For example, from Walt Disney Studios, we have “Spy Kids 3D – Game Over” and “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D”. From Universal Studios, we have the classic “Jaws 3D” and others. SENSIO has one of the world’s largest 3D movies library and is the only one to have content for home theater available in our format.

    8. Yours isn’t the only solution hitting the market. Is there a format war looming? Can you elaborate?

    Right now, there are many 3D distribution technologies that are trying to get on the market. If we cannot talk about a format war yet, it surely can quickly come to this point. With studios starting to release their 3D movies for home video, with manufacturers who want to integrate a 3D technology into their displays and with different 3D technology companies who are competing to become the 3D standard, all the factors are in place for a format war.

    9. Why do you think it’s important to avoid a format war? How is this advantageous and what is the alternative?

    Since high definition format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray just ended, I don’t think the consumer electronic industry wants another one, with all the related costs it is involving. Also, we have to avoid a format war on the consumer market. This would only slow down the market penetration and create consumer’s confusion. For example, if there is a 2D version of a movie along with a SENSIO®3D version, another version in a different 3D format, etc; this would be confusing for consumers and expensive for studios and manufacturers.

    To avoid this, the industry has to choose a 3D format as soon as possible and has to work in concert. Standing still at this point is hardly an option. Currently, SENSIO is the only company that has already movies from major studios available on the market in its format. We also have our SENSIO®3D technology integrated in a 3DTV that will be available this fall. This brings me to the fact that if any other technology than SENSIO is chosen, two formats will be automatically available on the consumer market, exactly what all the players involved in the industry want to avoid!

    10. What is “The DVD Forum”? What is their importance and how do they fit in all this? Any new developments?

    The DVD Forum is an association which brings together hardware manufacturers, software firms, content providers and other users of DVDs. This organization is currently exploring the possibility to add 3D technology to DVD and asked for information. We responded to this request and are involved in this process.

    If the DVD Forum wants to integrate 3D to DVDs, it will have a great impact on the 3D industry, since all movies are released in DVD! It will mean that 3D will be seen not only in high definition but also in standard definition, the one that everyone has at home. This would surely give a boost to the 3D home theater market and speed its adoption.

    11. When do you anticipate a standard or algorithm choice to be selected in the DVD market?

    In twelve months! If no clear choice is made, I believe that the chosen 3D technology will be the one already mainly used.

    12. Outside of the consumer S-3D television space, you are doing work with AccessIT. Can you elaborate on who they are and what you are working on?

    Access Integrated Technologies, Inc. (AccessIT) is providing fully integrated software and services to enable the motion picture entertainment industry to make the transition from film to digital cinema. As a result of our agreement with International Datacasting Corporation, a broadband multimedia content distribution via satellite provider, we are supplying to AccessIT our Live 3D cinema decoding technology which allows the broadcast of live 3D events in digital theatres. A first deployment is planned in 50 theatres located in major US cities and AccessIT wants to continue deploying in 150 theaters by the end of 2008.

    13. Define for me 3D “public events”. Can you give examples of the types of experiences viewers would get?

    Live 3D events can be concerts, sporting events, conferences, etc. For example, viewers will be able to watch the Super Bowl live in 3D from their local theater! The experience is just like you were in the stadium and even better! The action is much closer than if you were in the actual audience because you have it right under your nose. These live events will provide a unique and immersive experience and people who have tried it just loved it!

    14. How popular are theater events? Do they currently sell well? Can you share a prediction on how well they will do in S-3D?

    2D events presented in theaters are already happening and are very popular. The Metropolitan Opera broadcasts live from New York to theaters across the country and the representations are usually sold out. Imagine if you can attend a live show or sporting event in 3D, the experience has a unique added value. I am sure that 3D live events will have a huge success!

    “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” or “U23D” are examples of 3D events (not live but still) who gained real success! They have demonstrated that people are enjoying this kind of experience and that they are ready to adopt it!

    15. Will you be able to show new types of events that were not possible before? Can you give examples?

    3D by itself does not allow for new or different events to be presented but it sure makes them more exciting. We have boxing and hockey 3D footage at the office and I’m sure that people will be blown away by the experience. We definitely see sports as the biggest live 3D opportunity.

    16. I understand you offer a 2D/3D algorithm. How does it work and what does it work best with?

    We are offering the 2D to 3D real time conversion technology licensed by JVC with our SENSIO®3D technology. We cannot reveal how the algorithm is working but the result is really good. It is working best with landscapes and vivid colors.

    17. Who do you see taking advantage 2D/3D conversion and why?

    It’s a major advantage for us to be able to offer this technology, because it partly resolves the lack of 3D content currently available on the market. Until studios release their movies for home theater in 3D, this conversion technology provides infinite content to viewers.

    18. Our members have expressed a concern that 2D/3D conversion is risky because if viewers get a bad first impression, it turns them off the technology altogether when S-3D is actually best viewed with native stereoscopic 3D content. How do you respond to that?

    If the 3D quality is higher with native 3D content than converted, it can still give people an idea about the kind of experience they can get watching 3D at home. I think the conversion must be seen as an answer to the lack of content available. Since people are already enjoying a good 3D quality in digital theaters, I think they will understand the distinction between converted and native 3D content!

    19. Can you share some visual examples of your algorithm in action?

    Here is an example of an image converted with SENSIO algorithm vs the original one.


    Original Image


    Converted to Sensio Format

    This is an example of 2D to 3D conversion in SAFE 3D format (method developed by SENSIO to create comfortable 3D effect using the traditional anaglyph images). Red and blue glasses are required to see the 3D effect:


    Sensio 2D to 3D Conversion

    20. Are you a gamer? What games do you play, and do you play them in S-3D?

    Yes, I am a gamer. I love strategy games (e.g.: Civilizations), sports games (e.g.: FIFA or NHL) and war games (e.g.: Medal of Honor, Prince of Persia or Ghost Recon). I play those games in 2D, because they are not available in 3D on game consoles! For sure they are on PC in 3D with the right equipment, but I can’t wait to be able to play them, on my S-3D game console, on a brand new Sensio3D 3DTV!

    21. I understand you are working to offer a new service for video game developers. What problem are you trying to solve, and what service are you offering to solve it?

    It is often difficult for game or film creators to work in stereoscopy and predict exactly what the 3D effect will be and actualize what they have in mind. There is a lot of guessing involved in this process. To resolve this problem and get more efficiency, we developed a product called Tru-Space, a stereoscopic calculator tool designed to automatically create and manage stereoscopic parameters yielding optimal 3D effects without any guesswork.

    With the Tru-Space, not only you are certain to get a quality and comfortable 3D avoiding headaches, nausea or any discomfort, but it enables you to predict the exact 3D effect you want to do.

    22. Can you elaborate on what your algorithm does and what makes it special?

    Our algorithm is based on a mathematic model and has been tested repeatedly on different productions. It guarantees comfort for viewers and it keeps everything proportional: the X, Y and Z. This way no object is losing its real proportion because of the stereoscopic effect; this is what makes it really special!

    23. What final remarks would you like to share with the MTBS membership?

    Stereoscopic 3D has been around for many years and we at SENSIO have been deeply involved for almost 10 years now. We’ve never seen such a level of excitement in the industry and it looks like every 3D enthusiast’s dream of a vibrant 3D home entertainment industry will become a reality in the coming years. To all the MTBS members and fellow 3D fans, your enthusiasm and commitment to stereo 3D is greatly needed and our efforts will soon be rewarded!

    Thanks Nicholas and best of luck to you! Post your thoughts on this interview HERE – maybe Nicholas will be back to answer some questions!

    MTBS Interviews Syd Bolton, Personal Computer Museum

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    Neil Schneider (Left) and Syd Bolton, Curator of the Personal Computer Museum
    at: EVOLUTION: 30 Years of Computer Games Exhibit in Toronto

    Earlier this summer, I had the privilege of attending the EVOLUTION: 30 Years of Computer Games exhibit put on by Microsoft Games For Windows and The Personal Computer Museum. Syd Bolton joins us today to share information about his museum and some exciting things they are working on!

    1. Tell us about the Personal Computer Museum – what got you interested in doing this, and how did you get it started?

    I have been interested in computers from the age of 10, and I first experienced the phenomenon known as “computer dumping” when I was around 16 when I saw some people throwing out their first generation personal computers. I rescued them, thinking that at some point people would want to see them again to relive their fondest memories. I’ve now been collecting for over 20 years.

    2. How many computers do you have? How did you acquire all this stuff?

    It’s a good question, and unfortunately not even I have the answer. I’d estimate it to be between 300 to 400 machines but it’s quite difficult to say. Of course there are duplicates and we are working hard to catalog everything we do have. The computers come from my personal collection over the years, and has steadily been built by people donating their machines to us for inclusion in the museum collection.

    3. Do you only keep computers? What other stuff will visitors find?

    We have a TON of old software and the majority of what is out on display is boxed, original software from the day that people will remember fondly. We also have an impressive collection of old magazines from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s that is hovering around the 4,000 mark. We also have peripherals like modems, books, and even brochures and ads.

    4. Which machines tend to be the biggest draws?

    People tend to remember the Amiga, Commodore, and Atari machines the most. It really depends on the visitor though, because many were Radio Shack/Tandy aficionados or maybe they were Apple people. It just really depends!

    5. How big is your software collection? Which classic games do attendees want to play most?

    The original, boxed collection is reaching into the thousands of titles now – and overall, I would easily estimate we have software approaching or exceeding the tens of thousands. We often put games out since that is what many people did with their computers, so they love playing classics like Tetris and Space Invaders.

    6. Out of all the computers, and looking at a historical time line,which machines do you think were the most innovative and marked key milestones in PC history?

    The Amiga, by far, was the most impressive computer for its time. It far surpassed anything else on the market in terms of capabilities that it just doesn’t even sit right with other computers from the same time. Of course, the original IBM PC holds a special place because it beat out every other machine to become the grandfather of the most popular computers of today. Sadly, a lot of the innovation in computers is gone today so we don’t see advancements like the Amiga or innovations like the NEXT machine.

    7. Just so members can wrap their mind around this, can you compare the processing power of your museum collection to that of a modern computer?

    On our website, we have this thing called the “Face off!” that compares the interactive computers in the museum (around 42) and the numbers look like this:

    Museum:

    Number of Machines: 42
    Speed (MHz): 305
    Memory (KB): 105453
    Mass Storage (MB): 3581

    Modern Computer

    Dell Dimension XPS 210
    Number of Machines: 1
    Speed (MHz): 1860
    Memory (KB): 1048576
    Mass Storage (MB): 320000

    It’s quite the joke – we don’t even come close in any of the counts but the biggest difference is in mass storage as you can see!

    8. Growing up, did you ever in your distant thoughts think that your favorite computers would be appropriate centerpieces in a museum? Why or why not?

    Only when I hit the 16 mark – I declared “I’m going to have as many computers as I am old!” …. of course, I should be VERY old by now!

    9. We met each other at the Games for Windows 30 Years of PC Gaming exhibit this summer. I don’t know about you, but I felt REALLY old by the time the night was done. However, I walked away with a sense that the games we grew up with will stand the tests of time – at least in memory – whereas modern video games with all their high quality graphics and immersive experiences don’t have the same staying power. Do you agree with this, why or why not?

    I think it has more to do with associative memory than anything. Are the first three Star Wars movies so much better than the newer ones? The reality is that they were the first things we had encountered of that type, that made a bigger impact for that reason. For gaming, we had nothing else to compare it to so the first games that came out were just darn amazing but it’s all we had. They weren’t just good games, they were things that changed the way we thought about televisions and interactivity and ultimately – control. We had control over the images on the TV and that’s not
    just something that could be taken lightly at the time, so I think people will really have fonder memories for their first gaming experiences over the ones today. On the flip side, I’m sure kids of today will remember their first games too with a fondness that will be similar. When they reach a certain age, the PS2 or Xbox will be remembered as the greatest thing ever.

    10. What were your favorite video games growing up?

    Dragon’s Lair sticks out in my mind because it was so amazing for the time. I also spent an awful lot of money on Star Castle and loved the classics like Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga. I also played a lot of Commodore 64 games like China Miner, Miner 2049’er and Choplifter!

    11. I understand stereoscopic 3D has a place in your museum too. Can you share some info on some neat 3D devices of the past?

    I think one of the most effective “old school” devices is the Sega Master System 3D gaming glasses. With classics like Outrun and Zaxxon that translate really well to 3-D you get quite the effect.

    12. What’s your take on modern S-3D gaming – where do you think it will sit in PC or gaming history? Why? Can you compare it to another innovation?

    I think it’s one of the better kept secrets in the industry. With the increase in awareness of S-3D gaming I think it will eventually become a more common thing. Even console games like Sly Cooper 3 have gotten into the act with the inclusion of anaglyph glasses, producing some of the games levels in 3-D that don’t require anything special other than the glasses. It gives players a unique perspective (literally) and opens the doors to what else is possible. As for another innovation – it’s kind of like talking about the mouse. Computers today are all faster, bigger and better but it’s technology like S-3D that make things fresh and exciting. I don’t know about you, but more pixels on a screen isn’t too exciting to me. When they leap out at you, however, that’s a completely different story.

    13. From what I gather, your museum is more than just a museum – it’s a part of the community too. What help do you get to maintain and upgrade the museum on a regular basis?

    Well we’ve got about twenty volunteers and a slew of “regular” visitors that come out. Beyond that, we’re starting to build an online community of people who love old computers as much as we do and are interested in preserving the past. Whether it’s donating hardware and software or working with us to enhance our electronic collection, a lot of people like getting involved and it really helps grow the museum!

    14. Your wife has a fascination with 3D. Can you elaborate on what it is she enjoys collecting?

    She has one of (if not the) biggest collection of 3D Puzzles out there. She is close to completing a collection of all the 3-D puzzles that Wrebbit has ever made (the company that pioneered the 3D puzzle) and she has a very popular website out there called puzz3d.org. She gets thousands of unique visitors every day!

    15. I understand it’s not all fun and games because you have to set aside time for fun and games! ;=). Tell us about game night! What is it and how often is it held?

    Three times a year I open up my house and the museum to people to play games all night. It’s become quite a hit and a social gathering unlike any other. Not just a lan party, we game on things current and old – a unique contrast.
    Combine it with great food and drink and you’ve got a recipe for a great time.

    16. How do you set your gaming parties apart from all the others? Can you name some things you have done to make game night interesting?

    Because I have such a collection of machines to draw on – Sega, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, arcade machines, pinball, the list goes on – it makes it quite unique and not something you would find at too many places. We also
    like taking different controllers and giving them a go. One time we had a 10-player Bomberman game…. we’ve also taking these physical fighting controllers (no wires required to activate the moves) and let people beat the crap out of each other virtually….and still break a mega-sweat.

    17. We have a community of members who love to come up with crazy wacky contraptions for better game immersion and experiences. Can you share a story or two about some creative things you have done for game night?

    I mentioned a couple in the last question, but some other things we’ve done is take 12 old Commodore monitors that are stacked on top of each other like a wall and connected 12 unique video games to them. Part of the fun is figuring out which screen you are in control of! We’ve also had the first Canadian unveiling of a Guitar Hero clone on the Commodore 64. That was unique and fun as well. Can you imagine – old meets new is perfectly displayed in that game!

    18. What special equipment did you demonstrate this year? How was the response?

    We actually showed a 22″ iZ3D monitor during one of our game nights and there was quite a positive response. I would say the biggest response was “wow, I didn’t know anything like this even existed” which tells me that the community still needs to work hard in spreading the word. I know that is something that we will continue to do as I feel strongly about it. I also felt the inclusion of extra glasses made a big difference because gaming today isn’t always just a solitary experience – it’s nice when others can share it with you.

    19. There have been a lot of gaming innovations over the years. More pixels on the screen, color depth, physics, frame rates, etc. Having experienced it firsthand, what makes S-3D so important or desirable compared to these other developments?

    Well you have just described the “PC evolution” perfectly – faster, bigger, etc. It makes you wonder – is that all we’ve got? It’s unique gaming experiences like S-3D that make gaming more interesting fun and compelling. It’s more like a paradigm shift such as the mouse. Today, we couldn’t imagine our computer world without one but 30 years ago it was nothing more than a pest in the kitchen.

    20. What’s the turn-out like for your parties? Why do you think they keep coming back? What makes it so special?

    We’re getting close to 200 people at a time and I think it’s just one of those things that works with a combination of games and good food and most importantly – people. It’s such diversity from hard core gamers to casual,
    young and old that you can’t help but have fun laughing at yourself and everyone else you end up meeting.

    21. Is it true that you are trying to break a Guinness Book of World Records record with one of your parties? Please explain.

    On September 13, 2008 (which happens to be the third anniversary of the Personal Computer Museum) we are attempting to set a new Guinness World Record for the Most Participants in a Tetris Tournament. Visitors will be
    able to compete against each other in Tetris to achieve a high score, and the top 8 players will then face off against each other to get down to the best two players. After that- it’s a head on competition to find the best player! It all happens in Brantford, Ontario from 9am-4pm.

    22. When is your museum next open for visitors?

    We are open on September 13, 2008 and most Monday evenings. If someone is going to be in the area however, please contact us through the website and we’ll try and accommodate your visit by opening up for you!

    23. Tragedy has struck and a fire has broken out in your museum. You have time to save just one computer: which one would it be and why? (and don’t say the one with your accounting software installed!)

    Thanks for clearing that up! While my favorite computers tend to be Commodore machines, they are pretty popular and fairly easily replaced. I think I’d have to say the IMSAI computer since I’ve never seen another one like it in the wild so it’s probably our rarest machine and would be the one I’d tuck under my arms. Besides, it would work as a great firewall if it had to.


    MTBS Caption Contest Image
    (Sharky on His Simulator Chair)

    24. Thanks for agreeing to judge our caption contest. Who won?

    I think I have to go with “This thing shook so hard that the bodywork fell off” from user Tril. I loved the captions that people added with the balloons as well, very good everyone! It was tough coming up with just one that I liked the most.

    25. If you added a caption, what would it have been?

    Well I did actually have a bathroom comment, but I’m not sure your audience is ready for that. I might have said something like “At this speed, I’ll NEVER get to work”!

    Well there we have it! Special thanks go to Syd Bolton of The Personal Computer Museum, and congratulations Tril! You have won yourself a copy of Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. Special thanks go to Games for Windows for making this possible.

    Post your thoughts on this interview HERE.