What’s wrong with 3D films and TV?

What’s wrong with 3D films and TV?

Hailed as the next big thing in entertainment, 3D films and TV will emerge over the next five years and result in most of us sitting in darkened rooms wearing strange glasses for fun.

I visited a friend’s house this week and he proudly told me that he had been with his children to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D at the local cinema and how much he and his kids enjoyed it.  I promptly picked up the pair of the “Roy Orbison style glasses” he had been forced to purchase to watch the film and put them on.  I looked at his youngest child through the glasses and threw up my arms in excitement and loudly exclaimed “Wow!!! I can see you in 3D, that’s amazing !!!”.  The child smiled :), I think she got my point.

Despite the hype and box office success of the latest batch of 3D films the 3D effects are hardly revolutionary and neither do they match the 3D experience of everyday real life.

When I went to see AVATAR in 3D I immediately noticed some of the problems with this technology.

Firstly the wearing of the polarized filtered glasses over my normal specs was awkward and resulted on me constantly fiddling with them to prevent them slipping down my nose or being misaligned.  I also noticed multiple internal reflections from ambient ceiling spot lights, which cinemas are required to keep illuminated for health and safety reasons (I assume).  This is annoying but the main issue is that the tinted glasses reduce the colour vibrancy of the screen image and thereby mute your enjoyment somewhat.

I found that some of the 3D scenes just didn’t fit or register right for me; perhaps it’s my eyes or something to do with the optimal seating position or screen size.  But the most critical effect of this type of 3D is that your eyes can’t alter focus within the 3D scene as they would in the real world.  I found that as my attention wandered over the scene I was trying to focus on foreground and background objects that the director and camera operator has decided would be out of focus in this shot.  At this point I lost the 3D experience magic, the illusion was broken and consequently my attention on the film and its story was momentarily interrupted.

I am suspicious that perhaps the commercial success of AVATAR might be due to people having to go back to see the film a second time because they missed part of the story the first time around as their brains were trying to process and sort out the 3D effects.

My father, whom I accompanied to the film, had more serious problems with the 3D.  His eyesight in one eye is good but in the other bad; he has the start of cataracts and has problems seeing detail in low light.  The net result was that after trying various arrangements of the 3D glasses and his own prescription specs he declared that he both couldn’t see the awesome 3D effects very well and in fact the picture was better without the 3D glasses!  He concluded watching the film without both his ordinary glasses and the 3D pair and apparently fell asleep somewhere around half way through.  I wondered if this experience might have beset some of the aging members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (who decide on the Oscars) and hence that was why AVATAR didn’t get best picture or best director this year.

So, what will be needed to give us a real 3D experience?

Ultimately advances in large scale holographic imaging and projection are needed for cinema scale public viewing and objects need to appear solid in the 3D space.  Ideally glasses should not be necessary.  The Star Trek Holodecks come to mind as an ideal example.  But at the moment I have no idea how this would be done or even if it will be possible anytime in the future.

In the meantime however, we may get closer by increasing the HD resolution of image projections and TV screens and displaying multiple images, possibly hundreds of stereo pairs every second, of a particular scene at different focusing points.  The Camera technology to do this would be beyond even that developed for films like AVATAR and Alice in Wonderland.  A pair of LCD shutter type glasses would select the image pairs to be viewed by each eye by examining the optical geometry of your eyes and allowing you to both view the desired object in the scene that you want to focus on and also correcting automatically for any vision aberrations, in effect also acting like your own prescription glasses so obviating the need to wear two pairs or a pair of contact lenses.  I neat idea might be to combine the shutters and eyesight focus detection within a pair of contact lenses.

An alternative way might be to create a virtual 3D world of the Movie in which you can both observe what’s going on in an immersive fashion or even participate in the film as an extra.  As with many current computer games that put you in the driving seat or as the first person shooter, you would see the movies surroundings while wearing a light weight 3D headset and be able to move your head and look around the scene.  Actors and the action would occur around you or you might even find yourself as the passenger in the car chase.

The viewing angle would have to be the same as your normal peripheral vision and therefore the goggles would have to be large enough and possibly curved 180 degrees to give the coverage.  A wearable IMAX if you like.  Alternatively the images could be beamed directly into your eyes and onto your retina by low power lasers, although for some reason I don’t think I would feel safe with that.  Extending the contact lens idea mentioned above could see images created in active contact lenses in your normal field of view.  An adaption of that could even present augmented reality in the real world so that you see things that aren’t really there, for example, a virtual life size assistant in a department store or conference participants seated around the table but who are in fact all over the world.

For this Ultimate 3D experience to become a reality the technology for high definition image capture and processing will need to be much greater than it is now, particularly because the rendering of multiple virtual images in a computer will need to be accomplished in real time and not take days to render a single frame but it is not beyond near future possibility as graphics processing chips continue to be developed.

But while this seems a long way off do not despair, with very little technology and very low cost you too can experience the awesomeness of 3D right now…just open your eyes and go outside into the real world and smile :)

Granny and Granddad Moron.

I am dismayed at the lack of progress at the Copenhagen climate change summit and at the chaotic demonstrations as well as the actions of the police in crowd control.  (more on policing in the 21st century in a later blog).

It is showing up all that is bad about our understanding of the climate change threat and how much the world is divided.

Unless we can all (and I mean the whole 7 billion of us) come to a common understanding on climate change and agreement on mutual support, there is little hope that all but a handful of us humans, plants and animals will survive into the next century.

It astounds me how much drivel is written on www.sky.com/news and www.newscientist.com in the news article comments by climate change refuseniks.  They were asleep in their school science classes and suffer from delusional paranoia.  The Science is basic and easy.

Scientists around the world are shaking their heads in disbelief at the shear stupidity of 50% of the population who don’t get it and don’t understand that 7 billion humans are effecting the climate and their activity threatens survival of the whole human race and countless plants and animals.

This is a potential mass extinction event. Unless we can convince the 50% of their stupidity (but they are too stupid to know they are stupid) we are consigning future generations to intolerable hardship.

The current generation of kids and future grandchildren will not forgive them and will refer to them as Granny and Granddad Moron.

One solution I have come up with to avert severe climate change (why hasn’t anyone else thought of this?) was to coral the 50% of people who don’t get it and drown them.  Sorted !


TV Documentaries worth watching tonight

TV is often disappointing, full of soaps, game shows and repeats but tonight we have a treat. 

Two documentaries deal with problems that every one of us will face and be impacted by. 

The first is by the excellent Horizon team and hosted be the venerable Sir David Attenborough  – How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?  on Wednesday 9th december 2009 on BBC 2 at 9 pm.

I have mentioned before about the potential crisis that over population will bring to our planet but there are ways to tackle the problem if we recognise it and we act.  See the documentary and let me know your thoughts.

The Second is Hot Planet on BBC1 at 10:45 pm.  Presenter-scientists Iain Stewart and Kathy Sykes round up the best current wisdom on climate change and look at the implications.  This ties in well with the Copenhagen summit and should provide enough real evidence for all of the climate change deniers out there, although I don’t expect them to change their opinions.  Again, watch it and let me know your thoughts.

Copenhagen Climate Summit Begins

With the Copenhagen Climate Summit under way I will be following proceedings and commenting here.

But already I feel that its is a waste of time.   The climate change deniers continue to put self interest or a misguided belief in some kind of conspiracy ahead of the future of human kind and without a global consensus it seems unlikely that any real and significant reduction in CO2 emissions will be made.

For a moment imagine what daily life will be like in 2109 if the worst case scenarios of climate change come about.  I hear you saying that you wont be around in 2109 so why worry, well if you have children then they and their children will be trying to live in those times.

Global warming effects will cause more extremes and not be evenly distributed around the planet.  So in some places sea levels will rise more than others, hot places will get hotter, possibly too hot for us to live outside.   Expect long droughts, food shortages, floods, killer heat waves, super hurricanes, and a run away effect that no technology can stop.   Let your imagination free to consider the catastrophe that is possible and then decide if global warming is something you should do something about now.

Avatar the Movie

I thought I would share this trailer for the new film Avatar which will be released in December 2009.   Even from the trailer the theme of the film is clear, the bad guys – that’s us – invade a planet with an indigenous population which we intend to plunder for a rare natural resource and end up going to war.  Sound familiar?

I guess in the future we will still be acting in the same selfish ways, after all a leaopard doesn’t change its spots.

Sounds like a great film and I can’t wait to see it.
Let me know what you think?

Blog posts to come

I have been tied up recently but I hope to be blogging regularly again shortly.

I have some blog topics that I am particularly keen to write about:

  • Policing in the 21st Century
  • Future housing, design and supply
  • The next financial crash
  • 2012 and all that “end of the world” stuff
  • Make your own products
  • Micro energy generation and storage for all
  • Open source everything
  • Democracy dilution
  • More comments on topical science from the popular journals

So please come back regularly for these blog posts.

Short Term Brains Causes Global Warming

More on the climate change debate and the myth that predictions of a short period of global cooling by some scientists undermines the whole weight of evidence for long term global warming trends. Are we just victims of our evolved short term brains? That many “just don’t get it” seems to prove it.

This New Scientist http://bit.ly/NZLTb article explains the myth and my take on it is bellow.

We seek constant reassurances about our personal safety and we look around for information, hints and clues that we are safe. This is part of our natural defences, a throw back to a time when we would stalk the prey we needed to eat or foraged in places often occupied by animals that would prey on us.

In the 21st Century our senses key to our environment and its stability, we lookout for extreme weather and financial and job security rather than tigers, snakes and crocodiles. This in part explains why we both fear global warming and many at the same time deny it.

How can we feel safe or spurred to action when one set of experts are telling us that the world climate is changing and getting warmer and another is telling us its getting colder? Even our own senses seem at odds with the global warming advocates, I even had to put my central heating on briefly in August!

Global Warming is a long term problem that needs us to act now if we are to have any chance to prevent the dire consequences. However, to do so will have a significant effect on our lifestyle and possibly even our jobs and financial security.

We are conditioned to react to the immediate threats and as Global Warming does not seem to offer an immediate threat we can easily dismiss it if we chose. In contrast the immediate threat to our lifestyle, jobs and financial security comes from the proponents of action on Global Warming and climate change. Ironically we spend billions on preparing for a future war we hope never comes and we spend billions on insurance to pay for disasters which again we hope will never happen to us.

Global Warming on the other hand is a threat that we can reasonably scientifically predict will happen and we can estimate the timing and costs to some degree, yet we fail to grasp this and fail to provide the billions necessary to prevent it happening and prepare for the worst case scenarios. This is illogical but a function of our short term brains. Wars have happened and natural disasters have happened in our lifetimes and we remember them but Global Warming has not.

If we dont watch out we will become labelled by future historians as the civilisation that had the short term vision and inadequate action plan on Global Warming that led to its demise. When it did see day to day evidence of a Global Warming crisis it was just too late and too expensive to fix. Sad.

Does Crowd Prediction Work?

On Friday Derren Brown claimed that he used a “crowd” of 24 people to help him select the Wednesday UK Lottery draw numbers. He presented them with a sequence of past numbers and then he asked them to close their eyes and doodle on a piece of paper, a process called automatic writing. He collected the papers, some had written numbers, and he averaged them to derive a set of 6 numbers. He did not show the 24 people in the room what the numbers were and he sealed them in a container and took them to a nearby empty studio. You can see what happened in the blog posts below, a youtube of the event is available.

It has been shown that crowds can predict things and it has been tried with stock market predictions, however, I would think that 24 people is not enough of a crowd to predict anything sensible.

It is a belief of The Axion that crowd prediction works but some thousands of people are needed. It is hoped that in time The Axion will attract thousands of subscribers to the blog and then real crowd prediction can be tried.

In the mean time readers will have to make do with the predictions of The Axion which are pretty good anyway.

For fun I will see if The Axion can predict lottery numbers using deep mathematical analysis of past lotto numbers and I will post the selection here on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays

Derren Brown Did iT ! But How?

Derren Brown correctly predicted last Wednesdays national lottery numbers and there are many theory’s on his blog site (even one from me). Tonight he will tell us how he did it. Was it a trick, a slight of hand? A camera trick using freeze frame of half the televised image? A mathematical calculation? A psychic ability? Or something more sinister? Watch his show on UK channel 4 at 9 pm. http://bit.ly/10QA88

Watch Derren predict the numbers here on YouTube