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November 2009 Archives

November 1, 2009

Sketch3D is Etch-A-Sketch in the Third Dimension

Gizmodo highlights the release of Sketch 3D a system you can use to generate 3D anaglyph line drawings in real time.

3D_Etch_a_Sketch.jpg

Built to resemble the familiar Etch-A-Sketch toy this version has three dials. The first two are the traditional drawing cursors. The third one controls the z-axis. This is the depth axis, extending the user-generated content (wire frame line art) into the third dimension. To see the effect in the screen capture below, you'll need a pair of red-blue or red-cyan anaglyph glasses.

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Gizmodo Gallery 2009: Etch-a-Sketch 3D from Core77 on Vimeo.

November 19, 2009

3D ColorCode 3D Game Online, PONGTRIS, a combination of Pong and Tetris

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A recent commenter brought this browser-based Flash game, PongTris3D that uses the ColorCode 3D system to our attention. . . though they are careful to state that "This site has been developed internally by Gadget Productions and does not currently use the patented ColorCode system."

In order to see the 3D effect you'll need a pair of ColorCode blue-amber glasses. Even though their opening animation seems to depict a pair of red-blue glasses.

I have to admit that the notion of a patented system for an anaglyph format seems counter-productive to me. Open standards spread application development and adoption.

3dGP_pongtris.jpg

There's also fierce debate —raised voices, emails written in ALL CAPS — over the quality of blue-amber anaglyphs over red-cyan anaglyphs. One issue certainly is the the lower market penetration of blue-amber glasses and their current higher price over the de facto red-cyan standard.

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November 20, 2009

3D Gaming – Another Path to the Home 3D Experience? from Vision Nov./Dec. 2009

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I was cruising around the Meant to Be Seen 3D site, a forum for 3D video gamers, and came across this link to a magazine with a very nice web implementation, Vision published by the Consumer Electronics Association.

The article to read is "Video Games Pave the Way for 3D Homes."

Vision_3Dvideo_article300px.jpg

The best quote comes from James Cameron, "My prediction is that games are going to be as important as movies in driving the 3D experience into the home." Below is a parallel pair screen shot from the upcoming Avatar 3D video game. The original image is a monster 3,360 X 1,050 pixel file and the amount of detail is very impressive.

Avatar_3Dgame_500px.jpg

Fuji Finepix 3D W1: New User Report — 3D without Film, Glasses or Photoshop

“. . .You take a picture of your neighbor’s dog and within seconds you are viewing that same image in full color 3D — without glasses — on the back of your camera.”

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Here’s an anaglyph I made from images taken by the new Fuji Finepix 3D W1, the world’s first twin-lens digital 3D camera (with two 10 MP CCD sensors). The subject is a neighbor’s dog, a Golden Retriever puppy named Bailey.

I’ve only had the camera for a few days, so please take these comments as preliminary thoughts.

Objectively, I have to say that if you are a 3D shooter OMG! you’ve-gotta-go-out-and-BUY-THE-FUJI-W1-before-you-finish-reading-this-sentence!!

If you are not among the small percentage of photographers who already shoot 3D with digital twin rigs or film cameras, you’ll probably want to learn a little more.

Here’s their press release on the well-respected Digital Photography Review site.

Here’s a stunningly negative review titled, “Fuji W1 3D Camera. . .The Worst Camera Ever Made” from the Akihabara Live from Japan news site. Followed by a more temperate review after Akihabara’s staff was contacted by FUJI. TIME magazine weighs in and lists the FUJI W1 as one of the 50 Best Inventions of 2009.

A great source of information from people who have the camera and are exploring its possibilities is the Fuji3D Yahoo Group started by Linda Nygren.

If your interest runs to Stereo Macros, check out this attachment made partly of Erector set parts by Donald E. Simanek, here.

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For Mac OS X users, check out Mike's Stereoscopic Web Site. In addition to lots of useful information he provides versions of his program, 3D Slide Maker for Tiger, Leopard and Snow Leopard users. The Snow Leopard version provides support for .MPO files.

The Challenge! REAL 3D and Mac web site by Junji Ikeda offers a program he created called Stereo Splicer that works with Mac OS 10.4 or later to separate out the Left and Right images in an .MPO file and produce anaglyphs, parallel and cross-view pairs.

Another Mac option is the cross-platform Java program Stereomerger by Geir Øyvind Vælidalo.

There are some intriguing two lens options aside from the 3D, but the main selling point of this camera is the 3D. Examples of what FUJI calls Advanced 2D Twin Camera Mode where each lens takes the same picture with different options: color settings, ISO settings, zoom and non-zoom. Interesting, but clearly not why anyone would buy this camera.

FUJI_W1_3D_camera.jpg

There’s no viewfinder on the W1, like many digital point-and-shoots, so you view your 3D and frame it on the rear screen, 2.25 wide by 1.75 inches high.

This is one of the things that Fuji got right on this 1.0 version. The screen has crisp, clean color and displays the picture you took just a moment ago in color and 3D.

Though to be sure, the screen’s small sweet spot makes it a single user experience. A shift of say, five degrees in either direction while viewing your pictures and the 3D effect vanishes and your image collapses into ordinary 2D.

Let me repeat, what I think is the major selling point to the general audience, you take a picture of your neighbor’s dog and within seconds you are viewing that same image in full color 3D — without glasses — on the back of your camera.

Given the history of all previous 3D cameras that have required post processing and a degree of skill to get best results, this almost instant 3D color display feels revolutionary, not evolutionary.

Want to know how this display works? See this explanation (with diagrams) on Dimension Technologies web site.

Size, weight and form factor: The W1 weighs about 11 oz. with battery and SD card inside. It’s 4.9 X 2.7 X 1.0 inches, the case is metal, so think chunkier, heavier iPhone. The left lens is at the extreme edge of the camera face and this means the W1 must be held by it’s edges. Is there some technical reason that the lenses and the flash couldn't be centered on the camera's face?

This can be a major adjustment from handling a traditional single lens camera, but hey, it’s 3D — it’s worth it. After a while you won’t even think about it.

Lack of internal battery to maintain settings: a small minus. If the camera’s battery runs out you’ll lose your initial stored settings for language, date and time. My suggestion: buy a second FUJI NP-95 battery for $30 and get this $9 charger from Amazon: Maximal Power FC600 Rapid Travel Charger for Fuji Battery.

Fuji_battery_charger.jpg

Also, the camera fits nicely in the $9.00 Case Logic # TBC303 Black case with a zippered storage pocket on the front that neatly holds an additional battery and SD cards.

Image quality: Too soon to tell, if I am honest. I suspect that my Canon twin-rig of two 7 MP SD 1000’s takes better images in a wider range of settings. But I’ve yet to subject that to direct comparison. It may just be that I’m more familiar with how to optimize the Canon settings.

In addition, my twin rig occasionally goes out of sync and must be restarted. That sync issue does not occur with this new Fuji. And the W1 is significantly smaller than my twin-rig and has no sharp edges (unlike my twin rig).

One thing I notice when using the flash — some of my images have been subject to the small, glowing disc shapes that amateur ghost hunters point to in snap shots as mystery orbs of psychic energy. But are, in reality, just the flash inadvertently catching dust motes in the air, and reflecting back the light.

Could the fact that the flash is centered between the two lenses instead of above (or even off-camera) be the reason this happens? I don’t experience this effect with my other digital cameras, shooting in the same environments.

Menus, Settings and Camera Controls: Well executed and similar to the typical digital point-and-shoot camera format. I’m more familiar with Canon and Nikon interfaces, but this one seems well thought out. The controls are on both sides of the LCD screen, three buttons a side. These buttons toggle to double the number of features you can access.

The negative review cited above claims, “I struggled for hours to understand how to set the ISO and I had to read the user’s manual (lame).” Surely this is an exaggeration. Hours of struggling? RTFM. To change the ISO you press the F-Mode Menu (lower right hand topggle) and ISO is the first option on a Menu that includes Image Size, Image Quality, White Balance, Exposure Compensation & FinePix Color Settings.

Yes, it is a horrible shortcoming that you might actually have to refer to a single page in the manual that comes with your new camera.

In addition to the functions you’d expect to find on a digital camera — Menu, OK, Trash, Macro, Flash Mode, Video, Display, etc. — there’s a toggle switch to go from 2D to 3D mode and, most striking of all, Parallax Control. This enables you to change the parallax during playback to adjust the stereo window. However, you have to go through too many hoops and menus to save a copy of your new window adjustment, IMO.

Besides, for viewing your images off the W1, you’ll probably want to make more adjustments with a program like the free Windows program, Stereo Photo Maker or a major image editing monster like Photoshop.

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Another new digital image file format .MPO It should be made clear that Fuji uses a new .MPO file format to store your stereo image pair. It’s a proposed standard for storing more than one JPEG in a single file. So .MPO is not strictly proprietary, just very, very new.

This combined JPEG format has applications outside of 3D, like bracketing exposures and High Dynamic Range photography. The MPO file format is limiting. Currently no major image editor will correctly open an .MPO file into its two component right and left JPEG’s. What you get when you can open them, is a single JPEG, the image taken by the left lens.

Stereo Photo Maker has recently been updated to open .MPO files. On the Mac side, there is no comparable software at any price. There are new programs to open .MPO for Mac users coming out, like SplitMPO (and the examples above). It’s my hope these will increase.

And with all the photographers (and families) that use Macs, why hasn’t a cross-platform or Mac only program as good as SPM been developed? Maybe the Fuji W1 will inspire some Mac code monkeys to rise to this challenge.

.MPO format only allows JPEGs, so you’ve already lost image information, right? A RAW option for each right and left image would be a great improvement. But perhaps this would mean little to the average point-and-shoot customer and was never even considered as an option. Even allowing the option to natively save the separate JPEG images would be a step in a more open direction.

FUJI has an interest in driving users of the W1 towards their stereo processing options: lenticular prints and an optional digital picture frame, the FinePix REAL 3D V1 Viewer, that at $500 is nearly as expensive as the camera itself (at $600).

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You really need more than a single stereo pair to make a decent lenticular print so the process seems inherently flawed. I haven’t seen one of these prints but the word coming back from those who have is disappointing. This service is being offered by FUJIFILM’s SeeHere Photo Sharing site and the cost is $6.99 per print (they don’t indicate the size). That price seems like it’s set up to discourage, rather than encourage orders.

The digital picture frame model is surely the better path towards a general, as opposed to specialist market. No need for any ‘work’ by the photographer. Pop your SD card in the FUJI frame and enjoy a slide show in full color 3D with no glasses required! That’s what the Average Snap Shot Taking family, party and vacation photographer wants. Or so Fuji hopes. . .

As with the prints I haven’t seen the FUJI Viewer. Sight unseen, I still think the price point should be lower for this. However, this seems to me like the right track to a broader audience. Digital picture frames are already established in the marketplace. The move everywhere is away from print to digital, so perhaps FUJI thinks there will be only a small market segment that actually wants physical prints of their 3D images. I think they may be right about this.

Given the resurgence of 3D in the movie marketplace, is it too much to hope for success for this camera? So that there may be future models with additional small refinements?

FUJI certainly makes the 3D shooting experience open to the great majority of digital camera users; people who would be unlikely to invest the time in processing two film or digital images into 3D, as every other system requires. The owner of the FUJI W1 doesn’t have to post process their pictures at all. It’s done for you by the W1’s software.

3D without glasses, film or Photoshop! I’d call that revolutionary.

Fireplace_500px.jpg

Fireplace anaglyph made with stereo pair taken with FUJI W1’s Slow Synchro Flash Mode setting.

About November 2009

This page contains all entries posted to New York Stereoscopic Society in November 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2009 is the previous archive.

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