Game Developers Conference Day One

GDC is a healthy event, vibrant and full of activity. It’s clear that many companies pour resources into this show, with Google giving away 250 Xoom tablets on Tuesday, and multiple companies staging extravagant after-parties.

TDVision has been working on our S3D Gaming technology, TDVirtualCam since 2003 with great results. It is very gratifying to see the gaming industry begin to massively adopt S3D gaming technology in the home. I hit the show floor to check out the latest and greatest in the field.

The first thing I was interested in looking at was the Nintendo 3DS. I was able to snap a picture using my Fuji 3D Camera (graciously provided by Fuji) to take a picture of the auto-stereoscopic screen of the 3DS in 3D. Here is an anaglyph render of Capcom’s 3DS Street Fighter game.

I enjoy the 3DS, it has a built in 3D camera, can play 3D content, and takes social networking to a new level. That being said, I do find the graphics a bit lacking, and I would have been happier to see a more powerful graphics chip in the device like the Imagination Technologies GPU found in the OMAP 5.

However, this was simply my first hands on demo. I am expecting a review unit, and it’s quite possible that I will revise my opinion on the graphics capabilities, as I spend more time with the software and hardware.

I went to a talk on the creation of the Nintendo 3DS that was pretty good. We all wore earpieces to translate Mr. Kono’s talk from Japanese.

Here is a picture of me with Nintendo of America (NOA) CEO Reggie Fils-Aime. Reggie refused to have his picture taken with my Fuji camera, insisting that any 3D pictures of him must be taken with a 3DS. That being the case, here is me and Reggie in 2D!

Want to see what the 3DS looked like as it was being developed? This is an image of a modified Wii using a prototype 3D screen.

I had a lot of meetings today, and it was pretty busy. I did find time to pick up some freebies, and I must say GDC has some of the best swag out there.

There were a few after-events today, like Women in Gaming International (WIGI), World of Tanks party, and a strange one at Jillians at the Metreon, a Toga party. No I did not put on a toga.

CES Day 3

Quick 6:40 AM update for CES day 3.

Having misplaced my Fuji W3 camera charger, I spent some time dashing to different 3D related exhibits to see if they had a charger I could pop the battery into. Following an epiphany, I simply navigated to the Fuji exhibit and left the battery with them to charge.

One pair of XpanD loaner glasses was lost today bringing the total to two. We decided against tying the glasses to anything because this is too restraining and messy, because of this we have to expect a certain level of attrition no matter how high our monitoring diligence. In fact this year we have been far more successful than last year where 4 glasses were lost in the first day alone.

While I was busy in meetings the entire day, I did get a chance to acquire passive glasses from Marchon (Calvin Klein branded), 3DBlick, iCoat Sfirex, and Look 3D. All that is left to try to get a hold of is the Oakley 3D glasses. I’m thinking I’ll do some tests with a densitometer and post the results.

On CES day 4 I’ll start the blogging with the charged W3 battery at the Fuji exhibit. I’ll find time to walk the floor to the Sony exhibit, go more in depth with different camera and display technology, and possibly crawl the meetings rooms in the Hilton for hidden gems.

If I move really fast I may even be able to make it to the North hall, to see the rumored 3D tablet. I’ll be interested to see the level of crosstalk that comes from such closely spaced lines on the row interleaved polarizing filter, as well as if the device has an S3D user interface, how one can touch controls in negative parallax without it feeling unnatural.

CES Day 2

Some may say that at 4:41 AM it is technically day 3, but let’s say that CES “days” start when the show opens at 9AM. It’s really cool to see the people that I see all the time tightly suited up and very serious, completely let loose and enjoy their time in Las Vegas after hours. S3D people know how to party!

CES Day two started out with a major catastrophe. One of our XpanD universal loaner glasses had gone missing, clearly this was a case of theft, or alternatively, an absent minded person getting a cellphone call while viewing the content, placing the glasses on their forehead during the call and wandering off, forgetting they were wearing them. I’ll give this absent minded person the benefit of the doubt regarding the possible cause of the disappearance.

I do also except that it is very difficult for our professional spokeswoman to keep her two eyes on ten pairs of glasses for ten hours straight. We devised to make a sign reminding people not to take the glasses. Below you will see Kara, one pair of glasses short, and looking sorry and ashamed.

The ultimate responsibility for the lost pair of XpanD glasses lies with me. It is up to me to break the news to Maria Costeira, CEO of XpanD. Here is Maria, pictured below with TDVision Systems CEO, Manuel Gutierrez Novelo, before I gather my strength to break the devastating news to her.

In order to remedy things, I make a solemn promise that before the week is done, I will change my LinkedIn profile picture from one of me, (from 2007 with more hair) wearing passive glasses, to an all new picture of me at the show wearing the new XpanD YOUNIVERSAL glasses AKA, my own personalized, capitalized, no-compromise 3D specs”.

I got a chance to finally walk the central hall later in the day. My first visit was to Intel, to chat with their resident futurists, and view their 3D offerings. I must say what is available at this time only barely scratches the surface of what powerful Intel processors can achieve for the stereoscopic eco-system from capture, encoding, transmission and display. That’s why I’m glad Intel employs minority-report type technology “precogs” that are readying for an exponential increase in S3D workflow efficiency.

My next visit was to the Mitsubishi exhibit, I was so happy to encounter the 92″ 3D DLP television. Oh yes it is quite large. I’m quite far back when taking this picture with my arm fully extended vertically.

My goodness, look at the LG Display! It is massive, and it has all sorts of Displays, LED, OLED, Projector, Monitor, Laptop, running passive 3D, just pop on your glasses on everywhere you care to look you see 3D, I can sit close to one display, and perceive 3D images that seem to have a less powerful, depth effect, yet look more rounded and realistic, and simply glance down the hall to another display far away to perceive 3D images that seem to have a strong, elongated depth effect.

I was quite concerned about a serious human factor issue that struck me unexpectedly. A very curious condition appeared in my two eyes that, while only lasting a maximum of five minutes, led to around 2 hours of hypochondria, nervousness, and obsessive googling on my cellphone. In the picture below, taken by concerned citizen and maverick CEO Gina Tanner of Digital Revolution Studios, shows the tail end of one of my pupils being much more dilated than the other.

At this point I am very much regretting all the bragging I had done last Tuesday, showing off the fusional ability of my supple eyes by creating absurdly enormous parallax values both negative and positive of an anaglyph image, smiling and laughing as I retained stereopsis as the stereopair gradually separated far beyond the “Do no Harm” red-line.

Strange since I hadn’t worn pulfrich glasses, or in any way occluded one eye, or inhibited the light intake of one vs. the other.

I immediately entered self diagnostic mode. Visual Acuity: Check. Vergence function across several randomly selected horoptic areas: Fully operational. I suppose I shall consult an ophthalmologist when I return. Even though the issue seemed to have cleared after five minutes, I certainly appeared the strange fellow as I earnestly asked a woman handing out tote-bags, “excuse me, would you mind informing me if one of my pupils seems to be larger than the other? No you say? Oh thank you, I’m not partial to that bag but please enjoy the rest of the show”

I looked up from my frantic ocular googling, and found my self in the immense area that was the Panasonic showcase. A large pharaoh like Avatar figure dominated the landscape, spear in hand, the creature’s strangely familiar, unevenly dilated pupils, inspiring fear and awe in all those who dared to approach it to view 3D out of it’s myriad shutter-glasses tipped tentacles.

Respectfully taking my leave of the powerful effigy, I returned to the Toshiba exhibit mentioned in the Day Zero and  Day One this time determined to see the glasses free displays, without waiting in the very long and very slow line that wound its way around the exhibit.

I approached the rear-exit of the exhibit. Producing my press credentials , and adopting a very professional and no-nonsense journalistic facade, I implemented my entitlement-related declarations, which prompted the guard to deferentially lift the red barrier rope and usher me inside without delay.

Once inside I realized there were more lines, these lines were to view the laptop displays which use eye tracking to initialize what seemed to be an LCD based parallax barrier. I became increasingly frustrated as the people in front of me asked increasingly silly questions. Finally it was my turn! I must say, the small laptop wasn’t my cup of tea, in fact I really wasn’t able to appreciate any amount of depth. With people behind me, I realized that maybe the people before me weren’t asking silly questions and maybe this device simply isn’t working properly at this time. I decided to move on and take a look at the actual autostereo displays.

Around the corner the large displays were there, rumored to be of 8k resolution and coming in 56″ and 65″ inch, I made sure to stand on the yellow shoe imprint markings on the floor to observe from the correct angle. I’m not sure how many views this display has, I’ve heard 2 and I’ve heard 4. In any case, clearly this is the best NG3D (No Glasses 3D) display I have seen so far. However, these displays still exhibit shifts when traversing viewing zones and artifacts when in between them.

Unlike high quality and real-time 2D to 3D conversion, I believe it may be possible to have auto-stereoscopic displays that are ready for prime time in the home before I own a flying car. Nevertheless, I’m going to err on the side of unexpected innovation and cut my estimated time frame for large NG3D televisions in the home from 20 to 10 years.

This being the case, I’ll hope that companies can be responsible when speaking of NG3D displays in the home, lest consumers say “I’m going to hold off on buying that Full HD 3D television set because company X promises no glasses 3D right around the corner” Weren’t panoramagrams right around the corner at the close of the 19 century?

Below see a picture of the display. I’m actually taking all of the pictures with my Fuji W3 camera, graciously loaned to me by Fuji, however I haven’t figured out how to post MPO formatted files so I’ve been using the 2D jpegs and anaglyph for this website. If you happen to have any anaglyph glasses, (I like anachrome) you can see this S3D pic that I took of the Toshiba NG3D display. Well that’s kind of neat, if I don’t have to wear glasses when imaging 3D then my camera doesn’t need to either! (Sorry about the large reflection on the display, I haven’t mastered my Fuji W3 settings just yet)

I’m not one who eschews glasses. The opposite! I am in favor of MORE stuff mounted on the face. That’s why I had to check out the latest 1280×1024 OLED revision prototype of the Vusix eyewear, clearly a prototype, this SXGA unit didn’t have the sleek housing of the low-rez models, and the optics showed noticeable warping around the edges of the frame.

The Vusix folks remembered me and TDVision from our work on the groundbreaking TDVisor HMD, and to this day I have not experienced it’s equal in pixel density, brightness, clarity, and effect.

Wrapping up my tour of the show floor I will post below a self-explanatory image:

At TDVision, one thing we really enjoy at the large tradeshows like CES and NAB, is turning our exhibit into a geek friendly, S3D lounge after hours.

Here is TDVision CEO Manuel R. Gutierrez Novelo, with a stereoscopic pioneer and brain-trust Michael Starks of 3DTV Corp, using his stereo-geometrical expertise to help us out in inspecting a certain content real that for some reason I can’t place seems to pinch my brain in a funny way.

Finally we have as our guest the author and stereoscopic expert Bernard Mendiburu, of Volfoni with Bob Johnston, who was featured in the Day 1 post, and is the international director of the 3D Film Festival of which I am happy to sit on the board.

Wow, look at that, it’s almost seven. I’d better get an hour of sleep, my eyes need rest if they are going to remain stereo-acute and dilation matched!

–Ethan Daniel Schur

CES Day One

CES is a vibrant tradeshow. Numerous wonders, curiosities, and engaging concepts assault show-goers when navigating this temporary technology village housed in the long halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

This morning we arrived earlier to setup the TDVision area of the Sisvel exhibit in South Hall Lower 20537, briefed our product spokeswomen and exhibit magician (there is a magician in our area), and start playing 3D content encoded in the TDVision 2D+Delta format.

Special thanks to XpanD for providing their universal 3D active glasses for us to use at the show. We are very watchful to make sure that none get stolen. In fact we didn’t lose one pair today at all which is impressive considering the attrition rate we achieved last year averaged 1-2 stolen per-day.

The content was provided by a very talented studio I.E. Effects. Pictured below is I.E Effects stereoscopic producer Sarah Bavero standing next to our display.

I mentioned in the day zero post that there were multiple glasses manufacturers represented at the show, here you can see me pictured wearing the Volfoni glasses. These glasses house some of the IC components of the Active glasses in an external little box the size of an ipod shuffle, making the glasses very light. They also have a polarization layer so the glasses can work for both active and passive displays at the same time, at the expense of a certain small amount of light loss.

When I got a break between meetings, I linked up with Michael Starks from 3DTV Corp to walk the central hall, see the sights, and grill him on the Euclidean and or non-Euclidean nature of perceptual space.

As we set out we bumped into Eric Kurland from 3-DIY (3D Do-it-yourself) who took a picture of us with his cool new DIY rig as we took a picture of him.

On our journey to the south hall we were waylaid many times, I was in fear that I would never see the Toshiba glasses-free display. One exhibit that caught our attention was the Hungarian startup iPONT with their glasses free display pictured below playing the Avatar trailer.

Some of the distractions, I was in a hurry to move on from, like the myriad of passive glasses distributors and manufacturers.

There were sideshows along the way that were simply comical, like the Chinese television manufacturer TCL who in one display, was playing their content flipped pseudo-scopically. The booth babe handing out the glasses seemed frustrated and had clearly given up telling people to take the counter-intuitive step of wearing their passive glasses upside-down, and simply handed out the glasses to show-goers, probably hoping for this gig to be over soon.

CES is great for stereoscopic professionals these days. It’s still a smallish community and walking the floor one can run into many great colleagues. Below is Greg Passmore and the crew from Passmore Lab. Passmore has created some very enjoyable and award winning content lately including The Extreme Nature of Bats and Microworlds.

When we finally made it to the Toshiba exhibit to see the glasses free display, the line was very long, snaking through around the exhibit. Clearly I could not wait in the line and make my next meeting. I only was able to peer in from a distance. Below is the extent of what I saw. I’ll have to wait in line when it isn’t that long, maybe flash my press pass and try to get cut-sies.

I had to hurry back to my exhibit to make a meeting, but not before a warm reunion with the most talented professional spokeswoman in Las Vegas (and on the planet), Jacqueline. Jacqueline, is always so full of energy, and is practically an expert on 3D at this point. We have been working with Jacqueline since 2007. Everybody wish her a happy birthday as January 7th is that special day for Jacqueline!

The rest of the day at the show was full of busy meetings.

After the event, and a nice Italian dinner, we ran into Bob Johnston who showed us a really cool integral camera he is exclusively representing in the western hemisphere.

Originally created to be used by the European Space Agency, the 3D-One camera really impressed me. It has a Linux sub-system, a fixed stereo-base with controls for vergence and zoom. The camera has dual oled viewfinders which can be mounted in different parts of the camera body magnetically. It records to multiple formats including dual AVI on a removable hard disk.

Here are some pictures of Bob Johnston and me with the unit.

That’s it for day one. On day two I’ll do a visual exhibit tour of the XpanD area. I hope to take a look at Panasonic and maybe, if I sprint, I can make it all the way to the North hall, where I hear LG has an impressive showcase.

CES 2011 Day 0

The exhibits don’t open yet until tomorrow, however it is clear that 3D is a major topic at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year.

Sony3DFlags

I noticed the 3D@Home TechZone was smaller this year than last, a colleague mentioned that this may be a good thing, as 3D is ubiquitous now, it may not need to be constrained to a single zone.

TDVision Systems, is exhibiting at the Sisvel area in South Hall Lower Level 20537. Please come and see us and chat with me personally. You can learn more about our CES2011 activities by reading this press release.

Much chatter has surrounded the glasses-free display by Toshiba. Some say that it looks quite good, while others say Toshiba does a disservice to the S3D community by heightening consumer expectations for a technology that isn’t ready for the home. I’ll be very interested to see for myself.

Also on the autostereo front, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled of course for the Nintendo 3DS portable gaming device.

As far as glasses themselves are concerned there are a plethora of offerings from XpanD, Volfoni, BitCauldron, and 3DTV corp on the active side as well as Marchon, 3DBlick and others.

The Panasonic area is massive and it’s going to be great looking at all the new Full HD 3D televisions on the show floor. None of the devices were turned on today because everybody was setting up their exhibits.

This is the sixth year TDVision has been at CES, when we first started it seemed that we were the only company showing 3D in the entire show! The difference in 2011 is astounding. I’ve got to get some rest for the first day of a show packed with meetings, 3D learning, and fun.

-Ethan Daniel Schur

I will be blogging from CES 2011

I’m going to attempt daily S3D related posts from the floor of the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. My new press pass will help me with this endeavor.

Press Pass

International Press Credentials Provided by the National Writers Union

International 3D Society Lumiere Awards for 3D Technology

Tuesday saw a gala event at the Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, where the International 3D Society awarded the winners of this year’s 3D Technology Lumiere Awards.

The Lumiere is beautiful gold dipped statuette, made by the same company that crafts the Oscar’s, The Lumiere is a backward bending muse, wearing 3D glasses.

The Lumiere Award

The event was well covered in 3D with a giant jib holding a red beam splitter rig, provided by Digital Revolution Studios.

3D Content was shown from the 1890’s and 1930’s with the Lumiere Brother’s “Arrival of the Train” 2D original and 1930s 3D remake.

Also there was a tribute to Harold Lloyd which included a remastered, colorized, and 3D converted clip from the 1923 classic “safety last”

The awards were interspersed with 3D clips from different studios and of course acceptance speeches.

The full list of award winners can be seen by clicking the link above.

Here are some images from the event. We may need an .mpo format support on this blog so we don’t have to share images in anaglyph. It might make sense to simply add links for the .mpo so people can view the images in any S3D format.

Dave Cook, Chief 3D Vision Software Architect at NVIDIA, with stereographer Sasha Paperny

Chuck Comisky, (right) was in charge of S3D VFX on AVATAR, seen here with myself

Myself with Josh Greer, President and Co-Founder, RealD

Steve Hines of HinesLab won the award for his crucial innovation of the over / under beam splitter rig configuration that prevails today.

Robert Neuman, Stereoscopic Supervisor at Walt Disney Animation Studios

Author and Stereoscopic Historian Ray Zone, Lead Stereographer at Sony Imageworks Rob Engle, 3D pioneer Lenny Lipton, and others on the red carpet.

This was a fantastic event, the I3DS also puts on an event called 3D University which is very helpful and will be covered in a separate post in the future.