3D-News Archive June 2005

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The Special Effects of DarKastle
3D-News Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 (14:10 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

Animation powerhouse Super 78 supplied the 3D magic for one of the most technologically sophisticated, visually rich and thrilling theme park experiences ever produced Curse of the DarKastle debuting this season at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The spectacular next generation attraction, which takes thrill-seekers on a bone-chilling journey through a frozen Bavarian castle, is a dark ride in which patrons travel through the 40,000 square foot castle environment in computer-controlled, motion-based sleighs as rear-projected, 3D imagery appears all around them. Integration of the 3D effects with the ride's physical set, the state-of-the-art motion of the cars, 5.1 surround sound and 4D environmental effects is taken to new heights, providing park patrons with a totally immersive experience that is beyond compare.

Super 78 produced all of the stereoscopic 3D imagery featured in the ride as well as the cleverly executed pre-ride film that introduces patrons to the sinister King Ludwig. Attraction architect Cecil Magpuri of Florida-based Falcons Treehouse designed the ride. Oceaneering Entertainment Systems, also of Florida, was the project engineer.

Unlike many theme park attractions, Curse of the DarKastle is not based on any preexisting story or characters, but rather is wholly original. King Ludwig, the central figure in the tale, is a bloodthirsty ghost bent on recruiting others to join him in the hereafter. For the 3 minutes and 40 seconds of the rides duration he pursues patrons through the castle’s haunted chambers with cunning, ruthlessness and diabolical zeal. They escape but barely.

The ride is replete with eye-popping 3D effects. Swords, knives and sundry other objects swoop toward riders heads. The sleighs are jostled by a boulder that rolls out of the screen. Riders are pelted with wind and snow. The ride also features one nerve-rattling drop, although a CG-induced illusion makes it seem as though the sleigh is plummeting farther and faster than it actually is.

"Busch Gardens wanted an experience that was world-class, that would blow people away," said Super 78 managing director Dina Benadon, with the best 3D anyone has ever seen.

In order to fulfill that request, Super 78 assembled a production team with A-list experience in location-based entertainment. Benadon and Super 78 creative director Brent Young had previously contributed to such ground-breaking attractions as Seafari for the MCA Universal theme park in Japan, Star Trek: The Experience for the Las Vegas Hilton and Race for Atlantis for Caesar’s Palace. Additionally, they tapped as animation director Mario Kamberg, whose previous credits include The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera and Jimmy Neutron’s: Nicktoon Blast for Universal Studios in Orlando. 3D specialist Chuck Comisky (James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss, Terminator 2-3D) was brought into assist with the stereoscopic effects.

What separates Curse of the DarKastle from other rides is the way the 3D effects interact with and occur on all sides of the sleighs. When ghosts fire arrows at the patrons, they seem to whiz right by their heads. A tray of wine glasses that floats across a room seems to hover in mid-air just beyond reach.

"The sleighs have complete range of motion," explained Young. "They can move forward and back, tilt side to side and spin 360-degrees. You may be looking at one screen, when something hits the vehicle. It turns you in the opposite direction and suddenly you're facing another screen. It all happens very fast. You don't have time to say, I get it. I know how they're doing it."

Pulling off such heady illusions required especially tight collaboration between Super 78 animators, the rides design team and the vendors building the cars, the track and the ride environment."Before we began work on the animation, the engineers provided us with a ride profile that mapped out the physical environment down to the inch, as well as the precise timing and motion of the cars," explained Super 78 CG supervisor Aaron Powell. "We knew the physical parameters of the room and how the cars were oriented at every moment. From there, we went to work designing and executing the animation and dreaming up all of the 3D gags."

"The ride is designed to make it impossible to tell where reality ends and cinematic illusion begins. The physical sets were built and lit to match up perfectly with the CG so that the edges of the projection screens are invisible to riders. It all blends together," observed Young. "As a result, we were able to make it appear as though some of the rooms extend 40 or 50 feet with mountain-scapes appearing in the windows in the background. When you add in the 3D effects that appear to project out of the screens,
you get the feeling of being completely immersed. It's no longer a 3D film, it's a 3D environment."

"The technical complexities notwithstanding, Klamberg said that the greatest challenge in Curse of the DarKastle was creative. It is a family attraction and therefore it couldn't be frightening in a way that would be inappropriate for kids," he said. "Still it had to be entertaining to adults as they make up at least half of our audience."

"Pleasing both sides of the generational divide," said Klamberg, was a matter of good storytelling. It all comes down to the mood, the pacing, the ups and downs, the drama followed by the calm, the sense of what lies around the next corner?" he said. "The ride is a ballet of 3D. What separates this from other rides is the role of 3D. We rely less on fast action and more on depth, richness and quality. The quality of the film is very strong in the ride."

In order to insure that all of the effects worked to perfection, Super 78 set up a stereoscopic projection system in its Hollywood studio identical to those used in the ride. Animators made several trips to Florida for test rides in a prototype sleigh and mock up of the track. In the week's prior to launch, senior crew members visited Williamsburg to assist fabricators in making final tweaks and adjustments.

"Because Curse of the DarKastle has an original story, the pre-ride film assumed greater-than-normal importance. With most other rides, patrons arrive already familiar with the characters and the plot," explained Young. "Here they are meeting King Ludwig for the first time, so we had to introduce the characters, supply the whole back story and familiarize patrons with the environment they are about to enter."

The pre-ride film appears in an ante-room to the castle where patrons wait before boarding the sleighs. What appear to be tapestries hanging on the wall suddenly spring to life and relate the frightful history of Ludwig and his clan. Although patrons aren't yet wearing their stereoscopic glasses, Super 78 created an illusion of 3D by arraying 2D CG elements across a series of receding plains similar to a pop-up greeting card. Animators then used a virtual camera to travel through the tapestry and tour Ludwig's world.

"As Ludwig becomes progressively evil, the tapestry's imagery begins to degrade," noted Young. "Snakes and skulls appear. The fabric of the tapestry becomes old and rotten. Along the way, we provide hints at what lies inside the castle and what they can expect to see along the way. While the pre-show film makes patrons prepared to enter King Ludwig's world, there is no way they will be able to take in everything that awaits them inside the ride." "That, too," said Benadon, "is intentional. The attraction is so rich that patrons will have to ride it multiple times to get the full experience, she said. We're hoping that when people get off the ride, they'll turn around and get back in line."

The Walt Disney Studios and Dolby Bring Disney Digital 3-D(TM) to Selected Theaters Nationwide With 'Chicken Little' on Dolby Digital Cinema
3D-News Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 (13:58 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

In a Revolutionary Collaboration With Dolby Laboratories, Employing Dolby Digital Cinema Combined With Industrial Light & Magic's Proprietary Software Technology, Walt Disney Pictures Debuts New 3-D Technology With "Chicken Little", Its First All-CGI Animated Feature

Disney once again leads the film industry by introducing Disney Digital 3D(TM), a brand new, state-of-the-art technology providing the first true three-dimensional digital experience in movie theatres, with the highly anticipated movie Chicken Little to be released on November 4, 2005. In collaboration with Disney, Dolby Laboratories plans to install its Dolby® Digital Cinema systems in approximately 100 specially-selected, high-profile theatres in 25 top markets that will present the 3D film. Visual effects giant Industrial Light & Magic (a Lucasfilm Ltd. company) will render the movie in 3D so it can be played on Dolby Digital Cinema servers at selected theatres. This joint effort will create the next leap forward in the evolution of motion picture entertainment, bringing animation to life.

This historic debut of an entirely new release format will further define, refine, and elevate the film art form and marks the first time a major motion picture studio (Disney) has fully embraced a digital deployment plan. Disney selected Dolby Digital Cinema, a state-of-the-art digital cinema presentation system, to debut Chicken Little's brand new proprietary CG animation process. Dolby's technology, combined with Industrial Light & Magic's newly invented method of creating digital 3D imagery, provides the first feature motion picture presented in true digital 3D. Viewers of Chicken Little will experience this revolutionary format with the use of special 3D glasses offering greater clarity and more comfort than conventional 3D glasses.

Commenting on the announcement, Dick Cook, chairman, The Walt Disney Studios, said, "Disney Digital 3D is a truly groundbreaking technology that combines the latest innovations of science and art, and we are proud to be a part of filmmaking history. Our proprietary, state-of-the-art CG animation process used to make Chicken Little and future animation projects will finally allow moviegoers to experience true digital three-dimensional entertainment in theatres." Cook continued, "Walt Disney pioneered many technological breakthroughs and set an uncompromising goal for his Studio to constantly push the envelope to offer a superior movie going experience. We are very proud to add this animation milestone to the long list of technological breakthroughs for the studio, and we are especially thrilled to work with entertainment technology leader Dolby in this exciting launch. Likewise, we are proud to have the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic to help deliver the movie in 3D."

"Disney and Dolby's commitment to digital cinema paves the way for a large scale digital cinema deployment," said Tim Partridge, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Professional Division, Dolby Laboratories. "Dolby is a trusted brand for providing technologies that dramatically improve the moviegoing experience, and Disney has a fantastic reputation for delivering incredible movies to audiences worldwide. This is a great collaboration between both companies to launch Chicken Little on Dolby Digital Cinema."

ILM President Chrissie England said, "The digital 3D release of Chicken Little is a very exciting chapter in Hollywood history as it marks the next generation of moviemaking. We are delighted to participate with Disney in setting a new benchmark for the future. We are pleased that Chicken Little is the first animated movie to use our new process using Disney's actual 3D models, animation, and camera data. This process allows us to provide a richer, more nuanced viewing experience for moviegoers than any existing postproduction techniques. We feel audiences will embrace this experience as the new standard in animated features."

Virtalis Joins University of Manchester for Stereoscopic Access Grids
3D-News Posted: Saturday, June 25, 2005 (14:36 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

Long time Virtalis user, the University of Manchester, is in the vanguard of Britain's move to create a reliable, high quality "Access Grid". This is seen as the next generation of video conferencing and the earliest adopters are universities and similar research organizations who are using it to share their data and thinking around the globe.

Michael Daw and his Collaborative Working Developments Team were last year given the distinction of operating the National Access Grid Support Centre. His colleague, Martin Turner, Head of the Manchester Visualization Centre, was awarded research funding last December to attempt to bring a 3D element into the images created and shown on the Access Grid. The enhanced sense of depth and the level of interaction provided by stereoscopic visualization means that complex datasets can be analyzed and understood more quickly and ideas communicated to a wider, possibly non-technical audience.

The aim of the inventors of Access Grid (at the Futures Lab, Argonne National Laboratory) was to create a technology that could support productive meetings between remote participants that are as effective as face-to-face meetings. This can only happen if one is able to forget the technology and concentrate on the meeting itself. The first "node" in the UK was implemented at the University of Manchester in 2001 and there are now more than 60 throughout the UK.

Apart from Manchester, several of these are Virtalis customers, with the most recent being the British Geological Survey, University College London and the University of East Anglia. Virtalis is renowned for its expertise in advanced visualization and it is this element that presents one of the most exciting facets of the Access Grid. The CSAGE (Collaborative Stereoscopic Access Research Grid Environment) project being run by Martin Turner's team is funded by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee). Essentially, CSAGE is developing the software technology to use its Virtalis hardware to incorporate stereoscopic images within the Access Grid in real time.

Martin commented "Many disciplines like to get close to their data. I am thinking of chemists and earth sciences in particular. For them, being able to collaborate with far-flung colleagues whilst viewing stereoscopic images generated from their data could be immensely valuable. However, they might not want to stay in 3D all the time, so the ability to switch between 2D and 3D whilst maintaining a high level of quality is important. In future, perhaps more students will be able to learn from home."

Virtalis has installed two visualization systems at the University of Manchester. One is a supercomputer powered three-projector active stereo system with a 25' curved screen display and the second is a three channel, interactive, passive stereo Virtual Reality system. Virtalis will be holding its second Visualization Road Show at the Manchester Visualization Centre on 30th June. All are welcome to visit from both the academic and industrial worlds. Among the products on display will be Virtalis' own portable visualization projection system, StereoWorks, and the Virtalis team will also be demonstrating immersive VR using a Head Mounted Display and tracking system. Visitors will be able to talk to University of Manchester staff about how they use visualization. Other technology on display will include the FastSCAN Cobra laser scanning system for digital scanning and rapid prototyping, the Phantom Omni haptic device and the new Synthagram autostereo "glasses-free" screen.

The aim of the Road Show will be to highlight the flexibility, robustness and cost-effectiveness of these tools and techniques in terms of aiding research projects and experimentation, improving design, optimizing R&D, accelerating product-to-market and enhancing understanding and communication.

SplitFish to release its eyeFX™ 3D Adapter on July 1st
3D-News Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 (15:58 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

The patent pending eyeFX 3D Adapter connects to the Sony Playstation II and allows video games to be played in real 3D. Both new and older release games such as Lara Croft, Matrix, Ace Combat 5, Half Life and many more Playstation titles can now be played in a way that has never been seen before.

The eyeFX 3D Adapter, developed by SplitFish GameWare, is the world's first and only stereoscopic 3D adapter exclusively designed for the Playstation 2.

The eyeFX 3D Adapter allows the video game player to see greater detail in the game not only with the depth they see in the game play but allows the video game players to see objects come right off the television screen. In many video games, the 3D depth perception is a serious advantage to the game player.

Approximately 11% of the randomly tested video games worked in better 3D than the best available 3D theater productions. With the high quality of 3D content now available to video game players that use the eyeFX 3D Adapter to play video games, the Company anticipates ramping up production over the course of the summer leading into the Christmas season.

The product will be made available across Canada and the United States in video game retail stores for a suggested retail cost of $49.95 per complete kit.

Elliott Swanson's 'Lenticular Heaven' at the 3D Center of Art and Photography
3D-News Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2005 (14:55 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

3D without the special glasses becomes reality on July 1 when Elliott Swanson takes you to "Lenticular Heaven". Covering a wide variety of subjects, these images are printed on a special medium that allows the viewer to see depth without the customary eyewear.

Beautiful immersive slides of Marlin Peterson's travels will be shown in the stereo theatre on the hour, concurrent with the gallery show. "Island Apart: Only in Madagascar" documents just one of Marlin's many excursions. He is currently hiking and photographing in Kazakhstan.

The 3D Center also houses a collection of antique and contemporary stereo cameras, viewers and other devices. Information panels and interactive displays explain the phenomenon of 3D vision. The Center's collection of stereocards are available for viewing and the reference library is open to visitors. There are daily 3D slide projections.

Open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays from 1 pm until 5 pm. Open First Thursday from 4pm until 9 pm. Admission by donation. 1928 NW Lovejoy, Portland/Oregon, USA. Tel.: 1 (503) 227-6667, Web: http://www.3dcenter.us.

Barco introduces network-centric VR workroom for collaborative, multi-source 3D visualization in Oil & Gas
3D-News Posted: Friday, June 10, 2005 (19:06 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

At this year's EAGE, Europe's largest geosciences and engineering conference – taking place in Madrid, Spain from June 13 to 16 – Barco will introduce its VR workroom for collaborative data analysis and decision making in the oil and gas industry. At this world premiere, visitors will witness Barco's unique capabilities for simultaneous visualization of multiple information windows from various sources - including the company network - on one large canvas.

Next to the stereoscopic visualization of seismic data, complex reservoir models, well logs, and geological cross sections, all information available in the company can be retrieved via the network and displayed in additional windows on the large VR workroom screen. Direct access to all information and collaborative viewing on a large canvas enables accurate analysis and fast decision-making.

Barco's advanced windowing functionalities enable users to freely position and scale multiple windows with mono or stereo content from diverse external sources (video or data). Teleconferencing windows can be added and several locations can be visually linked for efficient collaboration. Frequently used content can be saved on the projector's hard disk and retrieved on demand.

The large 16:9 screen is powered by two Barco iCon HDTV projectors (one for the left-eye image and one for the right-eye image) for utmost uniformity - no blend - and superior detail (HDTV 1920 x 1080 pixels). Easy intuitive operation through the familiar Windows XP desktop interface enables users to access all sources and to control all content by simply using the wireless mouse and keyboard.

Adding optical tracking and mouse emulation technology, the VR workroom allows direct, wireless interaction with the data.

Connecting several Barco VR workrooms to an existing network enables companies to visually link multiple off- and onshore facilities, saving expensive traveling time and increasing business efficiency. All information can be shared from a remote location on a large 16:9 canvas. Networked VR workrooms can be centrally managed and ensure a superior return on investment.

Visit Barco at booth # 852. Also on show at EAGE are Barco's DEUCE stand-alone VR environment at HP booth (# 862) and a dual-channel Barco Galaxy configuration for active stereo viewing at IBM booth (# 532).

Obituary: Anne Bancroft
3D-News Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2005 (3:30 UTC) | Posted By: DavidStarkman

Anne Bancroft, well-known actress of stage and screen, died on June 6, 2005 at the age of 73.

While best known for her Oscar-winning role of Annie Sullivan in the 1962 film "The Miracle Worker", and for her memorable portrayal of Mrs. Robinson in the 1967 film "The Graduate", one of her roles that you will probably not find mentioned in any of the popular obituaries is her performance as Laverne Miller in the 1954 3-D film "Gorilla at Large".

Photo ©2003 David Starkman

An underrated film, possibly due to its silly and sensationalistic title, "Gorilla at Large" featured a top-notch cast that included Cameron Mitchell, Raymond Burr, Lee J. Cobb, Lee Marvin, and Warren Stevens. Technically it is one of the best of the 1953-54 twin-strip 3-D films, and made good use of the circus/carnival setting - a natural location to find plenty of layers of depth to take advantage of.

However, some of my most vivid memories of this film are the close-ups of Anne Bancroft. Only 22 years old at the time the film was made, this film is listed by the Internet Movie Database as her 5th film. Always beautiful, Ms. Bancroft was absolutely stunning in 3-D close-up!

In January 2003 I was fortunate enough to meet Anne Bancroft and her husband Mel Brooks, at a film screening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, CA. They were kind enough to pose for a 3-D picture, and I am pleased to share this photo as a memorial three dimensional tribute to this wonderful actress.

David Starkman
Culver City, CA
June 8, 2005

3D Presentation at the Annual Zoo Directors Convention in Berlin
3D-News Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2005 (16:26 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

3D cinema is a thrilling experience not only for cinema audiences, but for visitors to theme and adventure parks, museums and zoos as well. The attendees of the Annual Zoo Directors Convention in Berlin (Germany) recently saw for themselves the impeccable quality of modern digital 3D projection.

On May 26, zoo directors from all over Central Europe held a meeting at the Berlin zoos to exchange experiences. Apart from interesting lectures and inspiring talks by experts, this year's convention featured a very special attraction: a 3D presentation by Kinoton at the UCI Kinowelt Zoo Palast theatre.

After a short introduction to the principles of 3D projection, some 140 zoo directors enjoyed impressive stereoscopic nature films by nWave Pictures such as Blue Magic, The Majestic Leopard and PandaVision.

The razor sharp 3D images were projected with the Kinoton digital HD StereoVision System. This complete package includes an HD StereoVision Player with two synchronised output channels and two venue-appropriate digital projectors together with dowsers and polarisation filters. For this application, two Sanyo HD 10 video projectors were deployed.

The HD StereoVision System provides passive 3D projection. The two output channels of the HD StereoVision Player run perfectly synchronously, transmitting separate pictures to the digital projectors. The 3D glasses worn by the audience are polarised in the same manner as the light emitted by the projectors, so the right eye can only see the images shown by the right projector while the left eye can only perceive the left projector's pictures. These different views create a vivid impression of depth for any observer.

The digital HD StereoVision System can be used for a large variety of applications as it can process all common HD formats including 1080@24p. What's more, the stereoscopic clips can be combined with "normal" 2D films. The DIPIT software included in the system ensures easy operation with a few simple mouse-clicks. Additionally, the installation is fast and easy.

2006 Stereoscopic Displays and Applications conference
3D-News Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2005 (15:06 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

The 2006 Stereoscopic Displays and Applications conference will held at the San Jose McEnry Convention Centre, San Jose, California as part of the 2006 Electronic Imaging: Science & Technology Symposium - organised jointly by IS&T & SPIE.

The dates of the 2006 EI Symposium are 15-19 January 2005. The Stereoscopic Displays and Applications conference will be held for 3 days during this period - dates yet to be announced.

The topically related conferences "The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality" and "Three-Dimensional Image Capture and Applications" will also be held during the 2006 Electronic Imaging Symposium.

The Stereoscopic Displays & Applications conference is the largest and longest running technical stereoscopic imaging conference worldwide and an excellent opportunity to meet with others working in this unique field.

Should you consider presenting your work at the January 2006 conference, your 500 word abstract is required by 5 July 2005. Full submission details are available from the conference website at http://www.stereoscopic.org/2006

Stereoscopic Art Exhibition 'New Art/Redefining the Photograph'
3D-News Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2005 (15:00 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

Renowned Los Angeles photographer Claudia Kunin is currently exhibiting her fine art photography at a show titled "New Art/Redefining the Photograph" at the John Stevenson Gallery, 338 West 23rd St., New York, NY 10011, (Phone: 212-352-0070). The exhibition will run through the end of summer 2005. A reception for the artist will take place on June 19, at 2:30 P.M.

Kunin is exhibiting her unique 3D wall hangings as well as a limited edition set of Ghost Story stereoviews. The stereo views are stereo tissues, a classic form of stereography from the 19th Century that makes use of reflected light, color tinting and back light and is viewed in a Holmes stereoscope. There are 13 individual stereo tissues in the set and a unique box has been handmade for each set. There are only 13 sets of the Ghost Stories views in the edition.

As with all of Kunin's fine art work, the imagery is a powerful fusion of haunting portraits created by the artist's innovative technique of photographing reflections in classic daguerrotypes. The effect is a ghostly revisiting of 19th century men, women and children through the visual afterlife of the photographic medium itself.

The John Stevenson Gallery is located in the Chelsea art district, between 8th and 9th Avenues. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11-6. After July 2 please call for the summer schedule and hours.

3D anaglyph CD catalogues of Claudia Kunin's work are available upon request by E-Mail from Claudia@claudiakunin.com

For more information, visit Claudia Kunin's website at

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