3D-News Archive July 2004

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View-Master Celebrates 65 Years of Pop Culture Through 3-D Magic
3D-News Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2004 (19:01 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

The National Stereoscopic Association (NSA) Commemorates View-Master's 65th Anniversary at Annual Convention July 7 -12 in Portland, Oregon

This year, Fisher-Price, Inc., the number one infant and preschool toy company in the world and a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc., is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the View-Master(R) brand. With just a glimpse through a View-Master viewer, people have been able to see 3-D images of some of the world's most popular people, places and events, both real and imaginary, past and present. Today, with more than one billion sold, View-Master can be found everywhere from music videos and television shows to commercials, restaurant menus and celebrity party invitations.

"View-Master has secured itself as a classic toy that continues to fuel the imaginations of children around the world," says Chuck Scothon, senior vice president of marketing, Fisher-Price. "It is truly a phenomenon that has transcended the toy box to achieve pop culture status."

"I've been an avid View-Master collector since the age of five," says Mary Ann Sell, president of the National Stereoscopic Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to stereoscopic photography, which is a method used to create 3-D images. "Ever since I was a child, View-Master has provided a magical window in time, allowing me to explore past events and letting me travel the world. As an adult, I continue to be fascinated by all of the wonderful 3-D images I see through my View-Master viewer and this milestone anniversary will be acknowledged at the annual National Stereoscopic Association (NSA) Convention this month."

From Pope John Paul II to Popeye, celebrities real and fictional have been known to play with View-Master viewers. It has appeared in various music videos for artists including REM, the Black Crowes and Mary J. Blige, and hip-hop star Jay-Z even went as far as using it as a celebrity party invitation. View-Master has also starred on television including an appearance on "That '70s Show" and in General Motors' 2002 ad campaign.

It all began in 1938 when William Gruber, a piano tuner by trade and a stereo photographer by hobby, invented the View-Master. Soon after the idea took shape, Gruber created the first View-Master viewer and introduced it in Portland, Oregon in 1939. However, it wasn't until the following year at the 1940 New York World's Fair that many Americans had their first View-Master viewing experience. No one could have predicted the tremendous public response. Just one year following its debut, View-Master was being sold to more than one thousand stores across the country.

Throughout its history, View-Master viewers have played a variety of roles. From 1942 to 1945, during World War II, viewers were used in training for the U.S. military. After the war, public demand for View-Master viewers and reels skyrocketed. During the 1950s, the company mainly produced reels of various national parks and scenic attractions across the country, intended as souvenirs for adults. In 1951, due to the acquisition of its competitor, the Tru-Vue Company of Rock Island, Illinois, View-Master obtained the license to use Disney characters and quickly gained momentum in the children's market. Ever since, View-Master reels have featured some of the most popular cartoons, superheroes and fairytales that have become the mainstays of any View-Master reel collection.

The design and development of View-Master products was handled by several different corporations during the 1970s and 1980s. In April 1997, Tyco Toys, Inc., which had purchased View-Master brand in 1989, merged with Mattel, Inc. of El Segundo, California. As a result of the merger, the View-Master line was assigned to Fisher-Price, Inc. of East Aurora, New York, where this American classic continues to thrive.

To celebrate View-Master's 65th anniversary in 2004, Fisher-Price is releasing a limited edition View-Master(R) Boxed Set that includes a specially-decorated classic viewer and eight reels, one for each decade of the View-Master's existence, featuring scenes from the Apollo Moon Landing and the first American full-length animated movie, Snow White, to Indiana Jones and SpongeBob(TM). Additionally, Fisher-Price will release the View-Master(R) Time Capsule Assortment, which allows parents to take their kids back in time with nostalgic View-Master viewers and reels featuring favorite cartoon characters of the past.

Hidden Depths - Stereo Photographs by Jacques Henri Lartigue
3D-News Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2004 (16:39 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

Design for Life announced the availability of Hidden Depths, a collection of stereo photographs by the great French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue, edited by Bill Hibbert.

It is not widely known, but most of Lartigue's early photographs were taken in stereo, including many of his most famous images such as Gabriel Voisin's first flight, his cousin Bichonnade jumping down the steps of his father's house, and the elegant ladies walking in the Bois de Boulogne. Until now, these photographs have only ever been seen in two dimensions, and even then often very heavily cropped.

Now at last they can be seen full frame and in all three dimensions. When viewed with a suitable stereoscope the added dimension of depth creates what Jacques himself aptly described as "an extraordinary impression". The sensation on viewing these images is not simply one of added depth, but rather one of entering into the picture space, of being part of the action taking place. It is this that gives the photographs their psychological impact – the stereo is not merely another level of detail, at its best it can be completely transformative.

The result of two years work by Bill Hibbert, Hidden Depths includes 100 of the finest of Lartigue's 5,000 stereos, all meticulously reproduced to the very highest quality standards, and printed on heavyweight card. Accompanying the photographs are apposite quotations from Lartigue's memoirs; a short commentary giving the context of each image; and a 32-page book explaining the significance of the stereos in Lartigue's work and the technology of successful stereo reproduction. A high quality stereoscope is also available, specially designed to ensure a superb viewing experience for these lovely photographs.

Hidden Depths has been produced in a limited edition of 2,000 numbered copies.

For further information please visit http://www.designforlife.com

RBT D1 Digital Stereo Camera System
3D-News Posted: Tuesday, July 6, 2004 (16:52 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

RBT Raumbildtechnik GmbH (Aichwald, Germany) and its US-Distributor, 3-D Concepts, announced the availability of the RBT D1 Digital 3D Camera System, based on SONY's DSC-F717 camera.

With the RBT 3D D1 digital, 3D photography is as
easy. A compact and sophisticated synchronization control unit links two standard Sony DSC-F717 cameras via LANC/ACC connectors. To keep it simple, the cameras don't have to be
modified, and both can still be used as mono cameras.

Therefore, two options are available. The D1 will be offered either with or without the cameras.

Offering with the cameras means that the cameras will be synched to within 0.4 milliseconds of each other. An on camera digital LED indicator reads out in real time what the time differences are.

The control unit facilitates synchronous release of both cameras within 1/1000 sec. of each other. Therefore, even fast moving objects can be captured without having synchronization problems.

Features of the D1 synchronization unit:

  • simultaneous ON-OFF of both cameras
  • synchronous zooming
  • synchronous release of the cameras
  • display of the timing difference (up to max. 4/1000 sec.)
Features of the D1 dual camera bracket:
  • easy -access, clearly arranged control elements

  • robust bracket construction

  • quick change, variable 65-170mm stereo base mechanism
  • vertical, horizontal and rotational adjustment

  • tripod socket (1/4" / 20 TPI)
Features of the D1 cameras:
  • 5.0 Megapixel (effective resolution)

  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 2.0-2.4/9.7-48.5 mm (35 mm equivalent: 38-190 mm zoom)

  • zoom: 5x optical

  • focus: 5 area multi-point AF, continuously variable manual ring

  • hot shoe flash terminal

  • shutter priority / aperture priority / manual mode

  • self-timer

  • shutter speed: auto, 1/30 - 1/2000 sec, manual 30 sec - 1/1000 sec

  • ISO: auto, 100, 200, 400, 800

  • white balance: auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, incandescent/manual

  • manual exposure: ±2.0 EV, 1/3 EV steps

  • color LCD: 1.8" 123K pixels low temperature polysilicon TFT
The price in Germany will be approximately 1,000 EUR (including VAT) for the D1 Synchronization unit, plus about 600 EUR (including VAT) per camera.

For the successor model, SONY DSC-F 828, RBT will also offer a synchronization unit. Since the zoom of that camera has to be operated manually, a special option to link the zoom lenses will be available by RBT. No permanent modifications of the cameras are necessary and the variable stereo base mechanism will work as well.

Silicon Graphics Celebrates 10th Anniversary of SGI Reality Center Environment
3D-News Posted: Friday, July 2, 2004 (15:17 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

Immersive Visualization Continues To Revolutionize Decision-Making For Multidisciplinary Teams in the Sciences, Energy, Manufacturing and Government

Silicon Graphics celebrates the 10th anniversary of the July 14, 1994 launch of the SGI® Reality Center® immersive visualization environment. The popular visualization solution is ideally suited for cross functional teams wishing to collaborate and is a key technology enabling project teams to transition to a multi-disciplinary approach. Currently there are 670 SGI Reality Center environments across the globe in key SGI target markets. These include oil and gas exploration, pharmaceutical research and development, automobile and product manufacturing, the sciences, museums and academia, as well as diverse government, weather forecasting and homeland security applications.

At the heart of every Reality Center facility is the SGI® Onyx® family of visual supercomputers, the world's most powerful and scalable visualization engines. SGI Onyx family systems are the only supercomputers designed for visual supercomputing and for simultaneously processing 3D graphics, imaging and video data in real time. Based on the acclaimed SGI® NUMAflex™ architecture, the SGI Onyx family provides the industry's richest feature set, including clip mapping, texture paging, volume rendering, and anti-aliased full-frame HDTV display. Each Onyx visual supercomputer is a highly configurable, highly scalable, shared-memory system controlled from a mouse and keypad and designed from the ground up to support immersive visualization in a variety of configurations and integrated display solutions. The Reality Center environment's atmosphere of immediacy leads to swifter arrival at consensus, which translates immediately into accelerated workflow, faster problem solving, and thereby immense cost savings.

Ten years ago, the SGI Reality Center environment was originally conceived as an overall solution architecture designed to address the fundamental human needs of how to make decisions, how to understand problems, how to communicate and collaborate. It was a major shift in the way people used computer graphics, moving from a research environment to commercial industrial usage.

"The Reality Center environment was created to solve complex problems as transparently as possible, to overcome the limitations of the individual workstation," said Prof. David Hughes, Manager of Advanced Visualization at SGI, and original creator of the SGI Reality Center environment. "The fundamental tenet behind Reality Center was that it was about teamwork. It was about improving productivity, about improving communication, about bringing people together again to solve problems. Once we launched the SGI Reality Center environment we discovered that customers—regardless of what business they came from: oil and gas, or manufacturing, or a museum, or in scientific research—they all found that these basic needs were met with this architecture."

SGI Reality Center solutions were rapidly adopted in Europe and the U.S., and now other parts of the world are harnessing the technology. Four Reality Center environments have recently been built in Mexico to aid in oil exploration. China is also using the immersive environment for oil and gas exploration in addition to powering a state-of-the-art planetarium. Australia has taken Reality Centers facilities in another direction: to train Australian Rail employees on railroad safety and emergency procedures while RMIT University in Melbourne uses their Reality Center for revenue generation. SGI Reality Centers facilities are being installed at top university and research organizations in India, and Malaysia's Dr. Mahathir Mohammad's Multimedia Super Corridor has already installed an SGI Reality Center at its very heart.

"Over the past 10 years, SGI Reality Center customers have used their immersive visualization environments to revolutionize research, development and production processes across entire industries," said Bob Bishop, Chairman and CEO, SGI. "We are encouraged by the role SGI Reality Centers have played in drug discovery, space travel, product design safety, and environmental protection—all achieved in ways we could hardly have conceived of 10 years ago. The SGI Reality Center is truly a tool to accelerate the future."

SGI Reality Center Customers Revolutionize Their Industries

Some recent examples of the advances achieved by SGI Reality Center customers include Statoil, AstraZeneca, Daimler Chrysler, NASA and The British Museum:

  • Statoil, the largest petroleum operator on the Norwegian continental shelf installed SGI® Onyx® 3000 family-based supercomputers in March 2004, as part of an SGI Reality Center environment in its first Onshore Support Center. Scientists, engineers, and management can now see what the operators on the North Sea oil platforms see, provided by real-time data feeds via fiber optic cable, broadband radio-linked communication, and sub-surface sensor transmissions.

    "This new entity puts Statoil among the leaders for implementing new and existing technology," said Svein Omdal, HNO-Stjørdal Visualization & Onshore Support Centre, Statoil. "It could improve recovery by 19 million barrels of oil—worth some 3 billion Norwegian Kroner [more than US $428.5 million over a 5 year period]—through optimal well positioning for optimum recovery. This new way of working can also reduce costs during the drilling process. By using the better support from onshore and better collaboration between offshore and onshore personnel, we feel that we can become more efficient in the drilling process, and that we can save drilling days in the project. We selected SGI because of our prior experience with their high-end visualization products and because they continue to be market leaders in the visualization compute area for oil and gas recovery. It was important for us at Statoil to continue that good work."

  • AstraZeneca, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, purchased an SGI Reality Center facility in Sept. 2002, for its research and development lab in Södertälje, Sweden. The Reality Center facility was chosen for its high-performance graphics and stereoscopic visualization. The facility's immersive visualization capabilities empower a variety of drug discovery research projects, with molecular modeling and computational chemistry at the top of the list.

    "Following the purchase of an SGI Reality Center facility one year ago for our research and development site in Mölndal, Sweden, our Södertälje lab asked SGI to propose a solution for an additional visualization facility, and we worked together on an assessment study," said AstraZeneca Project Leader Sven Hellberg. "The SGI Reality Center facility offers a high level of interactivity with very large visual data sets, such as large molecules, and will greatly enhance the speed of the decision-making process between our cross-collaborative scientific teams."

  • DaimlerChrysler purchased an SGI Reality Center facility in July 2002, to expand the auto manufacturer's Virtual Reality Center (VRC), located at the heart of the Mercedes Technology Center (MTC), in Sindelfingen, Germany. The purchase brings the total number of SGI immersive visualization facilities within the automotive giant to 53 systems worldwide. With SGI Reality Center facilities, DaimlerChrysler has successfully integrated virtual reality technology throughout its new vehicle product development process.

    As DaimlerChrysler's VRC head Thomas Jäger stated, "Our goals have been attained faster than we expected. Thanks to the VR application, we were able to generate double-digit percentage savings in cost of physical prototypes and development times. This motivated us to devote ourselves to quantitatively and qualitatively expanding the possibilities of the VRC. The benefits are obvious. In addition, the community of users within the MTC is growing as well."

  • NASA unveiled an exciting new SGI Reality Center visualization theater in March 2004, following the landings of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers. Housed in the Mars Center at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., the new Reality Center facility is capable of immersing audiences in interactive 3D visualizations, multimedia presentations, and panoramic images that can be navigated in real time, enabling visitors to take a virtual walk on Mars. Featuring a curved display measuring 14 feet tall and 36 feet wide, the new Reality Center facility is the largest of its kind on the West Coast.

    "We are delighted to be able to showcase NASA's numerous achievements in the new SGI Reality Center," said NASA Ames Research Center Director G. Scott Hubbard. "This will be an invaluable information and educational tool for our Mars Center. The NASA Mars Center is a resounding success, allowing anyone to virtually stand on the Red Planet and take in its alien landscape, As we work on future NASA exploration and research missions, including human spaceflight, we look forward to continued collaborations with SGI."

  • The British Museum has installed a 13 feet tall and 42 feet wide curved screen SGI Reality Center that will allow visitors to virtually unwrap an Egyptian mummy.
SGI is currently working on the next-generation Reality Center environment, which will greatly improve current and new customers' ability to make decisions, accelerate workflow, improve communications, and enable collaboration, through transparent universal access to scalable computer processing and visualization power, across organizations.

SGI Reality Center Opens at British Museum to Enable Public to 'Virtually' Explore 3,000 Year Old Mummy
3D-News Posted: Friday, July 2, 2004 (15:16 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster

Since July 1st, the British Museum showcases a "world first" to the public — the virtual unwrapping of a 3,000 year old Egyptian mummy. A 12-foot tall by 42-foot wide curved screen SGI® Reality Center® facility has been installed at the museum and will allow visitors to take part in an exploration of an Egyptian mummy through SGI 3D visualization technology. The groundbreaking project will allow visitors to step into an immersive 3D environment to see what lies beneath the wrappings of Nesperennub, an important priest in ancient Egypt, who has been housed at the museum since 1899.

For the first time in history, an Egyptian mummy has been comprehensively explored in 3D stereo in its entirety. This non-invasive technique has revealed intricate details about the dead man, including his age, lifestyle, appearance, state of health, and how he was mummified. Thanks to SGI® technology, all this can be revealed while the mummy remains undisturbed and completely intact.

The exhibition is the culmination of more than two years' work, which involved the mummy being CT-scanned at a London hospital and 3D laser-scanned in Scotland.

SGI specialists reassembled more than 1500 scanned images of the mummy into a single 3D dataset that can be interactively viewed and explored, using a specially developed, real-time visualization application created by SGI Professional Services. This allowed a combined team of SGI and British Museum experts to embark upon a process of discovery by subtly adjusting numerous parameters, such as density and opacity to tease out fine details hidden deep in the body.

The 112-seat SGI Reality Center immersive theatre at the British Museum was specially designed and installed by SGI Professional Services with Fakespace Systems Inc. Powering the Reality Center facility is a 12-processor SGI® Onyx® 350 with three InfiniteReality4™ graphics subsystems, 6GB RAM, and 1.5TB of disk space. This year also marks the 10th anniversary for SGI building Reality Centers. The British Museum facility is the 669th Reality Center installed since the first 10 years ago in July 1994.

The immersive experience allows visitors wearing 3D-stereo eyeglasses to virtually explore the kind of tomb in which Nesperennub was buried, next to his wife, on the opposite side of the River Nile from Karnak, Egypt. Viewers are then taken inside the wrappings of the mummy and are also able to see Nesperennub's facial features completely reconstructed to give an accurate visual image of the priest. The image then morphs into a human actor and a historical reconstruction of how Nesperennub would have lived is dramatized.

Visitors to the museum are then able to witness the ancient Egyptian rituals of preserving the dead 3,000 years ago, including graphic details on how Nesperennub was mummified. The experience delves into incredible details such as where incisions were made to remove organs, and makes visible amulets of carved stone ceramic and wax found on his body—all without needing to physically remove a single piece of the cartonnage case. Forensic pathologists have also contributed to the 20 minute experience, detailing health problems Nesperennub suffered and considering how he may have died. The notable British actor of stage and screen, Sir Ian McKellen, narrates the entire show.

While the original show will be a 22 minute narrated experience, the option to create more interactive sessions is being investigated. For example, interactive interludes would be added, where the show is paused for further interactive investigation, or a completely free form lecture mode is possible, where a museum expert can take the audience on a journey of discovery anywhere in the mummy at will, based upon feedback from the audience.

"We are excited to bring this revolutionary experience to the public for the first time, and hope it will fascinate visitors as much as it has fascinated us," commented Dr. John Taylor, assistant keeper, Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum. "In Victorian times, Egyptian mummies were unwrapped at public spectacles, which was invasive and ultimately damaging to the mummy. We are gathering information here without disturbing the casing or cartonnage at all—through 3D technology we can reveal so much more than the naked eye can see."

Prof. David Hughes, Manager of Advanced Visualization at SGI, who has pioneered the project from the outset with Dr Taylor, added, "This is an amazing opportunity for the public to explore a piece of history which has never before been seen in such a graphic and detailed way. We are able to recreate Nesperennub the man, and recover detailed information such as how old he was and how he was mummified. This experience is really quite unique, where technology meets archaeology and reveals the methods of another advanced technology of its time; that of the ancient Egyptians. This is a truly remarkable experience and not to be missed!"

"SGI Reality Center environments have been deployed all around the world in a vast variety of areas, including within BP, the primary sponsor for this project, where they are used to assist the process of oil discovery. We have also deployed Reality Center facilities in museums, from Vienna to Beijing, but this one at the British Museum on our 10th Reality Center anniversary will, I believe, prove to be one of the most spectacular to date."

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Editor-in-Chief: Alexander Klein.

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