3D-News Archive September 2005


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Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D Blasts Off at World Premiere in Washington, D.C.
3D-News Posted: Friday, September 23, 2005 (22:41 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


More than 1,200 people had a chance to walk on the moon's surface last night, as IMAX Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Playtone Productions, NASA and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum unveiled Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D. The event was one of the biggest and most exciting IMAX premieres ever, as luminaries from the realms of government, entertainment and business filled the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for the film's world premiere. Some of those in attendance for the red carpet gala included: Tom Hanks, narrator, producer and co-writer of the film; nine Apollo astronauts; nearly 60 members of the US Senate and House of Representatives; the Administrator of NASA, Dr. Michael Griffin; as well as numerous other current and former astronauts.
"We were honored to have such a distinguished group of attendees on hand for the world premiere of Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D and sincerely appreciate the support of Lockheed Martin, Playtone, NASA, and the National Air and Space Museum in making the event such a tremendous success," said IMAX Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. "It was an incredible thrill to be in the presence of the brave astronauts that have walked on the moon, and to share in their experiences through the power of IMAX® 3D. The recent successful Space Shuttle mission and NASA's announcement about plans to return to the moon are driving increased public interest in space exploration, and we're optimistic that this fantastic film will draw more attention to the topic, as well as inspire today's youth, who never had the opportunity to experience the wonder of seeing man walk on the moon."

Added Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment, "All partners involved in the making of Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D are extremely proud of this film, and we feel the prestigious premiere helped underscore the significance of the picture, the valuable message it delivers, and the importance of the United States space program, as we prepare to once again send American astronauts to the lunar surface."

Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D opens exclusively in IMAX® theatres beginning Friday, September 23. The film takes audiences to the lunar surface to walk alongside the 12 extraordinary astronauts who have been there - to experience what they saw, heard, felt, thought and did. The film features rarely seen NASA footage, CGI imaging and live-action renditions of the lunar landscape and propels audiences nearly a quarter-million miles above the Earth's surface.

Sponsored by Lockheed Martin, in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Tom Hanks presents a Playtone/IMAX Production: Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D. The director of photography is Sean MacLeod Phillips. The production designer is Charles Lee. The music is by James Newton Howard. It is edited by William Schinski and written by Tom Hanks, Mark Cowen and Christopher G. Cowen. The supervising producer is Jini Durr. The executive producers are Hugh Murray and Mark Herzog. Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D is produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Cowen, and directed by Mark Cowen. For more information see http://www.imax.com/magnificentdesolation.

Viking Systems EndoSite 3Di Digital Vision System Honored with 2005 Innovations of the Year Award by the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons
3D-News Posted: Friday, September 16, 2005 (16:54 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


The EndoSite 3Di Digital Vision System, the flagship product of Viking Systems, Inc. (OTCBB:VKSY), a manufacturer of 3D laparoscopic vision systems for use in minimally invasive surgery (MIS), was chosen by the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons (SLS) as a recipient of the 2005 Innovations of the Year Award.


Viking Systems was awarded this recognition by SLS at the 14th International Congress and Endo Expo in San Diego on Wednesday, September 14, 2005. The Society uses this award to encourage and recognize the most innovative products of the past year that have a multidisciplinary application in minimally invasive surgery.

"This honor validates our continuing mission, which is to take on the challenge of optimizing visualization in MIS," said Jed Kennedy, President, Viking's Vision Systems Group. "Viking is committed to providing state-of-the-art technology and 3D vision for practicing laparoscopists, while enabling the growth of MIS-trained surgeons through enhanced exposure and visualization during surgery."

Viking's EndoSite 3Di Digital Vision System provides surgeons with a view during MIS similar to one obtained in conventional open procedures. It also offers laparoscopic surgeons three-dimensional vision, on-demand access to existing clinical images and patient information through Infomatix(R), and complete freedom of movement while remaining directly engaged with the patient. Each member of the surgical team has access to high-resolution, stereoscopic images delivered within their natural line of sight, which creates an immersive surgical environment that provides MIS surgeons with improved vision quality and the sense of open surgery.

Bitmanagement Software GmbH and Spatial View Inc. tag team to accelerate 3D deployment
3D-News Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2005 (16:11 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


Spatial View Inc., Toronto, and Bitmanagement Software GmbH, Munich, announced the formation of a new partnership. The new alliance will focus on the integration and sharing of concurrent 3D imaging technology and products, as well as on research and development of new solutions. The combined clout of the two companies is sure to foster interesting advancements in the burgeoning world of 3D where 3D monitors are the next big trend. Interactive realtime manipulation of existing 3D content based on ISO standards - which are supported by almost all 3D authoring tools - is the key to industrial application of 3D hardware and software bundle.

In addition to providing and creating 3D software, the management of Bitmanagement has been an instrumental leader in setting 3D ISO standards for VRML/X3D and MPEG-4 based 3D viewing with focus Internet.

Their BS Contact Stereo is a well integrated 3D visualization software for photo/video/audio and interactive realtime 3D for use with applications as diverse as CAD engineering and Virtual Reality. Spatial View contributes the versatility of its 3D software technology- tools for designing, interacting with and displaying 3D, as well as a series of new auto-stereoscopic displays known as the I-View Series. The LCD displays and software together make 3D vision possible over a wide range of viewing angles and positions, while offering high picture-quality with brilliant resolution and depth of colour. The images are seen with the naked eye - no optical aids like 3D glasses are needed.

Under the terms of the partnership, Bitmanagement and Spatial View will work together in an effort to bring more efficiency to the development process and in turn a quicker turnaround of products to market. "It's exciting—two companies that are very experienced in 3D, will share resources and extend opportunities to and for one another in the international markets of 3D visualization," says Spatial View Vice President, Wolfgang Opel. In addition to cooperative use of technology and other resources, the two companies will mutually explore new fields for 3D development and product integration.

Planar Introduces StereoMirror(TM) Display Ideal for Geospatial Image Analysis and Photogrammetry, Stereoscopic 3D LCD Monitor Delivers Excellent Stereo Image and Superior Visual Comfort
3D-News Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 (23:23 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


Planar Systems, Inc., a worldwide leader in flat panel display systems, is introducing the latest in stereoscopic 3D technology to address imaging applications in geospatial intelligence and photogrammetry where customers need 3D viewing to discern depth in the imagery and interpret spatial details. Planar designed its initial offering with these specific customers in mind due to the demand for a high-quality 3D imaging solution and the need to replace discontinued CRT-based systems.
Source: Planar Systems, Inc.

Featuring crisp stereo imaging, comfortable viewing and dual use as a standard 2D monitor, Planar's SD1710 provides a new dimension of digital image quality and user comfort to geoscientists, cartographers, engineers, image analysts and environmental planners who need to accurately map terrain, monitor erosion, design mass transit systems, identify boundaries, plan missions and investigate habitats.

"When we first connected our DAT/EM Summit Evolution(TM) digital stereoplotter to Planar's SD1710, our development team was extremely impressed with the sharpness and clarity of the stereoscopic 3D monitor, rivaling that of older film-based analytical mapping systems," said Robert Bredlie, senior software engineer, DAT/EM Systems International. "Since then, the Planar SD1710 has received enthusiastic approval from our mapping and GIS industry clients."

Stereoscopic viewing of aerial and satellite photographs has been commonly used for decades in the field of geospatial intelligence. With the advent of digital photography, geospatial customers need high-resolution, superior-quality stereoscopic 3D monitors for photogrammetry that can also support image panning without blurring. Long-term viewing comfort for professional analysts who use stereo for an extended period is also critically important. With the more recent availability of low-cost satellite images for civilian uses, such as land use planning, bio-habitat management and even demographic market analysis, it is possible to improve the efficiency of this process with stereoscopic 3D viewing.

"Planar has taken a huge step forward in the quality of softcopy viewing systems with the introduction of its SD1710," said Gerry D. Bering, production manager, AeroMap U.S. "We are able to see considerably more detail in the difficult light areas, such as in trees and shadow areas, with Planar's 3D stereoscopic monitor. We would recommend it over all other softcopy viewing systems currently available."

Planar has partnered with companies such as BAE Systems, Boeing, DAT/EM Systems International and Matrox to demonstrate and validate this advanced stereoscopic 3D monitor design that meets the needs of customers who require an optimum way to visualize complex images and data. Stereo displays provide a quicker and more accurate extraction of information and offer a more realistic experience than conventional 2D viewing. Planar's SD1710 is the first desktop stereoscopic display to offer the desirable characteristics afforded by conventional AMLCDs, such as excellent image quality, high resolution, flicker-free viewing, ease of computer interfacing and a wide viewing angle that enables multi-viewer use. The SD1710 is also fully usable in normal office lighting.

"Key growth markets for 3D displays are in geospatial intelligence, scientific visualization and industrial design, medical systems and consumer monitors, such as for gaming applications," said Paul Semenza, vice president, displays and consumer electronics, at iSuppli. "Revenues from these market segments are forecast to grow at a compounded annual rate of 73 percent from 2004 to 2010. Products that provide high levels of image quality and viewing comfort will be in the best position to capitalize on this growth."

To view stereo images independent of position, the user wears comfortable, lightweight polarized glasses, similar to sunglasses. Because both eyes see a continuous flicker-free image, the monitor can be used for an entire workshift without discomfort. CRT stereoscopic displays can cause eye strain, headaches, or even nausea from alternately blinking right and left images. Autosterero (glasses-free) displays restrict users to position their head in a specific "sweet spot" with no room for movement over extended periods of time.

The SD1710 uses StereoMirror(TM) technology which provides the highest quality stereoscopic image available in a desktop monitor and is composed of two 17-inch AMLCD monitors in an up/down configuration separated at a 110-degree angle. A semitransparent mirror is positioned at a bisecting angle between the two monitors that when combined with polarizing glasses, generates the stereo separation. This unique beam-splitter approach creates a stereoscopic 3D monitor that retains the full resolution, response time and color saturation of the individual monitors.

Future imaging applications may include medical imaging, molecular modeling, CAD/architecture and computer gaming. It is available for immediate delivery with an MSRP of $3,995. The SD1710 StereoMirror monitor and accessories are available through Planar and direct resellers. The standard warranty includes a one-year advance replacement service with two-day business shipping. For additional information please visit http://www.planar.com/stereomirror.

Gene Faulkner’s stereoscopic diptychs and triptychs at the 3D Center of Art and Photography
3D-News Posted: Monday, September 12, 2005 (21:59 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


On the Gallery walls, Gene Faulkner’s stereoscopic diptychs and triptychs provide a captivating view of seemingly normal scenes. The hourly slide show presents the Masters as you have never seen them before! Jim Long has painstakingly rendered the beautiful classics of art into three dimensions.

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.

Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D to Open in Record Number of IMAX(R) Theatres on September 23rd
3D-News Posted: Monday, September 12, 2005 (21:51 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


Presented and narrated by Tom Hanks, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D will launch in 85 IMAX theatres worldwide on September 23rd, with additional locations confirmed for later dates. This film marks the widest initial release of an IMAX® film ever, and a continuation of the IMAX space film legacy. Previous IMAX space films have achieved great success, including Space Station 3D, which has generated almost $90 million in worldwide box office sales since its 2002 release.

Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D, a Playtone/IMAX production sponsored by Lockheed Martin, takes audiences to the lunar surface to walk alongside the 12 extraordinary astronauts who have been there to experience what they saw, heard, felt, thought and did. The astronauts' words are brought to life by an array of some of Hollywood's most recognizable and sought-after motion picture and television actors, including Morgan Freeman, John Travolta, Paul Newman, Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey and more. The film features rarely seen NASA footage, CGI imaging and live-action renditions of the lunar landscape to propel audiences nearly a quarter-million miles above the Earth's surface. These various elements, combined with IMAX® 3D technology, crystal clear images and state-of-the-art digital surround sound, provide a completely immersive cinematic experience.

"The winning combination of Tom Hanks, Playtone, an all-star voice cast and IMAX 3D's unique ability to transport people to places they could only dream of going, has resulted in an amazing film for both institutional and commercial IMAX theatres - making this our widest initial IMAX release ever," said Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. "We thank our theatre network for sharing in this new distribution milestone with our long-time partners Lockheed Martin and NASA, and are confident that more moviegoers than ever before will experience the sensation of space exploration through the magic of IMAX 3D."

6-D cinema coming to a theatre near you
3D-News Posted: Tuesday, September 6, 2005 (23:54 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


Slovenian company Kolosej has announced plans to roll out X6D, a 3D digital cinema system complete with motion, special effects and viewer interaction.

X6D is a joint venture led by Kolosej, with Edwards Technologies Inc of the US providing the large format stereoscopic digital projection system, and Cinema Park Network (EU) offering the first ever Smart Moving Seats.

The seats feature dual motion capacity, built-in special effects - such as a scent system, ticklers, wind and rain - and a cordless interactive control. The latter allows each viewer to influence the course of the film and take part in a range of interactive games.

Also featured are a state of the art lighting system programmed individually for each show, a multi-channel sound system, and a combination of digitally controlled cranes which permits the reformation of the theatre as part of the experience.

The first X6D locations are scheduled to open in Europe before the end of 2005, with the content catering for four main markets. These include edutainment presentations in the mornings for school children; large format movies for families and the younger generation in the afternoon; digital versions of movie blockbusters during the evenings, and unique multi-sensory musical cinema experiences for late night visitors.

Kolosej - a division of the Ljublijana-based KD Holding Financial Company, itself part of the KD Group - plans to have 10 X6D cinemas in operation by the end of next year.

A World First at the IFA: Live 3D TV Without Glasses
3D-News Posted: Saturday, September 3, 2005 (3:39 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


Visitors at this year's IFA in Berlin will for the first time ever be able to experience live content streamed in a glasses-free, three-dimensional television format. Newsight GmbH (formally Opticality/X3D Technologies) has together with companies Grundig and 3D Image Processing (3D IP) succeeded in capturing live video and streaming it through an autostereoscopic 3D display system in real time whereas prior 3D content had been limited to post-production material.

"This breakthrough will revolutionize home entertainment," said Jay Bingle, Chairman & CEO of Newsight. "We are leading the way to a new era in television - comparable to the passage from black-and-white to colour TV." Historically the IFA has always been the preferred platform to introduce milestones in the development of television to a broad public: in 1967 the first colour TV, in 1983 the first stereo colour TV. And now in 2005 the transition to live 3D TV without glasses.

To date, 3D content has had to go through a post-production process where it was specifically rendered for viewing without glasses. With this new breakthrough from Newsight/3D-IP/Grundig, subject matter can now be captured and transmitted in glasses-free 3D in real time. This eventually introduces an entirely new way to experience everything from sporting events to reality TV. Projected timing for the in-home experience is seen within the next few years given infrastructure and other requirements. As a first milestone, the plan is to broadcast a live sporting event in 3D in a selected venue during the football World Cup 2006.

The innovation is based on the ability to capture 3D with a remarkable single stereo-camera 1920x1080 (HDTV) in combination with a real-time processing operation. In the past, such 3D content was typically captured with eight or sometimes two cameras, and then it was processed for delayed off-line playback. With this new advancement, a scene is captured live in two perspectives using a professional high-resolution stereo camera with special image processing hardware code-named Black Betty, developed by partner company 3D-IP. These two data streams are then routed through a converter chip, which synthesizes multiple viewpoints from a 3D scene in real time. A total of eight stereo views are generated, combined and then played back on a modified Grundig Tharus 3D TV screen. "This technical and human challenge, which led to the final breakthrough, was possible thanks to our industry-leading experts." said Paul-Louis Meunier, managing director of Newsight GmbH.

The Tharus, a standard flat panel TV, is converted into a 3D display by integrating a filter, specially developed by Newsight, into the TV set. Eight pictures are shown simultaneously and projected in different directions, so that the eye of the observer perceives each of the different perspectives. 3D glasses are not needed with this system: the 3D image can be seen with the naked eye.

Now the consumer can truly experience the world as it is in reality - live and three-dimensional - not flat.

Opticality/X3D Technologies Restructures Digital Display Company
3D-News Posted: Saturday, September 3, 2005 (3:37 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


Opticality Corporation/X3D Technologies has announced a restructuring of its operations, and also changed the worldwide company name to Newsight Corporation and Newsight GmbH in Europe. This change reflects a now paired emphasis with its advances in narrowcast networks of digital displays. "The out of home digital display network model is quickly emerging as a more effective and flexible alternative to traditional media," says CEO Jay Bingle. "By coupling our unique visual solutions, such as 3D, with infotainment-based networks, we have the inherent ability to redefine the entire digital signage proposition."

The restructuring under Newsight will support two global operations: Newsight Media Solutions and Newsight Technologies. This evolution recognizes the natural benefit of aligning the 3D technology and the network capabilities of the company.

Newsight Media Solutions takes a fresh approach to the imminent but recently stalled digital display signage market. "We have moved the network from the family room to the retail environment, where three-quarters of all purchase decisions are made," said Bingle. Unlike recent forays in digital signage networks, Newsight will blend entertainment and commercial messaging (advertising) and deliver it via a collection of new-to-the-world technologies. In addition to the attention-grabbing 3D displays, this will include 2D displays with directional sound and kiosks that allow people to dispense their own DVDs - all geared towards creating a new level of consumer interaction. Newsight Media Solutions is also emphasizing a back-end system that ties in real-time data to offer its retail and brand customers something that has eluded all networks to date: measurability.

Newsight has already commercialized digital display solutions at hundreds of locations across Europe with the world's #2 retailer, Carrefour. It will also be breaking into the US market with a state-of-the-art networked system at 175 Meijers stores later this year.

With Newsight Technologies, the company will continue its landmark work that has produced the world's most advanced and commercially-viable 3D display solutions. Its renowned R&D center in Jena, Germany has combined innovation in digital screens, software and content creation to create an autostereoscopic 3D effect where images literally float out in front of the screen and can be seen with the naked eye. The riveting effect has the ability to stop viewers in their tracks - an obvious benefit for retail marketers. The dynamic sensory experience of Newsight's innovations have also spurred adoption by companies designing new generation mobile devices, games, navigation systems as well as military, medical and architectural applications.

All-Star Cast Helps Voice Magnificent Desolation: Walking on The Moon 3D
3D-News Posted: Saturday, September 3, 2005 (3:35 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


Upcoming IMAX(R) 3D Film To Be Presented and Narrated by Tom Hanks, Feature Hollywood's "A-List" and Transports Audiences to the Moon's Surface

Reflecting IMAX Corporation's commitment to offer the most entertaining and educational original programming, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D, a Playtone/IMAX production, presented and narrated by Tom Hanks, will feature an all-star voice cast of top Hollywood talent, including Paul Newman, Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, Morgan Freeman, John Travolta, Gary Sinise and Bill Paxton. A who's who of today's actors will lend their voices to the upcoming IMAX® 3D space film, which opens exclusively in IMAX® theatres starting September 23, 2005.

Through the magic of IMAX 3D, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D takes audiences to the lunar surface to walk alongside the 12 extraordinary astronauts who have been there - to experience what they saw, heard, felt, thought and did. The film features previously unreleased NASA footage, CGI imaging and live-action renditions of the lunar landscape and will propel audiences nearly a quarter-million miles above the Earth's surface.

"We are delighted to be working with Tom Hanks, Playtone, a stellar lineup of all-star actors and our great partners NASA and Lockheed Martin to offer the most realistic extra-terrestrial experience possible on planet Earth," said Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. "By combining IMAX 3D, Hollywood's best talent and the top minds of space exploration, this film will offer audiences of all ages an out-of-this-world experience that is both entertaining and educational."

In addition to the actual voice transmissions from the Apollo astronauts and Tom Hanks' narration, the following celebrity voices are featured in the film: John Corbett, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Scott Glenn, Rick Gomez, Frank John Hughes, Tim Matheson, Matthew McConaughey, Paul Newman, Neal McDonough, Bill Paxton, Barry Pepper, Kevin Pollak, Peter Scolari, Gary Sinise, John Travolta, Donnie Wahlberg and Rita Wilson.

Sponsored by Lockheed Martin, in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Tom Hanks presents a Playtone/IMAX Production: Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D. The director of photography is Sean MacLeod Phillips. The production designer is Charles Lee. The music is by James Newton Howard. It is edited by William Schinski and written by Tom Hanks, Mark Cowen and Christopher G. Cowen. The supervising producer is Jini Durr. The executive producers are Hugh Murray and Mark Herzog. Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D is produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Cowen, and directed by Mark Cowen. For more information, see http://www.imax.com/magnificentdesolation.

Complete Interactive Tour of Ancient Agora, Home of Socrates, Opening Soon
3D-News Posted: Saturday, September 3, 2005 (3:32 UTC) | Posted By: Webmaster


Foundation of the Hellenic World Uses Silicon Graphics Prism Systems to Design Immersive, Interactive Presentation for New Domed Theater

Late next year, Foundation of the Hellenic World's (FHW) innovative cultural center/museum, Hellenic Cosmos, will feature an immersive virtual tour of Agora, the heart of ancient Athens. For the development of this stunning Virtual Reality (VR) presentation in advance of the 2006 opening of a state-of-the-art immersive 128-seat domed theater, the Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW), a not-for-profit cultural institution in Athens, Greece, selected visualization technology from Silicon Graphics (NYSE: SGI - News). FHW will use the SGI® system to add more animations and much more realistic graphics to the Agora presentation than its previous VR datasets. The final implementation solution will be decided at a later date.

The Agora's buildings were the center of public life, a site of political meetings, commercial transactions, the administrative center and also the judicial and religious center of the city. Socrates often met his disciples there, in the shade of the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios. The ruins of the Agora can be visited today, below the hill where the Acropolis stands, but for the first time, visitors and residents of Athens will be able to tour the ancient Agora immersively and interactively, filled with the living, breathing activities of its long history.

An SGI customer for many years, FHW expanded its permanent virtual exhibits at Hellenic Cosmos last year to coincide with the 2004 Summer Games. The Foundation opened three new exhibits, also created using SGI visualization technology, including an immersive 3D tour of Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, which has been enormously successful for the center. To create an even more spectacular virtual tour for the new domed theater, FHW purchased two Silicon Graphics Prism(TM) visualization systems, one with four ATI graphics processor units, a compositor and four Intel® Itanium® 2 processors running the Linux® environment. The second Silicon Graphics Prism system is a two-processor, two graphics pipe configuration that is being used for porting and testing applications.

"Our Ancient Olympia tour had 33 virtual buildings and, at about half a gigabyte, was double the size of our previous dataset; it was straining our 7-year-old system. We knew we had to move to a faster machine with bigger texture memory and bigger shared memory for the Ancient Agora, which has 43 buildings, plus we're planning much more interaction," said Athanasios Gaitatzes, head of the Virtual Reality Department, Foundation of the Hellenic World. "We also wanted to move all our existing productions onto the Linux environment of the Silicon Graphics Prism and see how the new graphics cards that SGI is using will work with our old data, and get some exposure to the new machine's new architecture. We looked at clusters and they are very painstaking to use. The Silicon Graphics Prism system was the only machine that could offer speed, shared memory, and graphics power, along with the compositor, where you can assign quadrants for projection."

FHW has just started designing the scenario and modeling the ancient buildings of the Agora on the Silicon Graphics Prism system. Artists and software developers at FHW use Softimage|3D(TM) and Softimage|XSI(TM) for modeling the 3D data and write their own framework for development of environments. OpenGL Performer(TM) is the main, underlying software at FHW. The OpenGL® graphics system specification, introduced by SGI in 1992, allows developers to incorporate a broad set of rendering, texture mapping, special effects and other powerful visualization functions and provides a graphics pipeline that allows unfettered access to graphics hardware acceleration. The OpenGL Shading Language supported by the ATI graphics cards in the Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system allows FHW to create the highest level of realism ever achieved.

Gaitatzes has already noticed that their software runs much easier, and that software written in the UNIX® environment is very compatible with the Silicon Graphics Prism system's Linux OS.

"Porting the Ancient Olympia presentation did not require a lot of changes at all and we expect that the Silicon Graphics Prism is going to make our life easier as developers," said Gaitatzes. "We have also discovered an unexpected benefit. For our interactive cave and an immersive desk environment, the audience uses wands that have one joystick and three buttons. The wands cost about $3,000 US each. We thought we would see how the Logitech® Rumblepad(TM), which has two joysticks, 10 buttons and costs only $50, interfaces with the Prism system. FHW's engineers actually got it to work, so in the lab we can move around in Ancient Olympia using one of those Rumblepads. We haven't tried it with our audiences yet, but it opens up a lot of possibilities for interaction."

Still in the specification stage, FHW is investigating stereoscopic capabilities for the dome theatre, which is under construction, and has not yet decided on the exact interaction devices.

"The Foundation of the Hellenic World has used SGI visualization technology for the design, development and exhibition of complex immersive and interactive 3D environments ever since they opened Hellenic Cosmos, and we are gratified they are now relying on the Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system to transport audiences to a time in history when the Agora was the center of democracy in Athens," said Shawn Underwood, director, Visual Systems Group, SGI. "Many museums and other interactive venues are discovering why professionals in the sciences, manufacturing and energy exploration fields have rapidly adopted the Silicon Graphics Prism system: the shared memory architecture delivers the robustness required for the most highly detailed visualization imaginable."

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