FVEA 442/642 / Explorations in Stereoscopic Imaging: from Wheatstone to VR / 2018

“Stereopsis is more like a feeling than a perception” -Josh Greer

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Unless they are in purely anaglyph format the stereoscopic still image pairs embedded on this page are formatted for cross-eye free-viewing.  The movie images are in parallel side-by-side and can be viewed on a 3D capable HDTV or other 3D viewer (except for the YouTube videos which while encoded to play as side-by-side are forced to red/cyan anaglyph by the YouTube HTML-5 player)

Evolving Class Schedule for 2018:

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  • September 17
    Second class meeting. Discussion of the free-viewing of stereoscopic pairs via the cross-eye free viewing technique demonstrated by vocaloid characters Hatsune Miku (with Red rather than Cyan hair in an oblique reference to anaglyph 3D), and Kagamine Rin in a very kawaii instructional video by Terry Hor. View and discuss Ken Jacobs’ Capitalism: Slavery, and Capitalism: Child Labor videos which are based on his early Nervous System Performances.  For these digital videos Jacobs utilises a method related to the techniques we will use later in the afternoon with a hands on workshop employing the online Stereogranimator program from the NYPL.  Viewing of Jack Smith tumbling down the sidewalk in an excerpt from one of Ken Jacobs‘ original Nervous System film-performances: Two Wrenching Departures. A discussion of Jacob’s development of “the propellor” based upon his friend Alfons Schilling‘s rotating shutter device.  An examination of the method that Jacob’s employs to direct the viewer’s gaze upon particular aspects and individuals in the scenes by slowly shifting the horizontal positioning of the images so that homologous points align at zero parallax –thus minimizing flicker induced motion at those points.  A consideration of the way that the use of black frames between the flashed image frames differs from simply alternating the images (and of how this stems from his live nervous system performance work with the “propeller”). This fall, Los Angeles Filmforum, Acropolis Cinema, REDCAT, LACMA, and 3-D SPACE will be presenting some of the work of Ken and Flo Jacobs in conjunction with LACMA’s exhibition 3D: Double Vision.  At 1:00pm on Sunday, October 7, Ken will present a talk at LACMA, Ken Jacobs: A Swim Through Open Space.  At 8:30pm, Monday, October 8,  Ken will present a performance at the REDCAT, Metropolis Looms And The Bad Maria Is Tuned Up.  At 8:00pm, Tuesday, October 9,  Ken will present a digital 3D film project, The Guests, at the Downtown Independent. A demonstration and hands on workshop utilizing the NYPL hosted stereopticon card collection and their online Stereogranimator program. This interactive viewing program provides a direct means for comprehending the way that the alignment and horizontal shifting of congruent points in a stereoscopic image pair determines the zero parallax plane (as experienced through the flickering alteration of left and right viewpoints known as wiggle stereoscopy).  Links to Masuji Suto‘s Android and iOS mobile device apps, 3DSteroid, and i3DSteroid, were provided so that students could download the appropriate app to their personal devices if desired. View a 3D video slide show of 2012’s end of semester Course Exhibition in the B&W studio gallery A404.  Most of my stereoscopic videos for the course are on my Explorations in Stereoscopic Imaging YouTube page, however YouTube broke the ability to view videos with the 3D tag in anything other than anaglyph when they abandoned the Flash playback engine. This has forced me to start migrating my 3D videos to Vimeo so that they can at least be played back in side-by-side mode on a 3D TV.  In 2009 YouTube Engineer Peter Bradshaw gave the world a  a great gift with his multiple viewing option  stereoscopic player. It was possible to choose to view 3D videos through many methods including cross-eye (for free viewing), and anamorphic side-by-side (for 3DTV).  It is disappointing  to scroll his video announcement in 2017 and see the left and right side-by-side images on the scrub bar timeline, but not to be able to play them as other than anaglyph full frame. If you are curious about the lost viewing options you can read my old tutorial, Viewing Options for YouTube 3D.
  • September 24
    Third class meeting. Some students share results of their cha-cha experiments from the previous weeks class. An exploration of the Pulfrich Effect (first described and demonstrated by stereographic researcher Carl Pulfrich in 1922) and its relation to the cha-cha and wiggle method of stereogram creation. A performance demonstrating Pulfrich’s pendulum experiment, followed by a viewing of Todd E. Gaul’s classic video, Demonstration of the Pulfrich Effect: NC State Fair.  Viewing of many other examples including Jim Ellis‘ Pulfrich 3D work, Scroggins Beach, and my first CG animation film, 1921>1989  which was created to be stereoscopic, but for which only the left eye render exists.   Elements in Santiago Caicedo’s film Moving Still  (Moving Still cross-eyewere shot from a moving train in order to exploit stereoscopic motion parallax to create a hybrid live action and stereoscopic CG animation film.  The extraction of stereoscopic pairs from that lateral motion of the train is directly related to both the cha-cha method of shooting 3D images and the Pulfrich Effect.  A diagrammatic breakdown of his process is available in French (auto-translatable into rough English via Google translate) on his 2008 website.  Please note that in his diagrams C.G. refers to Caméra Gauche (left camera) and C.D. refers to Caméra Droite (right camera).  Norman McLaren also used a technique based on a variant of Pulfrich’s discovery wherein he used a one frame temporal offset of filmed oscilloscope Lissajou patterns to construct the left and right frames in his optically printed 1951 stereoscopic film  Around is Around.   We may also have a look at the use of the School of Film/Video Mark Roberts Motion Control S3 Stereoscopic Stepper via Dragonframe and a F/V Stop Motion Animation kit with MacBook and Canon 7D DSL camera.  If preparations permit, Stephen Goza and I will demo it for students who are particularly interested in stop motion animation in 3D.
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    Working in the F105 CG Lab ca.1989 with a Wavefront Preview Cross-Eye Wireframe of 1921>1989
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  • October 1
    Fourth class meeting.   Visiting Artist Christine Marie presents an overview of her work.  Christine is an artist and director best known for creating original low tech spectacles incorporating live shadow theater. She seamlessly integrates performers, objects, and handmade special effects to elicit connections with concepts, phenomenology, and history, in emotional and visually stimulating performances. She is a pioneer in the contemporary use of theatrical stereoscopic shadow projection and has developed lights capable of projecting thirty-foot 3D shadows. Christine studied Wayang Kulit traditional shadow puppetry in Bali, and is a former member of ShadowLight theater. She studied at the Cotsen Center for Puppetry at CalArts where she received an MFA in Integrated Media and Theater. She lectures and conducts workshops for theater companies, film studios, universities, and schools. She has taught shadow animation at Pixar and consulted for the film, Me and My Shadow, for DreamWorks Animation. In 2012 she delivered a presentation, Engaging in the Unknown, at a TEDx conference, and later that year was honored as one of  the 20 people selected to become a  2012 TED Fellow, Her most recent work, Shadows in Stereo: Antiquated A.R., was performed at the REDCAT this past August.

    Documentation of the REDCAT 2018 performance of Shadows in Stereo: Antiquated A.R.

  • October 8
    HOLIDAY.  There is no class this afternoon in recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day, however there is a rare opportunity in the evening to experience a Ken Jacobs Nervous Magic Lantern performance at the REDCAT: Metropolis Looms Large And The Bad Maria Is Turned Up. “Renowned film, video and performance artist Ken Jacobs returns to REDCAT with his Nervous Magic Lantern and its spectacular imagery. In a sixty-year career that includes legendary underground films from the 1950s and 1960s and hundreds of 3D cinema pieces, Ken Jacobs has become a celebrated treasure of American art. The Nervous Magic Lantern uses a homemade projector, hand-manipulated elements, and no film or video, to create mesmerizing hallucinatory effects. Each performance is unique, combining swirling abstract textures with hints of mysterious and inexplicable objects—all in a 3D that can be apprehended with a single eye. Truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences, Nervous Magic Lantern performances are the culminating syntheses of Jacobs’ life work.”

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    Ken and Flo Jacobs: A Nervous Magic Lantern Performance

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  • October 15
    Fifth class meeting. An introduction to  3D Drawing and Painting via the course page on the topic, opening with a look at a copy of Jim Long’s  2D to 3D conversion of Rene Magritte’s 1966 version of his seminal 1929 painting, The Treachery of Images. While Jim Long utilizes the ‘select and shift’ method which allows for a precision as fine as single horizontal pixel shifts in sliced regions of the image, conversions are often done via a grayscale image used as a horizontal displacement depth map.  Freehand drawing and painting in stereoscopic 3D is difficult, but it can be done —and in fact for many years it was the only approach possible. The very first stereoscopic drawings were created and exhibited in 1838 by Charles Wheatstone in order to demonstrate the binocular basis of  depth perception.  We jumped around on the site page spending some time learning about the stereoscopic drawing work of Norman McLarenand the exploitation of binocular rivalry by artists such as Alan Ammann, Josh Shaffner, and Salvador Dalí. The use of depth maps to convert 2D images to 3D will be explored through lecture and a viewing of portions of several video demos.  An account of how the difficulties encountered in hand drawing stereoscopic pairs with a pencil, straight edge, and protractor lead to a search for a mechanical drafting solution to allow an assisted form of freehand drawing where both drawings could be made with a single stroke.  We  will view J.T Rule’s 1939 patent for  an Apparatus for Producing Stereographic Drawings, then have a look at the pantograph arm approach described in R. L. Gregory’s seminal 1970 book on visual perception, The Intelligent Eye. and the work of Vladimir Tamari , a Palestinian artist, inventor, type designer, and physicist who is the inventor of several generations of the 3DD stereoscopic drawing instruments.  A discussion of the  SANDDE real-time digital stereoscopic hand drawing and painting system developed by IMAX founder Roman Kroiter will be followed by a viewing of a 2014 preview trailer of an early version of Drew Skillman and Patrick Hackett’s stereoscopic VR drawing application Tilt Brush.  A video exploring Glen Keane’s use of Tilt Brush to create Step into the Page for the 2015 edition of the Future of Storytelling conference will then lead into individual student experiences of the latest version of Tilt Brush via the HTC Vive.
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    Image demonstrating a 2D to 3D conversion created from Pablo Picasso’s Sleeping Woman.

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  • October 22 

    Sixth class meeting. A follow up on last week’s class with a demo of the Adobe Photoshop grayscale horizontal displacement process used for the 2D to 3D conversion of Pablo Picasso’s Sleeping Woman.  Students will then work with Photoshop to experiment with doing 2D to 3D conversions of their own selected images.  During this process individual students will continue with discovering the VR 3D drawing and painting process of Tilt Brush and other programs using the HTC Vive.

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    Gjon Mili’s photo of Pablo Picasso using an electric light to make a drawing in 3D space.

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  • October 29
    Seventh class meeting. A field trip to LACMA for an introduction to the 3D:Double Vision exhibition.

    An animated stereoscopic cross-eye freeview GIF of  a rapidly rotating 4 dimensional cube (based on the seminal 1965 stereoscopic movie, Hypercube , created by A. Michael Knoll at Bell Labs)

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  • November 5
    Eighth class meeting. The first part of the class meeting will be taken up with discussion of any issues or questions students may have related to the creation and completion of work to be installed in the end of semester exhibition scheduled to open in the B&W Studio Gallery A404 on Thursday evening, December 6, 2018. A demonstration and description of the nature of chromostereoscopy and development of the Chromadepth process.  Viewing and discussion of two video interviews with artist, actor, and writer, Leigh McCloskey provides some insights into his expanded chromostereoscopic painting, The Hieroglyph of the Human Soul. Luca  Cicoci may visit the class to share and discuss some of the chromostereoscopic animation, drawing, and mural painting work he has done.  The viewing of  a vintage 30 second Crayola 3D Sidewalk Chalk commercial spot, Welcome to My World will be followed by a visit to the G-Lab Courtyard to experiment with drawing on the pavement with pieces from a Crayola 3D Sidewalk Chalk kit while wearing Chromadepth 3D glasses.
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A 360º group shot of the 2016 class after our experimental Chromadepth drawing session

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“As far as the NFB is aware, these films were the first hand-drawn, stereoscopic, 3D animated films made in the world. They were completed between 1951 and 1952, but never screened in North America because the animator Gretta Ekman, who worked on “Twirligig,” was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1952. As a result of this accusation, the NFB made the political decision to distance itself from all the projects she was involved with, and not to premiere any of the films in North America. Because of this, the general Canadian public never even knew these films existed, even though they were landmark films in terms of the creativity and the technical skill that went into making them at the time.”

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A still image from Norman McLaren’s 1951 stereoscopic film Around-is-Around,

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  • November 19
    Ninth class meeting. CalArts Program in Experimental Animation graduate Chris Casady will present and discuss selections of stereoscopic work he has produced over the decades since he began taking 3D photographs as a child. Chris has worked with 3D and 2D imaging in a career that has included creative roles as an animator in motion picture effects, music videos, TV commercials, and personal filmmaking. He is known for his engaging Flash title sequences, and designed the opening for the American Film Institute’s L.A. International Film Festival for 5 years running. Chris has won two Clio awards for his work in animated commercials, and directed animated music videos for the Beastie Boys, Eddie Murphy, and Michael Jackson. His personal film, Pencil Dance, won top awards at international animation festivals in Canada, France, Japan and Italy, and he has served on the jury of the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Chris was one of the initial animators to make the transition to working with Flash and became one of the first lynda.com authors. As a 24 year old Chris worked with other CalArtians on the effects team of the original Star Wars movie at the fledgling ILM studio located in a warehouse in the San Fernando Valley. Among the many things he will be sharing with the class are the stereoscopic photographs that he shot after hours on the Star Wars set, and which were exhibited for the first time during this summer’s 3-D Con, a joint event encompassing the 43rd National Stereoscopic Association Convention and the 21st International Stereoscopic Union Congress. One of Chris’s passions is absolute animation and in 2015 he conducted a master class, Hand Drawn Musical Visualizations at the Punto y Raya festival (Point and Line festival) held in Madrid, Spain. Chris will screen several of his flash based stereoscopic visual music animations, including, Tongul Torture which he initially creates as 2D Flash animations and then converts to 3D in Photoshop via the grey scale displacement map technique.chriscasady_x_download
    Chris Casady feigning awe over a pedestal mounted motion control X-Wing model at ILM in 1977.
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  • November 26
    Eleventh class meeting.  We will discuss peoples plans for exhibiting in next week’s end of semester course exhibition, currently titled “Wiki”. Following that we will continue work on those projects. We will not be working directly with stereoscopic stop motion techniques because the Mark Roberts S3 Stereoscopic Stepper is in England being repaired.  We have touched upon the principles of stereoscopic cinematography for stop motion animation several time throughout the semester and can discuss it further if there is interest. Unlike 3D CG or live action film, stereoscopic stop motion work is typically shot via a process akin to the cha-cha method of stereoscopic still photography.  The objects being animated are moved into the desired position and then a single camera mounted on a motion control rig is used to shoot the left image, the stepper then moves the camera to the right and shoots the right image. On some projects the camera continues taking one or two shots further to the right of the initial image in order to have the choice of editing with multiple interaxial distances. Multiple interaxial distances are useful in the creation of versions optimized for exhibition on the wide range of 3D screen sizes now available. Jamie Caliri used a pre-release version of Dragonframe to run several months of art direction tests on Henry Selick’s stereoscopic stop motion film Coraline.  Stereography consultant Brian Gardner worked with Henry Selick and DP Pete Kozachik on developing a depth score for Coraline that would enhance the narrative.  Perhaps the Mark Roberts Motion Control S3 Stereoscopic Stepper will return in time for the last class and we may be able to go over the process of shooting 3D with it via Dragonframe and the Canon 7D DSL (or other DSLR) in case someone wants to follow up with using it later. The MRMC S3 Stereoscopic Stepper functions similarly to the experimental prototype rigs used to shoot Coraline in 3D (shown mounted on a multi-axis moco rig in the image below).ac0209_Coraline_11
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  • December 3
    Twelfth class meeting.  Meet in F105 and then move up to the Black and White Studio in A404 to curate and install the end of semester exhibition scheduled to run from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, on Thursday, December 6. 

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  • December 10
    Thirteenth Class Meeting. Semester wrap up discussion.