FVEA 442/642 / Explorations in Stereoscopic Imaging: from Wheatstone to VR / 2019

“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 2019:

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  • September 16
    Second class meeting.  Michael McNeff stopped by class and told me that the Parallels virtual machine had been installed so that we could work with programs that require Windows 10 to run.  I had not planned to introduce that to the class until next week, however spontaneously decided to have him do an impromptu demonstration of how to properly open Parallels and launch Windows 10 so that perhaps we could work with Masuji Suto’s StereoPhoto Maker (SPM) toward the end of the class. This would allow us to expand upon the knowledge gained from working with the Stereogranimator program from the NYPL.  It retrospect it would have been better to wait until the following week to have covered Parallels and SPM.
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    View Walt Disney’s TV program on creating motion parallax depth effects via the multi-plane camera.  A lesson on 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.  This lead us to the amazing glasses free viewing technique from the creative people at the Brazilian studio Jonathan Post, followed by a conversation on serious approaches to glasses free 3D including those posted on the course page on Autostereoscopic Imaging.
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    I discussed Ken Jacobs’ development of “the propellor” based upon his friend Alfons Schilling‘s rotating shutter device. The rotating shutter does not simply alternate two projected images, but provides for a moment of black between the images which is processed differently in the visual cortex than simply alternating two images. I brought in a variant of this “propeller” that I had fabricated for Joshua Solondz to use for a double 16mm projection piece that he performed in the 2014 course exhibition, Zone.
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    I also showed a smaller shutter wheel that I had fabricated to use for overhead projector flicker work.  I recounted several stories of my work with the historic multi-media lightshow ensemble, Single Wing Turquoise Bird,  and our use of shutter wheels.  I recalled an extraordinarily mesmerizing experience  that occured while projecting shutter wheel flickered and overlaid B&W images from multiple projectors at a Pinnacle concert by  The Velvet Underground. Their set concluded with a performance of Sister Ray which wrapped up with a hypnotic droning wall of sound perfectly matched by our intensely flickering imagery. When the band suddenly ceased playing upon a single loud tom-tom drum hit by Moe Tucker, there was dead silence.  Fully entranced, the lightshow continued projecting for a few moments before going black, then after a few more moments of silence the audience snapped out of their trance and erupted with loud applause. Unforgettable!  I also discussed the SWTB’s use of single projector flicker to create a variant of Brion Gysin’s famous Dreamachine for a performance during a group show in Brookside Park, South Pasadena, 1969.  As they would with a Dreamachine, spectators looked into the flashing cone of projected light with closed eyes, and as the speed of the spinning shutter was gradually varied in the range of around 8 to 15 cycles per second, people experienced bright, complex patterns of shifting color.
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    We viewed Ken Jacobs’ videos, Capitalism: Slavery, and Capitalism: Child Labor which extend the basis of his live Nervous System Performances.   We observed 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 in the left and right images align at a zero parallax point –thus minimizing alternating image induced wiggle motion at those points.  For these digital videos he utilises a method related to the techniques we would use later in the afternoon with a hands on workshop employing the online Stereogranimator program from the NYPL.  We then had our class break.  Following the break It was intended that we would view a film of filmmaker and poet Jack Smith tumbling down the sidewalk in an excerpted from one of Ken Jacobs‘ original Nervous System film-performances: Two Wrenching Departures, however I opted to pass up on other than a cursory look at that in order to spend some time viewing newer works.
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    Jacobs has expanded upon the digital image processing technique used in the Capitalism pieces to perfect the application of the underlying phenomenon he has termed Eternalisms.  You can learn more about the basics of  process and its more complex variations in his comprehensive Patent document. We viewed his video, Rubble, which demonstrates some of the refinements being developed with the Eternalism process.
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    Last fall, Los Angeles Filmforum, Acropolis Cinema, REDCAT, LACMA, and 3-D SPACE presented some of the work of Ken and Flo Jacobs in conjunction with LACMA’s exhibition 3D: Double Vision.  We are not that fortunate this year. However, in a process that is somewhat related to Ken Jacob’s work, we will had an in class 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 wobbling alteration of left and right viewpoints known as wiggle stereoscopy). I had added links to Masuji Suto’s smartphone apps for Android and iOS mobile device apps, 3DSteroid, and i3DSteroid, so that students could download the appropriate app to their personal devices, so that we could experiment with shooting single camera left and right offset images in the process often referred to as the “cha-cha” technique, however ran out of time to cover that and will push it off to the following week.
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  • September 23
    Third class meeting. We will take up where we left off last week and jump into shooting cha-cha process images using Masuji Suto’s smartphone apps for Android and iOS mobile device apps, 3DSteroid, and i3DSteroid. We will explore the various viewing and image saving options with those apps, finally moving on to a brief  workshop on the use of Suto’s StereoPhoto Maker via the Parallels virtual machine for Windows 10 on the Mac.  Students will load cha-cha shot stereo pairs and learn to adjust and output the resulting stereoscopic pairs in various formats.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.
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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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  • September 30
    Fourth class Meeting.  Visiting artist Eric Kurland will present his work and discuss many of the options that students have available to work in 3D.  Eric is the Founder and Executive Director of 3-D Space: The Center for Stereoscopic Photography, Art, Cinema, and Education, the Director of the LA 3-D Movie Festival, and past President of the LA 3-D Club (2010 to 2015). In addition to his service to the 3D community, Eric has worked for a range of commercial clients including, Film Roman Animation, Nintendo Of America, National Geographic, and NASA/JPL.
    Eric was lead stereographer for the animated short film Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, and worked on the Google Spotlight Stories’ VR production, The Simpsons: Planet of the Couches, He also served as the 3D Director for the band OK Go’s music videos, White Knuckles, and All is Not Lost.  He has long been a proponent of low budget Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approaches to 3D production and has exhibited at the Bay Area Maker Faire every year since 2011. For the OK Go videos Eric used two hacked Canon PowerShot TX-1 cameras, with a control switch built into an Altoids tin..
  • October 7
    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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  • October 14
    INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
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  • October 21

    Sixth class meeting. Visiting Artist Christine Marie will present 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.

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  • October 28
    Seventh 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 the 3-D Con 2017, 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.

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    Chris Casady feigning awe over a pedestal mounted motion control X-Wing model at ILM in 1977.
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  • November 4
    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 course’s group exhibition which is scheduled to run from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, on Thursday, December 6.  We will take a look at several bits of documentation from previous year’s exhibitions including OMNIA (2016) , and VARIA (2017). We will have a demonstration and description of the nature of chromostereoscopy and the development of the Chromadepth process.  A look at Luca Cioci’s class project, Chromadepth Loop,  exhibited in LOCI: THE  2015 Explorations in Stereoscopic Imagery Course Exhibition. An introduction to two video interviews with artist, actor, and writer, Leigh McCloskey provides some insights into his expanded chromostereoscopic painting, The Hieroglyph of the Human Soul.  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 18
    Ninth class meeting. Concentrated work on projects being considered for inclusion in the end of semester course exhibition scheduled to run in the Black & White Studio Gallery A404 from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, on Thursday, December 5.
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  • November 25
    Eleventh class meeting.  We will discuss peoples plans for exhibiting in next week’s end of semester course exhibition. Following that we will continue work on those projects. If time permits we will also have a demo on shooting stereoscopic stop motion utilizing the Mark Roberts Motion Control S3 Stereoscopic Stepper via Dragonframe and the Canon 7D DSL (or other DSLR).  Jamie Caliri and his brother Dyami initially created Dragonframe stop motion software for Jamie’s use on the Dragon project,  then developed it into a highly successful application that has allowed generations of animators to efficiently create stop motion animation.  They eventually added excellent support for stereoscopic motion control workflow, starting with the IOTA 3D Stereoscopic Slider , the MRMC S3 Stereoscopic Stepper, and other motion control systems. Unlike 3D CG or live action film which uses two cameras, stereoscopic stop motion work is typically shot with a single camera via a process akin to the cha-cha method of stereoscopic photography.  The objects being animated are moved into the desired position and a single camera mounted on a motion control rig is used to shoot the left image, then the stepper 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 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.  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 2
    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 5.

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  • December 9
    Thirteenth Class Meeting. Semester wrap up discussion.