FVEA 442/642 / Explorations in Stereoscopic Imaging: from Wheatstone to VR / 2017

“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.

Evolving Class Schedule for 2017:

  • September 11
    First class meeting. Examine binocular imagery via various vintage and contemporary stereoscopes. Take a look at Brian May’s book of vintage stereo cards, Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Helland Barry Rothstein’s book of phantograms for children, Pop-up 3D.  Conduct a brief discussion and demonstration on depth perception via both binocular and motion parallax.  Comments on the primary differences experienced with fixed POV stereoscopic displays versus the interactive parallax provided via the variable POV of head tracked HMD’s etc.  View Walt Disney’s TV program on creating motion parallax depth effects via the multi-plane camera.   A discussion on the incorporation of VR and 360º spherical imagery in this year’s course.  Announce the availability of  appointments for experiencing VR with the Vive outside of class time. A look at the course website from previous years as an example of what topics students might decide to pursue this year.  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. A brief demonstration of how to view 3D playback from the computer workstation connected via an HDMI connection to the Vizio 47″ passive 3D monitor mounted on the lab wall. Screening of Part I, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of Brian May’s brief History of 3D.

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  • September 18
    Second class meeting. 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”).  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. We skipped a viewing of a YouTube 3D video slide show of 2012’s end of semester Course Exhibition in the B&W studio gallery A404, and instead viewed my Facebook album of shots from the 2016 exhibition, however I neglected to screen a Facebook Bot Edit of some of those 2D shots of the show into an EDM gem perhaps worthy of falling between the cracks. I am sad to report that while last year you could use a plugin for the Chrome browser to disable YouTube HTML5 playback and revert to the YouTube Flash viewer which supported a broad selection of 3D viewing options. That is now no longer possible. YouTube has suppressed the use of the Flash player, unfortunately not providing the set of 3D viewing options supported by the Flash player in their HTML5 player. The many YouTube users protesting this change appear to be a such a small minority of the company’s vast user base that there is no economic justification to support them.  In 2009 YouTube Engineer Peter Bradshaw gave the world a  a great gift with his multifunction player. It is sad to scroll his video announcement in 2017 and see the left and right side-by-side images but not to be able to play them as other than anaglyph. If you are curious about the lost viewing options you can read my old tutorial, Viewing Options for YouTube 3D.
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  • September 25
    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 will 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. Emily Martinez and I will demo it for students 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 2
    Fourth 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 Punta y Raya festival (Point and Line festival) held in Madrid, Spain.
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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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  • October 9
    HOLIDAY
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  • October 16
    Fifth class meeting. Visiting artist Chris Casady will return to screen the six stereoscopic visual music animations we were not able to screen during the last class meeting.  After the screening and discussion of that work we will have a brief look at the course 3D Drawing and Painting page in preparation for a workshop that Chris will conduct in the art of making 2D to 3D image conversions in Photoshop via the displacement map technique. An excerpt from the 2D version of  Chris Casady’s 3D film “Tongul Torture”. We’ll view it in 3D .

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  • October 23

    Sixth 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 greyscale image used as a pixel displacing 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 Story Telling conference will then lead into individual student experiences of that latest version of Tilt Brush via the HTC Vive.
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    sleepingWoman_14_croppedImage demonstrating a 2D to 3D conversion created from Pablo Picasso’s Sleeping Woman.

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  • October 30
    Seventh class meeting. A viewing of Tole Mour VOTF 12: Blue Whales Across the Bow, and Tole Mour VOTF 12: Endless Sea Lions, as examples of stereoscopic GoPro video shot using the old GoPro 3D HERO System once available from the School of Film/Video equipment cage were postponed due to issues with the broken YouTube 3D player.  A brief demonstration on the operation of the newer GoPro Dual HERO rig for 3D  was followed up with more extensive hands on experience (and the addition of approved students to the School of Film/Video equipment cage check out list). Students shoot additional cha-cha images with narrow and wide stereo base (inter-axial distance) and bring them into StereoPhoto Maker to autocorrect for problems such as vertical mis-alignment, and rotations. The goal is to explore variations in depth created via the differing horizontal disparities in narrow and wide inter-axial distances.  During the individual work with SPM, small groups of students break away for a demo and hands on experience with the essential (and now discontinued) GoPro HERO3+ Black  cameras , particulars of their setup, and use in the GoPro Dual rig for stereoscopic video. The goal will be to approve students for cage check out of the 3D rig.  This rig is the last stereoscopic system sold by GoPro and is capable of producing excellent results (tantalizing rumors of a 3D GoPro HERO5 were apparently just that).
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  • November 6
    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, November 16, 2017. 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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  • November 13
    Ninth class meeting. We were slated to design and begin setting up the installation of this year’s course exhibition in the B&W Studio Gallery A404. However what turns out to be a fortuitous change in schedule allows us more time for  project work. The exhibition is now slated to open at 7:00pm on Thursday December 7. We will curate the space and begin installing the show in the B&W on Monday December 4.  Work continued on projects for the exhibition and a break was taken for the postponed viewing of Tole Mour VOTF 12: Blue Whales Across the Bow, and Tole Mour VOTF 12: Endless Sea Lions, as examples of stereoscopic GoPro video shot using the old GoPro 3D HERO System once available from the School of Film/Video equipment cage.  The presentation included an explanation of the difference in underwater focus caused by the older model GoPro 2 based GoPro HERO 3D System’s use of domed case lenses compared to the flat case lenses of the newer GoPro HERO 3+ Black Edition based GoPro Dual HERO System.
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  • November 20
    Tenth class meeting.  Continue work on projects.  Viewing of the stereoscopic Blu-ray, 3-D Rarities, which includes Norman McLaren’s stereoscopic films from 1951, Around-is-Around, and Now is the Time .  McLaren began exploring stereoscopic drawing, painting, mobiles, and sculpture in 1944. SFSU Professor Harold Layer has published a rare collection of McLaren’s 3-D work  including an annotated manuscript of his 1946 paper Stereographic Art.  Grayden Laing posted the following in the October 20, 2014 edition of the Canadian Animation Blog :

    “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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  • November 27
    Eleventh class meeting.  Continue work on projects for the 2017 class exhibition. Last years class activities follow: Time permitting, we will take a look at stereoscopic stop motion techniques.  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 another demonstration on shooting stereoscopic stop motion with the Mark Roberts Motion Control S3 Stereoscopic Stepper via Dragonframe and the Canon 7D DSL followed by students taking turns shooting brief animation tests with the Stereoscopic Stepper system. 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 4
    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 11:00pm, on Thursday, December 7.

    VARIAposter

    VARIA: The 2017 Explorations in Stereoscopic Imaging Course Exhibition

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  • December 11
    Thirteenth Class Meeting. Semester wrap up discussion.