FVEA 442/642 / Explorations in Stereoscopic Imaging: from Wheatstone to VR / 2016

“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 2016:

  • September 12
    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 19
    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.  The planned viewing of Jack Smith tumbling down the sidewalk in an excerpt from one of Ken Jacobs‘ original Nervous System film-performances: Two Wrenching Departures was hampered by an area wide internet connectivity problem. 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, was provided so that students could download the appropriate app to their personal devices if desired. Viewing of a YouTube 3D video slide show of 2012’s end of semester Course Exhibition in the B&W studio gallery A404 was postponed until a following class meeting (October 16)

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  • September 26
    Third class meeting cancelled due to illness.
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  • October 3
    Fourth class meeting.  Visiting artist Vibeke Sorensen made a presentation on the development and history of stereoscopic imaging , and its use by  a wide range of artists.  She also presented and discussed selections of her early work including the groundbreaking stereoscopic video, Maya (1993), and her more recent installation work, Illuminations (2013), Visharoop (2014), Mayur (2015). A small cross-eye free view version of Maya is available online
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  • October 10
    HOLIDAY
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  • October 17
    Fifth class meeting.   The GoPro Omni 360º camera system has been on backorder and has finally shipped.  We expect it to arrive in a day or two. When it does we will have a brief look at it in class and a demonstration of its use in the creation of full 360º video photospheres and their editing via the bundled Kolor Autopano Video Pro and Autopano Giga software, plus the GoPro VR Player.   We had a  brief discussion on the difficulties created by parallax differentials involved in shooting 360º images via multiple camera rigs.  Students shot cha-cha stereo image pairs with phone cams and loaded them into Masuji Suto‘s versatile StereoPhoto Maker 3D editing program in order to experiment with editing and display modes (including the glasses free wigglegram and cross-eye free viewing methods).  Due to seeing some issues with cha-cha shots made too close to foreground elements, the technique of  correcting stereoscopic window violations utilizing floating stereoscopic windows was introduced. We took a quick look at Brian Gardner’s article Perception and The Art of 3D Storytelling (accidentally neglecting to also look at his excellent paper The Dynamic Floating Window – a new creative tool for 3D movies ). We then viewed the Disney Digital Cinema Projection Training Video: 3D floating windows followed by an anaglyph projection of the test shot Hyperstereoscopic Panorama of Toulouse: Correction Test Three That hyperstereo video is a technical demonstration of the use of asymmetric dynamic Floating Stereoscopic Windows (FSW) and Horizontal Image Translation (HIT) to attempt the correction of excessive near field parallax created from shooting hyperstereo with foreground objects too close to the cameras. The two unsynced GoPro cameras were mounted 65 cm (approximately 26 inches) apart on a stereo bar attached to a tripod head. The following text quoted from the test’s YouTube description details aspects of  the experiment:

    “The asymmetric dynamic FSW’s are created by selectively animating a moderately wide mask (30 pixels) on both the left side of the left image and the right side of the right image. At the appropriate time the right and left masks rotate into the picture so that the bottom of the mask is wider than the top. This creates the illusion that the corner of the stereo window plane is tilting forward from the bottom as it floats out from the actual screen position. (the FSW does not work well in Anaglyph viewing mode due to ghosting). The excessive parallax of the parking garage parapet walls is too great to be fully corrected with the tilted FSW. Additionally the floating window cannot correct for the extreme horizontal divergence problem in these hyperstereo close up images.

    Animated Horizontal Image Translation (HIT) is used to dynamically change the position of the stereo volume and push the parapet walls back toward the zero parallax point of the stereo window. The animated HIT values range from a minimum of minus 0.018 to a maximum of plus 0.850 The downside of this approach is the creation of increased horizontal disparity in the background. The extreme ratio of this particular disparity can create discomfort due to straining eye muscles –while removing the strain inducing divergence problem that had existed for the nearest points in the foreground. An attempt is made to relax the eyes by dynamically returning the HIT to minus 0.018 as soon as the parapet wall has moved off screen,

    While this test “fix” does not fully correct the problems, it comes close and is useful as an example of how the techniques may be put into play.”

    We will view a full color version of this test and other examples during the following week’s class meeting.  Perhaps we will also be able to demonstrate the GoPro Omni rig and the stitching monoscopic 360º video.

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  • October 24

    Sixth class meeting. View a YouTube 3D slide show movie of 2012’s end of semester Course Exhibition in the B&W studio gallery A404.  View 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.  A brief demonstration on the operation of the newer GoPro Dual rig for 3D  to be 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 exploring 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).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) and C.D. refers to Caméra Droite (right).  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 Lissajous patterns to construct the left and right frames in his optically printed 1951 stereoscopic film  Around is Around.
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    michael_scroggins_in_f105_1986_creating_the_stereoscopic_animation_1921into1986_b1Working in the F105 CG Lab ca.1989 with a Wavefront Preview Cross-Eye Wireframe of 1921>1989
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  • October 31
    Seventh class meeting.  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 .  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.”

    During the screening  small groups will break out for hands on experience with using the GoPro Dual 3D rig in order to be approved for addition to the FV Cage access list.

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  • November 7

    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 shared and discussed some of the chromostereoscopic animation, drawing, and mural painting work he has done over the past year.  The viewing of  a vintage 30 second Crayola 3D Sidewalk Chalk commercial spot, Welcome to My World, was 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 14
    Ninth 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 was 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 viewed J.T Rule’s 1939 patent for  an Apparatus for Producing Stereographic Drawings, then had 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 instrument.  A discussion of the  SANDDE real-time digital stereoscopic hand drawing and painting system developed by IMAX founder Roman Kroiter was 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 lead into individual student experiences of that latest version of Tilt Brush via the HTC Vive. 


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  • November 21
    Tenth class meeting.  A continuation of last weeks topics.  Luca Cioci demonstrated the method of displacement mapped stereoscopic conversion he used in converting one of his 2D drawings into an anaglyphic 3D image (the image below comes from one of my conversion demos).  A number of students took turns working in Tilt Brush in order to explore the possibility of creating stereoscopic drawings for exhibition in the end of semester course exhibition.

    sleepingWoman_14_croppedImage demonstrating a 2D to 3D conversion created from Pablo Picasso’s Sleeping Woman
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  • November 28
    Eleventh 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 8, 2016.

    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.  A 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 5
    Twelfth class meeting.  Begin installing the end of semester exhibition in the B&W Studio Gallery A404.
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  • December 12
    Thirteenth Class Meeting. Semester wrap up discussion. Strike end of semester exhibition.