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June 2005 Issue

Vol. 3, No. 6

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The Tom Corbett Space Cadet® View-Master® Conspiracy Theory

Tom Corbett Space Cadet® View-Master®  booklet cover1954 Tom Corbett Space Cadet® View-Master® packetWere the images on the 1954 View-Master® three-reel set based on the television show Tom Corbett Space Cadet® used to condition the public about the possibility of the existence of alien life on other planets? This conspiracy theory and a detailed explanation of the images from the Tom Corbett Space Cadet® View-Master® reels are presented on the Enterprise Mission Web site.

The face on Mars at Cydonia, hyperdimensional physics, the exploding planet hypothesis and tetrahedrons are all part of the "messages" buried in the 3-D slides of the 1954 packet, according to the Web site. The images show virtually an entire history of the Cydonia investigation in one form or another, years before the discovery of the face on Mars was "announced" in 1976.

In true conspiracy theory fashion, the Web site points out that the View-Master® reels were produced pre-NASA, pre-Brookings and asks, "What did they know and when did they know it?" Was the evidence an outgrowth of data obtained from the crash of an alien spacecraft in Roswell, New Mexico? Was it produced to condition the public prior to the release of evidence of ruins in the solar system? Is the simple existence of these reels proof in of itself that the makers of this story had some inside prior knowledge of what was at Cydonia?

Click to see a larger photo of the Tom Corbett Space Cadet® View-Master® tabletop advertising displayThe Tom Corbett, Space Cadet® View-Master® reels were released in packet number 970. Solarguard.com has all 21 images from the packet posted online in non-stereo. The original images are in 3-D. The adventure consists of three reels of 21 stereo Kodachrome pictures without an overall title. However, there is a title for each of the three reels in the story.

There is no author mentioned for writing the Tom Corbett View-Master® adventure, but Florence Thomas is credited with creating the scenes. Much of the science facts in the story is consistent with theories and known facts of the time period and some of the language found in the story reflects the type of language found in material reviewed by the Tom Corbett series science consultant, Willy Ley.

Visit the Enterprise Mission Web site and ask yourself, "Do you believe?" In any case, you'll probably never look at the Tom Corbett Space Cadet® View-Master® reels in the same way again.

3-D Cinema: Viewing the Future
by Joseph Kleiman, World Enteractive Senior Correspondent, Courtesy of www.worldenteractive.com

In Three logoThis past week, I had the chance to experience the future of 3-D. Not being the world’s biggest 3-D expert, I brought along someone who very well might be, Ray Zone, author of 3-D Filmmakers: Conversations with Creators of Stereoscopic Motion Pictures. Ray has written about 3-D for The Los Angeles Times, American Cinematographer, and The Hollywood Reporter, as well as specialty publications such as Stereo World and The Big Frame. Although the trip included a 1.2K digital viewing of Sin City at the Arclight in Hollywood and an opening day 2K digital screening of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in the adjacent Cineramadome, along with a march to the Chinese Theater with a garrison of stormtroopers to bring back the line for the film’s first showing, the real treat was visiting Real D and In-Three with Ray.

On Wednesday, Ray and I drove to the Clarity Building in downtown Beverly Hills. Clarity Building is an appropriate name as it’s the headquarters for Real D. Founded by Michael Lewis, producer of IMAX 3-D hits T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous and Siegfried and Roy: The Magic Box, and Joshua Greer, whose former company, Digital Planet, was a touchstone in interactive internet marketing, Real D plans to have 1,000 of their systems installed by next summer. The Real D system includes software, circular polarizers, polarized glasses and a silver matte screen which is added onto an existing digital projection system with dual-stream server. Real D pays for the upgrade in exchange for a share of the box. When not in use for 3-D, the system can show conventional digital cinema or live presentations. The first cinema installation is currently being done at the VIP screening room at Mann’s Chinese theater complex in Hollywood. We will be returning in July to witness their system on the 50-foot wide screen.

The screen upon which we saw the demonstration was noticeably smaller, but the presentation was astounding. The demonstration was split into two portions. The first involved a number of clips from Polar Express in 3-D. Wearing polarized glasses that are some of the lightest and most fashionable I’ve ever seen, I was able to walk around the room, with the image remaining centered, no stretching or bending in any way. This has often been a major issue with large format 3-D and was even noticeable with the ShoWest demonstration, but Real D seems to have fixed this problem which means that each and every member of the audience will receive the identical presentation. The fact that Polar Express was demonstrated by both Real D and at the ShoWest demonstration leads me to believe that this winter the 3-D presentation of the film may not be exclusive to large format screens.

The second part of the presentation was a year old demonstration reel. It begins by showcasing what 3-D advertising and preshow entertainment would look like. With Real D’s software, one can input data onto a template, and within 24 hours have a specialized message, such as a birthday greeting or advertisement, appear in 3-D on the screen. They also showcased some of Steve Schklair’s 3-D photography of an NFL game, along with some 3-D extreme sports footage, to intimate what a live event would look like in 3-D.

The films showcased during the reel were all large format films. Sean Phillips’ work on T-Rex and Siegfried and Roy looked as astounding and clear in the smaller frame as on the giant screen. Some of Ben Stassen’s films were shown, including SOS Planet and Haunted Castle. There were also some clips from James Cameron’s Ghosts of the Abyss. As Ben states in Ray’s book, "Size is everything to the 2-D giant-screen production. Not so for 3-D film. Even on a smaller screen, 3-D sells……Even though the screen may be much smaller than what we are used to in large format venues, the public still gets a fully immersive experience. That’s the beauty of the third dimension." It looks like Real D will be proving Ben right.

On Thursday, we drove to Agoura Hills, to the offices of In-Three. This company, which has worked on James Cameron’s Aliens of the Abyss and is dimensionalizing™ the entire Star Wars saga for George Lucas, is growing exponentially. Currently at 100 employees and occupying a number of buildings, they are constructing a larger facility. Founded by Michael Kaye and Neil Feldman, whose respective companies Encore Video and Video Post and Transfer were at the forefront of video postproduction, In-Three is set to deliver its first dimensionlized™ film later this year.

The demonstration we saw was on a Christie 1.2K DLP projector. The quality of the image confirms Feldman’s statement that any current digital cinema projector, not just a 2K, with the addition of glasses, can play 3-D. This means that there are currently around 75 DLP cinema projectors in the US and Canada with the capability to play 3-D films through their single lens.

For the demonstration we saw, In-Three played the same clips shown at ShoWest: Star Wars: Episode II, Top Gun, Lilo and Stitch, and the opening of Star Wars: Episode IV.* Additional scenes were just as amazing. These included a collection of six to eight clips from the original Matrix, including Neo waking up in his incubation pod and the helicopter crash at the end of the film; the motorcycle game of chicken from John Woo’s Mission Impossible 2; the Greased Lightning dance sequence from Randall Kleiser’s Grease; the opening of Disney’s Treasure Planet; a poolside scene from Disney’s Tuck Everlasting, which Ray mentioned as being nearly impossible to originate in 3-D filming; and the ending of the original Spider-man, with Spidey flying through buildings and landing on top of a building grasping the American flag. The segment was so exciting that Ray yelled out "Now that’s how that film’s meant to be seen."

In-Three CEO Michael Kaye told me that they’ve also dimensionalized™ a number of black and white clips, including the ending to Casablanca. He also has no aversion to continued work in large format. This opens the possibility that classic 2-D large format films from filmmakers such as Greg MacGillivray, David Douglas and Stephen Low might experience new life in three-dimensional versions.

The digital revolution is just around the corner. I’ve heard murmurs that the financing issue may be resolved within the next month. If this happens, we can look for an acceleration of digital cinemas worldwide, quicker in international markets where specifications do not mean as much as offering the newest and best presentations for their audiences. The successful opening weekend of Star Wars: Episode III, even with issues of piracy haunting it, certainly has increased interest in digital cinema. The successful IMAX 3-D run of The Polar Express half a year ago has not only increased interest in large format 3-D, but has accelerated interest in digital 3-D as well. What Ray and I saw this past week was only a preview. By the end of the year, the future will have arrived.

*There were no scenes from Lord of the Rings, as the conversion shown at ShoWest had been done by WETA, not by In-Three.

More Star Wars III-D Items

Darth VaderBattledroidLast month's release of the third chapter in George Lucas' Star Wars saga, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith brings with it many 3-D related collectibles.

Here are more of the Star Wars 3-D items available.

Editor's Note: All Star Wars images are © Lucasfilm 2005. All rights reserved.

 

TV Guide Features Five Collectible Star Wars 3-D Lenticular Covers

The May 1, 2005, issue of TV Guide featured a series of five different Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith collectible 3-D lenticular covers. Images on the covers include Anakin Skywalker, a duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan, the Emperor, Padme and Wookies. Another cover featuring the duel image was sent to subscribers. TV Guide previously did a series of three 3-D lenticular covers when Star Wars: Attack of the Clones was released. Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image.

World Enteractive Interview: Rick McCallum, Producer of Star Wars, talks about 3-D Digital Cinema
by Joseph Kleiman, World Enteractive Senior Correspondent, Courtesy of www.worldenteractive.com
3-D Review Editor's Note: This interview was conducted prior to the opening of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith poster artRick McCallum began his long and varied career in film production as assistant to director James Ivory on the 1975 film, The Wild Party. He has had close relationships as a producer with filmmakers Nicholas Roeg and George Lucas, and for the latter has produced Radioland Murders, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles television series, the Special Editions of Episodes IV – VI of Star Wars, as well as all three films in the series’ prequel trilogy. McCallum’s newest film, “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” opens worldwide May 19. On May 3, 2005, McCallum spoke from his office at Lucasfilm with World Enteractive’s Senior Correspondent, Joseph L. Kleiman. The following Q&A is culled from that conversation:

JOSEPH KLEIMAN: Let’s start off with Episode I. This was the first film to be released digitally. How many screens was that?

RICK MCCALLUM: It was just 4 screens in Los Angeles and New York. We shot most of Episode I on film with about 25 shots shot digitally with the SONY HD camera and absolutely no-one could tell which the digital shots were.

JK: For Episode III, how many digital screens will there be?

RM: On Episode II, we had 90 digital screens in the US and 35 in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, for Episode III it’s dropped to 80 digital screens in the US, but increased to around 350 in the rest of the world.

JK: Why are you so insistent that people shoot digitally?

RM: Actually, we couldn’t care less if a filmmaker shoots on film or digitally, but if a director prefers film then, at the very least, we believe he should create a digital intermediate and have the film projected digitally. We were the first to shoot with HD digital cameras, and we were the first to edit with nonlinear systems. Now, a lot of people are very excited about the quality of the latest digital lenses, cameras and recorders. Guess what? At the end of the day the studios and the exhibitors have no other choice, it’s an adapt or dieituation. It may take 2 years, it may take 5 years or even longer but it’s going to happen.

JK: Walt Ordway of the DCI told me last week that the digital deployment may take an additional year due to security issues. You said at the Celebration III Fan Convention that a base of 3,000 screens are needed before Episode I can be exhibited in 3-D. Is that really going to happen by 2007?

RM: What I said was it would be fantastic if, by 2007, we could have 3,000 screens. We’re very optimistic about having enough screens but if there are only 1,000 to 2,000 then we’ll just have to see if we can make it work.

JK: What about the security issue?

RM: Security is a serious and ongoing issue for every movie and has been for the last decade. But one of the really cool things about digital 3-D is that you simply can’t pirate it or copy it in a theatre.

JK: Brad Wechsler, the co-CEO of IMAX told The Hollywood Reporter they had completed a 3-D conversion of a scene from Episode III. He said, and I quote here, “It looked exquisite.”

RM: First of all I’ve never even met that guy and second of all, what I’ve heard from people that I trust who have seen it, is that it didn’t look good.

JK: So are you saying that you have never met either Brad Wechsler or Rich Gelfond?

RM: Yes, that’s right. Not only have I never met them but I don’t even know who they are! I have only ever dealt with Greg Foster. You have to understand, we didn’t have a great experience working with IMAX on Episode II. A good friend of ours asked us to help IMAX out on Episode II.. They needed a big picture and we wanted to help them. But they promised us the world on Episode II, and never delivered on the number of screens they got for us. We still love the idea of large screen formats, whether they are IMAX or conventional cinema. The problem we had with IMAX was that, as they are set up now, they are just simply too expensive to work with. We loved the work that David Keighley did for us on the DMR processing, absolutely stunning, but with the rest of the IMAX overhead it just doesn’t make sense to go through all the trouble. From what I understand, none of the Disney large format releases have used their DMR process. The animated movies were recorded out to film from original high resolution proprietary digital files that Disney uses for archiving. While DKP did the record out of Fantasia, it was not the DMR process. In fact, I’ve heard that Rick Gordon at RPG handled all of the postproduction for almost all of Disney’s large format films after Fantasia, not IMAX. All of Disney’s non-animated features including Young Black Stallion, Ghosts of the Abyss, Aliens of the Deep, and I think even the upcoming Mars used original capture on various film or video formats, none of them used the DMR process. As good and efficient as David’s set-up is, you have to stop and ask, why is anyone paying millions of dollars for their overhead?

JK: So why did you even consider working with IMAX on Episode III?

RM: The reason is very simple, we had been working with In-Three for a couple of years and they had proved to us that they have a real technology that actually works and that could be done in a cost effective way. They can take any 2-D movie and with their unique technology and turn it into a realistic 3-D movie. We gave them 10 minutes of New Hope footage and just weeks later they were back with the most astonishing 3-D footage I have ever seen. Out of nowhere, IMAX got in touch with us, but we made it perfectly clear that we were not interested in working with them again in a 2-D environment. IMAX suggested a gimmick of showing the last 20-30 minutes of Episode III in 3-D and having In-Three dimensionalize™ it. We were interested in that suggestion but only if In-Three did the conversion using their process, which we were so impressed with. The only Episode III footage I gave directly to IMAX was just 3 minutes for them to do a comparison test of full-frame to 16:9 aspect ratios so that we could work out the transition between the 2-D and 3-D sections of the movie if we went ahead with their suggestion. In the end of the day it was too much of a gimmick, and it all become too much of a drama, which was a shame because I was really excited about the idea.

JK: Have you seen the clip that Wechsler mentioned?

RM: No I haven’t, nor am I interested in seeing it. And the reason is, I was very upset that IMAX had the audacity to show it to a group of executives from another studio without asking for our permission or even telling us about it!

JK: But Star Wars and IMAX have a long history together. Ben Burtt’s worked on a number of IMAX films, and the opening scene from Episode IV was reshot for the IMAX screen for Ben’s film Special Effects.

RM: No, that’s not right. Ben Burtt is one of the most versatile and consummate filmmakers in the business. He was hired to direct a film about the history of visual effects by Nova Large Format Productions who financed and produced the film. Lucasfilm gave Ben and Nova permission to include Star Wars clips in that film. There were other studios’ films included in that movie as well; it wasn’t just Star Wars. The relationship between Nova and IMAX was a strict distribution deal and IMAX had nothing to do with the making of the movie whatsoever.

JK: Do you believe that IMAX can do a live action 3-D conversion for a feature film?

RM: To tell you the truth, I have no idea. There’s a lot of confusion about who converted Polar Express. It was rendered to 3-D in CGI by Sony Imageworks and not by IMAX. But even if IMAX could do it or have done it, the problem for them is that they are always going to be limited by the number of screens they have. The fact is that the technology now exists to show 3-D movies digitally in any conventional multiplex cinema which means hundreds of screens now and eventually thousands of screens. On another note the technology is very complex and takes years to develop and I think it’s going to be difficult for anyone to suddenly jump on the bandwagon.

JK: Let’s move on to television. You produced one of my favorite series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Will you be producing the Star Wars television series as well?

RM: Really, I don’t know what I’ll be doing after this. I’m not sure if I’ll be involved in the series. We’ll be regrouping in September and will figure out then what we’re doing.

JK: Back in 1998, Tony Baxter of Walt Disney Imagineering told me that a new Star Tours film was in the works. With the ride coming on being 20 years old, and George confirming that if it ever happens, it will use a digital projection system, when is this new film going to premiere?

RM: We’ve been working on getting a new film in there for the past 16 years. This ride is definitely starting to look its age. But you need to ask Disney. They’re the ones in charge, Lucasfilm just licenses the Star Wars property to them for the ride.

JK: Any final words?

RM: We had a Digital Conference last week, here at Skywalker Ranch, with 60 great filmmakers who were all completely blown away with what In-Three did with our footage. And at the ShoWest conference in Las Vegas recently, we also showed 10 minutes of New Hope, which In-Three had dimensionalized™, to Jim Cameron, Robert Rodriguez, Randall Kleiser and Bob Zemeckis. They were stunned by the quality and I think everybody, including all the theatre owners who were there, is very excited about the future of 3-D movies.

All we care about is making movies look better in cinemas and we all need to work together – exhibitors, studios and filmmakers - to finally give the audience an experience that’s worth leaving their plasma screens and DVDs at home for. The digital 3-D process offers a whole new revenue stream for theatre owners and also gives audiences an exciting new way to look at movies.

The Color of Gold in 3-D DVD

The Color of Gold in 3-DThe Color of Gold in 3-D is now available on DVD. The Color of Gold in 3-D is a documentary featuring hundreds of actual 3-D images taken during the Klondike gold rush. The film is narrated by Norman Mailer, G. Gordon Liddy, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Robin Leach, James Randi, Linda Taylor, Jerry Harper and Gov. Tony Knowles. The 3-D portions of the DVD must be viewed using LCD field-sequential 3-D glasses, which provides 3-D viewing much superior to anaglyphic 3-D.

The story of the gold rush plays out like an episode of HBO's Deadwood. Thousands of people made their way to the gold fields to find riches, poverty, death, greed, sin and glory. The well researched documentary reveals historic tidbits you might not know all with the enhanced feeling of being there through the 3-D images.

The Color of Gold in 3-D is available from several online 3-D vendors including www.berezin.com and www.3Dstereo.com. The 45-minute DVD plays in U.S. Region DVD units and retails for $29.95.

The DVD features an excellent video transfer and well balanced audio quality. There was no problem playing back on a regular DVD unit going to TV. One technical note: The two review copies we received had problems playing back on a computer DVD player. On the computer, the disk launched as if it were an audio CD. We did get it to play in one of the three different DVD software packages we had installed on the computer. Another note about an Easter Egg on the DVD. If you let the DVD continue to play after the feature ends, it goes to Chapter Five, which looks like some leftover video from another movie showing an ill elderly woman being cared for by a Jamaican nurse followed by a scene in a bar. The Easter Egg is unrelated to the 3-D feature.

EC Comics Three Dimensional EC Classics #1 Brings Large Price at Auction

Three Dimensional EC Classics #1A recent collectible comic book auction included the EC Comics file copy of Three Dimensional EC Classics #1.

This comic book was the Gaines File pedigree (EC, 1954), which means it came from the office file copies. Rated CGC FN/VF 7.0 Off-white to white pages.

A cool Harvey Kurtzman cover fronts this interesting book. It contains previously published stories that have been redrawn in 3-D format, often by a different artist than the original. Artists for this issue include Wally Wood, Bernard Krigstein, George Evans and Graham Ingels.

According to Overstreet's Price Guide, this book is "rare in high grade due to unstable paper." The two pairs of 3-D glasses that came with the comic are included here.

Note that while CGC has certified this book as a Gaines File copy, no certificate accompanied this lot. Overstreet 2005 FN 6.0 value = $270; VF 8.0 value = $563. CGC census 2/05: 1 in 7.0, 7 higher. The current bid on May 19 was $850.

Rootie KazootieAnother 3-D comic book in the auction was Dell's 3-D-ell #1 Rootie Kazootie. Published by Dell in 1953. Condition: GD/VG. 3-D glasses included, but not still attached. Overstreet 2005 GD 2.0 value = $39; VG 4.0 value = $78. From the Larry Jacobs Collection. On May 19, the bid was at $8.

An office copy of Dell's 3-D-ell #1 bound in with other Dell titles had a bid of $300. Dell Miscellaneous Titles Bound Volumes (Dell, 1953). These are file copies which have been trimmed and bound into four hardcover volumes.

The comics included here are 3-D-ell #1 Rootie Kazootie; note that the two pairs of 3-D glasses are detached but are included with this lot); Flash Gordon #2; and Four Color #451, 453-455, 457, 459, 460, 462, 464-466, 487, 488, 490, 491, 493, 494, 496, 497, 499, 500-504, 506, 508, 510, 512-516, 518-523, 525, 527, 528, 530, 533 and 543. Approximate Overstreet VG 4.0 value for group = $750. From the Random House Archives.

Jaws 3-D Original Movie Poster Art sells for over $1,300

Jaws 3-D artworkOn May 11, 2005, Gary Meyer's original artwork used for the movie poster for 1983's Jaws 3-D was sold at auction for a final bid price of $1,314.50, including buyer's premium. Five bids were received during the auction.

The original movie poster illustration was created with mixed-media on a 40" x 28" board and was signed in the lower left by Meyer.

The final 40" x 30" Jaws 3-D movie poster contained this striking image of skiiers being menaced by a shark within the boundaries of Sea World and a large shark image on the horizon.

The poster also included three dimensional lettering super-imposed above the shark.

The same image was used for the cover art for the Jaws 3-D original motion picture soundtrack released by MCA Records in 1983.

 

Free NVIDIA 3-D Stereo Drivers Allow Anaglyphic Stereo Conversion of Almost Any Video Game

NVIDIA Stereo Enable Mode WindowIf you have a NVIDIA video card installed in your computer, you might be able to see your favorite video game in stereoscopic 3-D by installing free 3-D Stereo drivers available from NVIDIA's Web site. We're giving you links to the drivers as well as the 3-D Stereo User's Guide for each operating system.

Grand Theft Auto screen grab in stereoscopic mode.  Click for larger image.After downloading and installing the proper 3-D Stereo drivers, activate the drivers in the stereo settings and configure the stereo driver to use the red/blue glasses. Now all you have to do is start up a game and press Ctrl+T to activate the stereo. Press Ctrl+ (F3, F4, F5, or F6) to change the way it looks.

Download the stereo drivers appropriate for your computer's operating system:

3-D Stereo Driver Windows 9x/ME - 61.76 3-D Stereo Driver
Note: 61.76 3-D Stereo drivers require 61.76 ForceWare Graphics drivers to run. Please download those here.
A 53-page ForceWare 61.76 3-D Stereo User's Guide is also online in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

3-D Stereo Driver Windows XP/2000 - 71.89 3-D Stereo driver
Note: 71.89 3-D Stereo drivers require 71.89 ForceWare Graphics drivers to run. Please download those here.
A 53-page ForceWare 71.89 3-D Stereo User's Guide is also online in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

According to NVIDIA's Web site, the drivers do not work with NIVIDIA SLI.

eDimensional Rubbishes Nintendo 3-D Rumors

No "patented stereoscopic 3-D technology" for Revolution, at least not from this lot

Gaming and virtual reality accessories manufacturer eDimensional has dismissed online rumors that it is in licensing talks with Nintendo with a view to using its patented "stereoscopic 3-D technology" in future console systems.

eDimensional currently uses the technology in its Gaming Glasses and VirtualFX TV converter, designed to bring games to life in glorious 3-D.

However, the technology won't be making an appearance in Nintendo's Revolution console, despite reports to that effect in a number of online publications this week.

"Due to the overwhelming number of phone calls and e-mails inquiring about this we felt the need to acknowledge that eDimensional is in no formal discussion or negotiation with Nintendo regarding our stereoscopic 3-D technology," eDimensional CEO Michael Epstein explained.

Rumours that Nintendo is going 3-D with its next console, eDimensional and its Gaming Glasses aside, seem likely to persist regardless and for some time, if it's true that Nintendo won't be showing anything of the Revolution at this year's E3 apart from some rolling in-game footage.

Sharp 3-D Notebook Awarded NASA Tech Briefs Product of the Year Award; DDD TriDef® Software Solutions Power 'Gold Winner'

NASA Tech Briefs logoDDD Group plc, the 3-D software and content company, is proud to congratulate Sharp Corporation for taking top honors as the Gold Winner of the NASA Tech Briefs 10th Annual Readers' Choice Product of the Year Awards. The Sharp Actius RD3D is powered by a range of DDD's TriDef® software solutions supplied under license from DDD.

The award is voted upon by the readers of NASA Tech Briefs from 12 nominated Products of the Month throughout the year. The award was presented to Sharp during a special reception at the top of the John Hancock Center in Chicago, IL. NASA Tech Briefs is the largest-circulation design-engineering magazine, with more than 190,000 readers.

Dynamic Digital Depth (DDD Group)

Company:
Address:




Country:
Phone:


Web:

Summary:

DDD Group
United States of America
(Corporate Headquarters)
Dynamic Digital Depth USA Inc.
3000 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 1025
Santa Monica, CA 90405
USA
(310) 566-3340
Fax: (310) 566-3380
Toll Free: (877) 884-4333
www.DDD.com

Founded in Perth, Western Australia in May 1993 as TrueVision, with a subsequent name change to Xenotech and, ultimately, DDD, the company’s guiding mission has been to transform the visual experience by bringing glasses-free 3-D to the mass market.

In the early years, the focus was on research and development with commercialization occurring when the company licensed its TriDef® suite of software to Sharp Corporation of Japan in September 2003 for deployment on Sharp’s revolutionary 2-D/3-D switchable, glasses-free, laptop PC; the Sharp Actius RD3D.

The Sharp RD3D notebook PC combines Sharp's advanced 2-D/3-D switchable LCD with a range of DDD's TriDef® 3-D enabling software solutions aimed at users in the professional visualization market. Sharp recently introduced the successor to the Actius RD3D, the second-generation 3-D Actius AL3D notebook. Building on the foundation laid by its groundbreaking predecessor, the Actius AL3D represents a significant step up in power and style for Sharp's 3-D notebook line. Powered by Intel's brand new Pentium(R) M Processor 750, the new NVIDIA(R) GeForce(TM) Go 6600 graphics processor with 128 MB Video RAM, and stocked with 1024 MB of DDR2 SDRAM the powerful Actius AL3D is geared for high-end mobile performance.

DDD's TriDef® software supplied with the Sharp 3-D notebooks includes TriDef® Visualizer for OpenGL that enables the use of popular scientific visualization software packages without requiring the software packages to be rewritten for use with 3-D displays. One such enabled package is Mercury Computer Systems TGS amira®, that allows scientific three dimensional models to be simply and easily downloaded and viewed on the Sharp notebook for applications as diverse as medical imaging and engineering.

DDD and Sharp recently announced that they had expanded their licensing agreement to include DDD's new TriDef® DVD Player that allows any DVD movie to be converted to 3-D in real time as it is played on the Sharp 3-D notebook, further broadening the potential audience for Sharp's innovative 3-D LCD display solution.

"Sharp is honored that the readers of NASA Tech Briefs have chosen the Actius RD3D as the product of the year for 2004," said Ian Matthew, 3-D Business Development Manager at Sharp Systems of America, after the event. "Sharp's 3-D LCD Technology has gained acceptance by professionals who need the advanced stereoscopic displays for their research and development applications." Matthew added, "DDD's TriDef® software solutions are an important part of our powerful 3-D solution and clearly demonstrate to prospective customers the ease with which scientific data and models can be viewed on our 3-D notebooks and desktop PC displays."

"We are pleased to congratulate Sharp on the well-deserved award for their groundbreaking 3-D notebook PC," said Chris Yewdall, Chief Executive of DDD. "The award recognizes the combination of substantial research and development efforts by both Sharp and DDD and provides a further endorsement of the growing popularity of 3-D displays within the business and scientific communities."

3-D Center of Art and Photography Shows Dimensions in Politics and More 3-D Sea Adventures in May and June

President George W. Bush stereo pair Copyright 2004 Ernie Rairdin

"Dimensions in Politics" by Ernie Rairdin, May 20 through June 26, 2005
Ernie Rairdin has the unique opportunity to chronicle political history as it passes his Iowa doorstep every election year, and he’s been making stereoscopic images of candidates since 1987. Dimensions in Politics captures the atmosphere as well as the personalities in this collection of photojournalistic stereocards.

"Further 3-D Sea Adventures" by John Roll, May 20 through June 26, 2005
The stereo theatre will present Further 3-D Sea Adventures, a chance to marvel at the beauty of ocean creatures without getting wet. Photographed by John Roll, this excursion into the depths of the sea will be shown hourly.

An opportunity to see the beauty and majesty of ocean creatures without getting wet! The show is a breathtaking look into the sea.

John is an Interventional Neuroradiologist from Portland . He and his wife, Dace, have traveled extensively. John enjoys trying to use various camera systems, depending on the subject mater. This has led to many modifications and experiments with equipment. He is a part of a small group of underwater stereo photographers. The peculiar demands of taking good images underwater have led to his development of his own set of cameras and housings.

His stereo photography is not limited to underwater subjects and his shows have been presented by the National Stereoscopic Association and International Stereoscopic Union. Many have been award winning presentations; all have been a visual delight. His wife, Dace, is the membership treasurer of the International Stereoscopic Union. She shares his enthusiasm for stereo photography and often helps find music and offers advice about the choice of images for the shows.

The 3-D Center of Art and Photography is located at 1928 NW Lovejoy in Portland, Oregon. Call (503) 227-6667. Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and every first Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.

Brazil Stock Market Tourism: BOVESPA Through 3-D Glasses
by Bill Hinchberger Courtesy of brazilmax.com

Investors are sometimes accused of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. But it was a pair of 3-D ones that the attendant handed me as I entered the São Paulo Stock Exchange.

Yes, it was a pair of those throwaway spectacles with their flimsy cardboard frames, the ones made infamous by fifties movies like The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Here I was in the trading pit of the Bovespa (the institution’s Portuguese acronym), fumbling to fit this friggin’ contraption over my ears.

About two dozen people were milling around, like me, trying on their glasses. A few rows of seats lined one side of the room. One set was occupied by three generations: flabby grandma in flip-flops and Bermuda shorts, mom in copycat garb, and a cutely swaddled baby in mom’s lap. Young couples distanced themselves in self-contained clusters. Above, along one wall, I spotted the electronic board with numbers left over from Friday’s trading session. On the opposite end, at ground level, cabinets not unlike those in the locker room at my health club occupied the wall. Each sported the name of a Brazilian brokerage: Itaú, Planner, Fator, Ativa, Theca...

José Luiz Sanches, a former pit trader downsized out of the Theca locker in 1999, slid up to the microphone at the podium. Front and center, below the electronic board. He announced the main attraction. It would be a 3-D educational documentary about the stock market and how it works. When the movie started, I half expected a bull from the old Merrill Lynch spots to charge out at me, or Yogi Bear to reach out to grab my wallet. Instead I saw a Carnavalesque ox costume from the bumba-meu-boi festival in Maranhão, an image that illustrated one of Bovespa’s “social investment” schemes.

Few regular people understand how stock or futures markets work. Yet we’ve all seen the movie Trading Places: we remember Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd among the floor traders muscling in on each other, their arms outstretched, frantically waving strips of paper, outdoing Max Cavalera with their frantic screams. Some of us have even read accounts by Ivan Sant’Anna, the Brazilian trader-turned-novelist and author of Rapina.

With the growing dominance of electronic trading, the pit trader has become just another Brazilian endangered species. Over one thousand populated the Bovespa floor a decade ago; their numbers have dropped to under a hundred today. Yet, with the upstairs windows that line the area, allowing visitors and clerical workers the chance to gaze down for a voyeuristic thrill, the pit remains one of those mysterious inner sanctums, something like the turf at Maracanã.... Well, you get the idea.

Bovespa is capitalizing on the pit’s allure as part of its “popularization” scheme. On weekends its Bolsa Aberta program transforms the pit into a financial Discoveryland, allowing all-comers a chance to play Murphy and Ackroyd. The 3-D short explains the basics of equity investment. Former floor traders like Sanches, together with current brokers and representatives of listed companies like mining giant Vale do Rio Doce, stand by ready to answer questions. “I was curious,” explained one visitor, Carlos Alberto D’Annibale. “I knew about all the craziness. Now I understand a little about how it works.”

During the first 35 days of Bolsa Aberta, some 12,000 folks like Carlos Alberto donned their 3-D glasses in the pit. Leading Brazilian tourism agencies like Andanças and CVC have begun to include Bovespa on their weekend downtown circuits. “People come from all income groups, from A to Z. Many have little sense of how things work, but they are very interested,” said Alice Bueno Moraes, a broker with Novoinvest.

According to the broker, the first question is nearly always the same: “Is there a minimum investment?”

That gives her an opening to tout Bovespa’s investment clubs. Under the scheme, like-minded people (from a workplace, a neighborhood, a social club or whatever) can pool resources in an exclusive equity fund. Since Bovespa began its drive to attract individual investors in 2002, the number of investment clubs has grown from under 400 to over 1,000. Over that same period, the percentage of individual investors in Bovespa has jumped from 18 percent to 30 percent. “This is striking,” said Deiwes Rubira, Brazil country manager for the Amsterdam-based ING Bank. “The people at Bovespa have gotten it right. The market is small, and the risk has decreased as shareholding has become more widespread.”

The Bolsa Aberta grew out of another program called Bovespa Where You Are. That initiative sends a Bovespa van to public areas, from busy summer beach resorts to Amazon hideaways, spreading the good word about equity investment. Many people expressed interest in seeing the pit, noted Luis Abdal, Bovespa’s marketing and communications manager. After a stock market honcho visited the Kuala Lumpur bourse learning of its annual weeklong on-site public education programs, Bovespa officials launched the weekend open house.

So far pit visitors seem relatively knowledgeable compared to some who saunter up to the far-flung van. In Portuguese, of course, “bolsa” can mean both stock market and handbag. Imagine how the ex-pit trader at the van felt when he heard the question: “What materials are your ‘bolsas’ made of?”

Making Tele-Contact: 3-D Film and The Creature From the Black Lagoon

Editor's note: The following article is a university paper that contains several factual errors. It is presented here in it's original form. Source: Nicholas Anderson, www.extrapolation.com

Creature from the Black Lagoon title creditsTo see at a distance...that was the essence of the audio- visual perspective of old. But to reach at a distance, to feel at a distance, that amounts to shifting the perspective towards a domain it did not yet encompass: that of contact, of contact-at-a- distance: tele-contact. - Paul Virilio

Initially seen very much as a novelty item, as but one more element of the American film industry's response to what Annette Kuhn terms "the audience-stealing appeal of television" (26), 3-D cinema of the 1950s has typically been dismissed as a gimmick by critics and historians. Since it was used largely in fantastic genres (indeed, its most famous examples are probably from science fiction It Came from Outer Space and the horror film House of Wax, required viewers to wear unwieldy cardboard glasses, and seemed insistently to depend on effects that intruded into the audience's space, it came to be identified as a disconcerting if not quite threatening technique, and its quick disappearance seemed evidence of general audience dissatisfaction, especially with the sense of physical discomfort it caused, which pointedly flew in the face of its supposed rationale of luring audiences back into theaters. Yet this typical historical account of the form omits one of 3-D's more interesting effects, one that must have functioned as both an invitation and an imposition, an attraction and part of the disconcerting effect 3-D had on audiences. Paul Virilio's recent work on how the cinema and other modern communication technologies have affected our sense of reality might offer an interesting lead in this regard, adding a bit more depth and understanding to the historical view of 3-D film, particularly as it flourished in the early 1950s. By looking at one of the most famous 3-D films, Jack Arnold's The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), in terms of Virilio's notion of "tele-contact," we might better gauge both the appeal and disturbance of 3-D, perhaps even understand how part of what it offered was also part of its problem.

Creature and GignerAttendant upon the development of new technologies of vision and contact in the twentieth century, Virilio has noted a "crisis of the conceptualization of 'dimension'" (24). The automobile, airplane, our various audiovisual systems (including film), even contemporary architecture-all of which he groups under the heading of "means of communication"-have produced what he terms a "collection of spatial and temporal mutations that is constantly reorganizing both the world of everyday experience and the aesthetic representations of everyday life" and, in turn, affecting our very "perception of the environment" (21) we inhabit. And while our popular entertainments, especially film, have variously pursued Andre Bazin's famous formulation of the "myth of total cinema"-a myth involving convincing representation, including a natural "relief or depth in reproduced images (20)-we have ironically produced a kind of "lost dimension" or draining of reality in Virilio's eyes. An element of that irony, I would suggest, shows up in one of the preeminent efforts at achieving that Bazinian "relief," 3-D film of the 1950s.

Three-D film processes have a long history predating the brief industry fascination of the 1950s, and in light of Bazin's assertion about film's driving "myth," this interest seems quite natural. Prior to the appearance of the movies, Sir Charles Wheatstone had already developed the stereopticon, providing for three-dimensional viewing of photographs as a popular entertainment. And with film's introduction came periodic efforts at achieving that Bazinian ideal. The Lumire brothers experimented with 3-D for one of their early shorts; a feature film, The Power of Love, along with several short subjects, appeared in 3-D in 1922; throughout the 1930s the MGM shorts department offered a number of Pete Smith Specials, or "audioscopiks," using the process (Cook 466); and in 1939 the Chrysler exhibit at the New York World's Fair offered a 3-D film that drew an estimated 1.5 million viewers (Kerbel 12). The greatest surge of 3-D production, though, occurred in the early 1950s, sparked by the box office success of Arch Oboler's B-film Bwana Devil in 1952 and the simultaneous industry-wide drive to combat television. A measure of the form's early success can be seen in the low-budget horror film House of Wax. One of 23 3-D features released in 1953, it proved to be the year's seventh-highest grossing movie, an accomplishment all the more remarkable given the Hollywood emphasis that year on big budget epics such as The Robe, Titanic and From Here to Eternity.

Basil Gogo's painting of The Creature from the Black LagoonThe wide variety of 3-D movies that appeared as the film industry sought to cash in on such early successes ranged across the spectrum of popular genres. Among the most noteworthy of those appearing between 1953 and 1955 were musicals like Kiss Me Kate and Those Redheads from Seattle (both 1953), horror films such as House of Wax and The Mad Magician (1954), westerns like Gun Fury and Hondo (both 1953), thrillers such as Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder (1954), and science fiction films like It Came from Outer Space (1953) and Gog (1954). Yet by 1954 when Creature from the Black Lagoon was released both audience and industry interest in 3-D was already on the wane, with only 13 films made in the process that year and but one in 1955, and many of these were only released in standard format.2 The form would not be significantly revived until the early 1960s in such films as September Storm (1960), The Mask (1961), and another Arch Oboler effort, The Bubble (1966), and then again in the early 1970s in works aimed at an exploitation or specialized market, such as Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (1974) and soft-porn efforts like The Stewardesses (1970) and Prison Girls (1972). More recently, 3-D's place has largely been usurped by IMAX presentations, which do not require wearing special glasses, or it has become a feature of amusement-park attractions, such as those at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.3

Of course, wide screen technologies like Cinemascope were also marketed at this time as offering a 3-D effect. As John Belton notes, Fox advertised its Cinemascope process in precisely this way as it sought "to distinguish its new product from traditional flat films," while also hoping to exploit the public's fascination with the novelty of 3-D photography (114). The problems with that association were, first, that wide-screen films, including those done in Cinerama, did not employ a true binocular stereo photography process, and second, that the wide-screen narratives of the time played off of a rather different emphasis than did 3-D products. With a few exceptions (such as Kiss Me Kate), most of the 1950s 3-D efforts were cheaply and quickly made, more in the vein of traditional B-films than of the spectacles that Fox and other major studios were producing to take best advantage of their wide-screen processes. Visual spectacle or richness was, consequently, neither the emphasis nor the strong point of most 3-D productions. While the new wide-screen films mainly exploited the cinematic capacity that Virilio might term "to see at a distance"-hence, the debate during the period about the ability to shoot close-ups or two-shots in wide- screen-the 3-D films actually mined a different effect, the seemingly individualized ability to "reach at a distance," along with what I see as its correlative, the capacity of what we saw to "reach" each of us in various ways.

Certainly, much of 3-D's appeal, both then and now, lies in the way in which, like a kind of amusement-park thrill ride or attraction, it almost intimately addresses and exposes each member of the audience, placing each viewer in what seems a rather precarious position. This situation results partly from what Michael Kerbel describes as the sense that "the screen assaulted us with whatever wasn't nailed down," as 3-D narratives drew on every opportunity to have various objects hurtle or project toward the camera. That emphasis followed from the form's unusual level of subjectivity; as Kerbel puts it, this "was the era of the gratuitous point-of-view shot" (15). But that technique simply exploited the basic 3-D impression: that each effect was precisely aimed at the individual viewer, as if a kind of personal contact was possible. Through that impression the audience, like the on-screen characters, could seemingly have, as the poster for Bwana Devil promised, "A lion in your lap...a lover in your arms." Yet obviously, the payoff was never as advertised-no lions or lovers, just a different sort of narrative experience, and one accompanied by those uncomfortable glasses, some eyestrain, and possible headaches. While such things might go unnoticed or simply be accepted for the brief duration of a thrill ride, they are difficult to put up with for a feature-length narrative.

Creature trading cardIt is precisely the nature of that special sort of narrative experience that I want to explore here with The Creature from the Black Lagoon, partly because it was one of the more successful entries in the 3-D craze, but also because its narrative repeatedly foregrounds and explores this "contact effect." Director Jack Arnold came to this project with an unusual level of familiarity \with 3- D, having already made two films in the process, the film noir The Glass Web and the science fiction movie It Came from Outer Space (both 1953). As a result, he probably understood better than most filmmakers of the time both the strengths and possible drawbacks of the process. Certainly, he was familiar enough with 3-D to begin considering what sort of thematic possibilities might be mined from it, particularly since, as we noted, by 1954 its appeal was wearing thin. If the technology seemed invasive, registering with audiences as a kind of threat-and not just to the self but, as Virilio argues, to our sense of the fabric of reality-then perhaps that effect could be turned into a benefit; the technology and the monstrous presence at the heart of a film like Creature might be profitably linked. The new creature that, as Rick Altman notes, Universal Pictures had decided to market not as a traditional monster but as a "science- fiction creature" (78-79), a new sort of hybrid menace starring in a generic hybrid of science fiction and horror, might tap or even embody the discomfort bound up in this cinematic hybrid, that is, in the 3-D experience that seemingly linked seeing and feeling. We might find in the creature-a figure that scientists set out to capture, only to find that it tries to capture them-a commentary on this technique's problematic character.

Peter Biskind has pigeonholed The Creature from the Black Lagoon as typical of what he terms "centrist films" of the 1950s, works that are essentially conservative warnings about "nature run amuck" (107)-here rendered a bit more vividly and dramatically through 3- D. And there is much reason to this view, since, as Erich Kuersten points out, "conservation was entering public consciousness in a big way" at the time with the formation of the Keep America Beautiful organization, the Water Pollution Control Act and various other environmental initiatives (29). Set in the remote reaches of the Amazon, in an area that time has seemingly forgotten, Creature tells a story of modern scientists who intrude into a natural world, respond to it with violence as they try to take back part of it for study and/or exploitation, and in turn suffer the consequences of their actions.

Yet a further dimension of that environmental narrative, one that explores why we respond to nature in such problematic ways, gets overlooked from this vantage. As David Skal offers, many of "the shudders" found in these films "come from the implied question of humanity's ultimate place in the ecosystem, where we are already entangled with a complex web of insects, microbes, and other 'insignificant' life forms, of which, science tells us, we may be just another passing example" (192). Thus Creature makes its greatest visual capital, that on which 3-D depends, by emphasizing the threatening side of a realm that has not evolved like the rest of our world and thus poses a challenge to it. While the "gill man" that is discovered in this environ is categorized as an evolutionary "dead end," it is nonetheless disturbing to modern humans who seek to understand their own past, to assert their position as evolution's ultimate achievement, and to identify themselves as the knowers-and thus, after a fashion, as the controllers-of that evolutionary mechanism. The film's focus, consequently, is just as much on mankind's own threatened situation, particularly problematic in an era when we were faced with possible extinction through our technological prowess, with, in effect, being possessed by our atomic technology. Of course, Creature-and no less the two sequels that would appear in short order-does emphasize our own dangerous nature, our tendency to intrude, to interfere, and to attempt to profit from the natural world, particularly through the scientist Mark Williams, who is pointedly concerned with how much foundation money he can attract by discovering an evolutionary missing link. In the process the film reveals another conservative dimension at work, as it explores the consequences of our crossing forbidden borders (implicating our newfound atomic capacity for rendering our own species extinct), of trying to see into areas we were not meant to probe, or seeing in ways we traditionally had not-all elements in which we can see Creature's narrative trajectory and its 3-D techniques intersecting.

Creature begins to establish that intersection in its opening sequence, as it uses 3-D effects to visualize evolutionary theory. A smoky backdrop of the heavens initially obliterates any real depth cues, while a voice-over describes the evolutionary development of life on Earth, culminating with a "big bang" that sends rocks and debris hurtling toward the camera. A series of dissolves and tracking shots follows, as the narrator describes the development of life "of infinite variety" in Earth's seas and, through the mobile camera that follows tracks leading from water's edge to land, suggests that the record of that "variety" of life is "written on the land" in the fossil record. A dissolve leads to another tracking shot through a jungle encampment to a riverbank, which moves in for a close-up of a fossilized clawing hand, protruding from the bordering rock and reaching directly towards the camera, toward the audience. The flying debris, repeated tracking shots and reaching hand capitalize on 3-D's depth illusion in generally expected ways, while also suggesting that the ensuing narrative may be about depth as well, what the world around us might yet reveal, and particularly about the implications for modern life of what our probings might still discover-the implications of that reaching hand.

The subsequent introduction of the central figures, the Ichthyologist David Reed and his assistant Kay Lawrence, develops both the opening theme and the narrative's implicit concern with depth. For we meet them on the Brazilian coast with Mark Williams' expedition, as David practices scuba diving, "getting used to the changing pressure" of the deep, as Kay explains, and an underwater shot underscores her point by showing David slowly ascending along a line to the surface marked with depth indicators. Here and back in their lab, the film further plays off of that depth experience, lets us get "used to" it as well, by shooting through the water and through an aquarium tank in the latter scene's foreground, to place us in that same alien environment, while taking advantage of the water's near-transparency to create the impression that fish are swimming all around and towards us. By concluding this sequence with a jarring cut back to the opening archeological site in Brazil, the film reminds us of the menace implicit in that other depth experience, as a live version of the creature's hand surfaces from the water and the creature then attacks the natives attending to the camp. For much of this final scene, as was at times the case in Arnold's previous 3-D feature It Came from Outer Space, we share the creature's point of view, particularly as the Indians in turn look in terror directly at the camera and the creature's claws reach out to make contact with them, grabbing each by the face and killing him. Here and elsewhere, the thrill of seeing in depth leads to a disturbing contact with that threedimensional world, or rather, its very dangerous contact with our world.

The subsequent expedition to the archeological site sketches the larger terms of this dramatized tele-contact, as the expedition's boat, the Rita, makes its way first to Professor Carl Maia's base camp and then into a dark Amazonian backwater, the aptly termed "Black Lagoon." In the first part of the trip, the overhanging vines and branches of the jungle fully exploit the 3-D effect as the Rita glides through the water; and a series of looks of outward regard from David and Kay and their accompanying subjective views, particularly of vines, broken limbs and obstacles protruding from the water, stretching towards the camera, as if inviting our touch, further to lure us into the depth illusion. At the end of this passage, though, lies the grisly evidence of the dangerous contact awaiting them, as they discover the bodies of Carl's Indian workers. The journey's second part involves going into the Black Lagoon, as Lucas, the boat's captain, carefully steers it through various obstacles and finally between two large outcroppings into what Kay terms "another world." The repeated tracking shots, marked by protruding obstacles, again emphasize the tele-contact impulse at work here, while also adding a further forbidding note, as Lucas points out that the Lagoon was rumored to be "a paradise," but that, like the dead Indians, "no one has ever come back to prove it."

Creature swims under girl.The emphasis that follows from this entry into the Lagoon is, fittingly, on the near and pointedly disconcerting contacts that the scientists experience in this other world, one judged to be "unchanged since the Devonian period." As soon as they arrive, Mark and David don scuba gear and explore the Lagoon's depths, surveying the area, collecting rock samples, and nearly encountering the Creature, whose claw again reaches out as they pass, fails to make contact, but once more projects towards the camera, recalling the fossil seen earlier. When Kay decides to go for a swim, the Creature moves closer, mimics her motions just beneath the water's surface, and, when she begins to tread water, reaches for and touches her foot, momentarily giving her a start at what might be within these depths. Following her back to the boat and again reaching for her, the Creature runs afoul of the Rita's net and is nearly brought to the surface before it rips the net and escapes. This sequence of increasingly close encounters or near contacts ends with the net being hoisted into the air to display a gaping hole, one that serves not only as a sign of the dangers of these depths and of a disconcerting contact with its denizens, but also as a mark of the real disturbance here: something unaccounted for, a possible hole in the very fabric of reality for these scientists who can only ask, in wonder, "What was it?"

The answer to that question surfaces in the subsequent debate between Mark and David about how to deal with this phenomenon, as well as the play of capture and escape that the rest of the narrative describes. For Mark, who is focused on the money and fame that a key find might bring, the creature is something to make contact with, in fact, to bring back at all costs; "Dead or alive, what's the difference?" he offers, as David likens him to a "big game hunter." In contrast, David simply wants to find evidence of the creature, to see it, preferably at a properly scientific distance. Fittingly, he cautions Mark in a way that draws the lines between observation and contact, between older and newer perspectives: "We're out for photographs for study, not trophies." And the tools each takes into the depths of the lagoon underscore this distinction, as David carries an underwater camera, while Mark bears a spear gun, a weapon repeatedly pointed towards the camera during the dive, thereby gaining the maximum dimensional effect from the device, while also, and perhaps ironically, placing the viewers precisely in the position of greatest jeopardy. By all visual evidence, this contact, this movement into the depths of another world, seems a more dangerous than rewarding business.

Creature trading cardYet the more subtle sort of danger involved here has to do with what the creature represents, with another version of the hole these hunters find in their net. Thus Mark argues for capturing or killing the creature on the basis of science itself and how it customarily deals with such gaps. As he tells his companions, "They won't believe it back home, none of them," without the creature itself as proof, precisely because the scientific world deals "with known quantities, with knowledge we've accumulated up to now," while the creature represents something unaccounted for, a hole in human knowledge. It is an argument that wins out, particularly when Lucas, the Rita's captain, suggests a sort of compromise, the use of rotenone, a native drug, an element of this world that might allow them to capture the creature without killing it, that is, to make contact and study the gill man.

That approach is figured on the basis of the creature being much like a fish or even a primitive reptile throwback, something epistemologically unthreatening. Yet what quickly becomes clear is that this figure is a fish of another sort, in many ways a mirror image of man, a link to another history. It embodies another possible evolutionary path, and one not as easily dealt with as those fish the scientists kill or stun with rotenone. The film develops this possibility through a series of pointed links between the gill man and humans, such as when David describes how "it appeared to be human," when Lucas recounts a legend about "a man who lives underwater," and when Kay, as she swims through the waters of the lagoon, evokes an explicitly human response from the creature, which seems sexually attracted to her and subsequently repeatedly pursues her.4 The cumulative effect of these incidents is to suggest another sort of depth here, one that cannot be so easily measured and a contact that finally might not be desirable. For the creature's response to the group develops in parallel to their own, as he kills off the expedition members one by one, tries to capture Kay-thereby replacing her fiancee David-and then tries to ensnare them all by closing off the lagoon, filling its mouth with tree limbs like those we initially saw projecting three-dimensionally from the river banks, seemingly inviting contact as the Rita had edged its way into this other world. In effect, much like 3-D, it turns that experience of depth back upon the scientists, as they experience the potential for that missing link to reach them, as it does when it kidnaps Kay and kills Mark and Lucas' crew.

Creature Walks Among Us trading cardThe resolution to this round of parallel contacts and efforts at entrapment is fittingly played out in another sort of inversion. For after the gill man captures Kay and takes her down into the depths of the lagoon, it surfaces in a hidden grotto that opens onto the beach; the movement into its secret depths ultimately leads back to the surface world. There David, Carl, and Lucas find it, shoot it, and rescue Kay, as the final shot shows the creature sinking down into the dark depths of the lagoon, apparently dead at last and the contact between these two worlds definitively shut off. But that visual mapping out of the way in which the surface and water worlds intersect through an underwater hole in the rocks-a connection previously played out for us when David and Mark had chased the creature over this same route-seems the more telling part of this narrative's conclusion. For it brings these two worlds into contact, affirms the link between the humans and the gill man-a link that would eventually provide the plot for the sequel The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) and underscores the dangers of crossing the various boundaries that have been dramatized here, boundaries based on the Earth's evolution, on physical barriers, and on biology.

And as I have suggested, they are also boundaries that attend the sort of contact implicated in 3-D's illusion of depth. For the very hallmarks of the technique, at least as it was employed in its 1950s heyday-here, seen in such effects as firing spears towards the camera, emphasizing the branches and vines that dangle towards the camera and tease at contact, or placing the camera in the position of a character like Kay as the gill man attacks her-offer more than simple visual frissons. They pointedly work to violate our space, only to then leave us sensing something amiss, something unaccounted for, as if there were a hole in our world and our experience. For in appropriating a representational or symbolic space, that of the film narrative, and offering it to us as a tactile, lived (or livable) space, those effects engage us in a risky game. They hold the potential for draining the depth from our own world, suggesting a level on which it too might be little more than representational.5

Here is the larger implication of Virilio's analysis of contemporary culture's increasing "cinematization," and the link between his critique and the problem of contact foregrounded by 3-D technology. He observes a subtle fallout from postmodern culture's increasing emphasis on tele-contact: a general distortion of our traditional sense of space, and particularly "the decay of visible markers, the loss of sensible referents" (140)-the creation of holes or gaps in our experience of the world. Narratively, that "loss" is here figured in an alternative evolutionary history, that is, in gaps in the Earth's and mankind's history. As those gaps surface and become insistent, they trouble our own position as evolution's seemingly ultimate product, suggesting that we are but one more instance ofthat "infinite variety" of life conjured up in the primordial soup, and an instance that might yet have to struggle for survival and supremacy with other creatures potentially more powerful than us. Technologically, it suggests the unsatisfying nature of the 3-D effect, what Wheeler Winston Dixon terms its "central problem," that "once the 3-D illusion is intellectually surrounded ... we realize we are not 'at risk' at all" (91). The many reaching hands here, whether the creature's or our own, make no real contact, and while that empty relationship might produce a brief thrill, it also generates a sense of disorientation, as if we too were lost in the very "lost dimension" that Virilio cites.

Creature Walks Among Us trading cardWhile Creature from the Black Lagoon did spawn several sequels, Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Creature Walks Among Us, only the first of these was shot in 3-D and it was not released in that format. Yet both, after a fashion, continued the story of the two disturbing hybrid creatures discussed here, of the gill man and of 3-D. For each film further explores not simply, as Biskind would say, "nature run amuck," but rather the menace implicit in breaking down the boundaries between different worlds, different realities, even different modes of perception simply because our modern technologies let us do it. We might well be able to re-engineer nature, to give a gill-man lungs and have him "walk among us," as the last of the series offers, and to have those images seem to extend into our world. But in so doing, we also risk the consequences of opening onto that cinematic reality, the risk not of gaining a sense of dimension but of losing it or punching holes in it by, as Virilio theorizes, making our world and our selves seem less substantial, as if both were little more than a "phase or reflection" of light. It is a fate, of course, that we have continued to tempt, as we have explored other ways of reproducing our world's depth: rendering everything digitally, constructing virtual worlds and situations, making our world and our very lives seem ever more cinematic. Walking among those shadowy images and breathing their atmosphere somehow seem like desirable goals today, yet they are precisely the ones against which, in a subtle and technical way, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and some of its 3-D brethren, in the best horror and science fiction tradition, once provided us a most graphic early warning.

Notes

  1. Over the years the story of Bwana Devil's success seems to have become rather exaggerated. As Michael Kerbel notes, the bottom line for this admittedly cheaply done production was somewhat less spectacular than rumored. It brought in a $2.7 million gross on a $300,000 production cost, ranking it behind twenty-five other domestic releases in earnings for 1953. \see Kerbel, p. 14.
  2. In his study of the changing movie box office, John Izod argues the Hollywood studios "were so keen to exploit the system" of 3-D that "they killed it by sacrificing plot, character and quality to cheap screenplays that arbitrarily contrived a succession of excuses for hurling objects at the audience" (140).
  3. As examples we might note the Disney EPCOT attraction, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, a filmed presentation that draws on the popular Honey, I Shrunk the Kids films, the Disney-MGM Studios show, Muppets 3-D, a development of the Muppets television series, and the Disney Animal Kingdom's It's Tough to be a Bug, which was developed from the studio's animated film A Bug 's Life. Universal's best-known attraction in this vein is the James Cameron-created combination of live action and 3-D film, Terminator 3-D.
  4. Several commentators have noted the erotic dimension the narrative develops between the creature and Kay Lawrence. In a broader discussion of sexuality in science fiction films, David Thomson, for example, describes how the creature "has the look of a surreal phallus as it rears up toward the swimming spread-eagle of actress Julie Adams on top of the water" (60). While the swimming scenes were, in fact, done by a stand-in, Ginger Stanley, Adams herself has recognized the erotic power of this and similar scenes in the film; as she aptly notes in a recent interview, "the white bathing suit became famous" (Michalski 71).
  5. For parts of this discussion I am indebted to Anthony Vidler's account of the "production and reproduction of space" in contemporary architecture, and especially the sense of "anxiety" that derives from certain constructions of space (12).

Works Cited

  • Altman, Rick. Film/Genre. London: BFI Publishing, 1999.
  • Biskind, Peter. Seeing is Believing: How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love the Fifties. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983.
  • Dixon, Wheeler Winston. It Looks at You: The Returned Gaze of Cinema. Albany: State U of New York P, 1995.
  • Izod, John. Hollywood and the Box Office, 1895-1986. New York: Columbia UP, 1988.
  • Kerbel, Michael. "3-D or not 3-D." Film Comment 16.6 (1980): 11- 20.
  • Kuersten, Erich. "Between the Jungle and the Stars: The Creature Trilogy." Scarlet Street 46 (2002): 28-31, 40-42,46-48, 52-53, 56, 72-74.
  • Kuhn, Annette. "History of the Cinema," in The Cinema Book. Ed. Pam Cook. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985. 2-49.
  • Michalski, Michael. ""Bathing Beauty and the Beast: Julie Adams Interviewed." Scarlet Street 46 (2002): 32-34, 70-71.
  • Skal, David J. Screams of Reason: Mad Science and Modern Culture. New York: Norton, 1998.
  • Thomson, David. "Sex in Science Fiction Films: Romance or Engineering?" Omni's Screen Flights/Screen Fantasies: The Future According to Science Fiction Cinema. Ed. Danny Peary. Garden City: Doubleday, 1984. 56-66.
  • Vidler, Anthony. Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000.
  • Virilio, Paul. The Lost Dimension. Trans. Daniel Moshenberg. New York: Semiotext(e), 1991.
  • Copyright University of Texas at Brownsville Fall 2004.

View-Master® Is Used to Bring Businesses to Polk County Florida
by Kyle Kennedy - The Ledger, Lakeland, Florida

Kris KepriosThe latest thing showcasing Polk's business community doesn't look like it belongs in an office or boardroom. In fact, you probably last saw one stuffed in a toy box. But Fisher-Price's classic 3-D View-Master® is the centerpiece of a marketing campaign headed by county economic development and tourism officials.

"The idea is to have new businesses take a look at Polk in an unconventional way," said Tom Patton, executive director of the Central Florida Development Council. "It's to have them gain an awareness of who Polk County is and let them know that we want to recruit their next project," Patton said.

About 4,700 View-Masters have been sent to companies in five industries targeted by the CFDC: Food processing, electronics, medical, business and professional services and manufacturers of home construction products.

Each toy comes with two reels of 3-D slides that feature local meeting and convention sites, as well as Fortune 500 companies that have facilities here (e.g. Publix Super Markets, State Farm Insurance).

Patton hopes that recipients will like what they see, and consider Polk as a place to expand their business or host company functions. Something like the View-Master® helps to distinguish Polk and keep the attention of busy executives, he said.

"These guys don't make decisions every day" on where to expand or hold meetings, Patton said. "We have to be in their face, let them know we want them."

Early stages of the marketing campaign featured economic fact sheets and postcards of Polk executives swimming, fishing and playing golf. Altogether, the effort has cost about $70,000, Patton said, with roughly $47,000 of that spent on View-Masters. Patton said the response has been good so far. A handful of companies have expressed interest in doing business here, he said.

Fisher-Price spokeswoman Dana Marciniak said the toymaker gets regular orders from businesses that want to use View-Master® for new product promotions and contests. The 66-year-old gadget, encased in signature red plastic, is surprisingly quite effective as a marketing device, she said.

"You get all that material and envelopes in the mail, but no one is going to resist looking at a View-Master®," Marciniak said.

Mark Jackson, director of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, said the View-Master® has special appeal for those who grew up with the toy.

"A lot of people from that era are in decision-making positions now," he said. "There's a bit of nostalgia built in there."

Patton said he used the View-Master® for a promotion years ago, when he was an advertising manager for John Deere®. Before that, he had one during his boyhood. "You know what the slides were? Cypress Gardens," he said. "I loved it. I guess it must have carried with me for a long time."

ASU’s Decision Theater ushers in new age of public policy

Decision Theater logoA new age is dawning on public policy, one based on advanced scientifically informed decision making, with the May 23, 2005, opening of the Decision Theater at Arizona State University.

The Decision Theater is an advanced visualization environment that will enable policy makers and others to literally see, in detailed, three-dimensional representation, the consequences of their actions. It will feature a 260-degree “immersive environment” where researchers will be able to view the effects of public policy decisions played out before them.

“The Decision Theater is an exciting new concept that melds science with public policy in a novel way, which we expect will have a huge impact in a number of socially important areas,” says ASU President Michael Crow. “The Decision Theater will provide informed analysis based on scientific evidence to key public policy experts, who then can use that analysis on which to discuss issues and provide a basis for sound policy decisions.”

Inside Decision TheaterAs a tool designed to aid the public, the Decision Theater will focus on real-world issues relevant to today’s society. Using computer models and computer visualization techniques, the Decision Theater will enable researchers to test the outcomes of decisions made on such topics as urban growth and water usage, and the effects of policy decisions on public health and on a myriad of environmental and social challenges.

“We are connecting science to the community with this new facility,” says Decision Theater Executive Director Rick Shangraw. “The Decision Theater will be an important resource for policy makers by providing interactive forums to identify and assess probable outcomes of real-world decisions, review the potential impacts of varying policy decisions, and provide visualizations of alternative scenarios and scientific analyses produced by complex and integrated computer models.”

The Decision Theater will be used in several targeted research areas, including

  • Enabling policy makers, business leaders and government officials to explore the outcomes of possible scenarios of urban development, such as water availability, urban heating, land-use patterns, transportation networks, air quality and homeland security.
  • As a forum where decision makers and scientists meet to discuss and explore integrated environmental, economic and social challenges to arrive at optimal decisions through the use of models and dialogue.
  • In simulation games, or “what if” scenarios, to model and visualize otherwise unimaginable outcomes of the many factors that affect our society and possible “breaking points” of our critical infrastructure. For example, ASU researchers will be able to simulate metropolitan Phoenix in the year 2040, when it is expected to include a population of 7 million people, by inputting the known and expected growth patterns and associated demands for water and other natural resources.

Decision Theater will be a key tool to be used by researchers who are part of the Decision Center for a Desert City, a recently funded $6.9 million National Science Foundation center at ASU. Decision Theater is located in the Brickyard complex in downtown Tempe.

Decision Theater concept artAt the core of Decision Theater is the “drum,” a theater area for up to 20 people, a significant advance in three-dimensional immersive environments, which are usually limited in the number of participants. In the Decision Theater, groups of people can experience the simulations in the drum and then use the analysis toward more informed decision making.

The Decision Theater employs seven digital-image projectors to beam stereo images onto seven high-definition screens to achieve the 260-degree image surround. Hardware design and system set up is provided by Fakespace Systems Inc. of Marshalltown, Iowa , a leader in virtual reality and immersive environments.

“ASU will have one of the highest-performing and most state-of-the-art virtual reality systems in existence today,” says Chris Clover, president and chief executive officer of Fakespace Systems Inc. “The ASU system will have the largest number of stereoscopic imaging channels, with advanced high-resolution and high-brightness projectors with more than 10 million pixels (seven channels at 1400x1050 resolution and more than 7,000 lumens of brightness each) to be installed and integrated in the virtual reality field.

“What also makes the ASU system unique is its use of advanced PCI Express video graphics technology from NVIDIA Inc., into a seven-node PC cluster. This will be one of the earliest systems to make use of this technology, especially in a multichannel virtual reality system. Fakespace is proud to be a key partner in deploying this system.”

Anshuman Razdan, director of research and technology at the Decision Theater, says a key capability of the facility is its ability to incorporate and integrate complex multidimensional data from a variety of sources, such as numeric and spatial data, into models and simulations for display in an immersive environment.

“With this data fusion, we can take data from different sources, which oftentimes are gathered and presented in specific and varying ways, and integrate them to provide a complete picture of the scenario we are monitoring or simulating,” Razdan says.

Initial funding for the Decision Theater came from Ira A. Fulton ($3 million) and ASU ($3 million). Shangraw says they are looking into additional individual and corporate sponsors for the facility with the overall goal for it to become self-sufficient in a couple of years.

Decision Theater researchers already have begun one project with the East Valley Water Forum, a regional cooperative of city planning managers in the eastern suburbs of Phoenix. This group is developing data-driven scenarios for ground water policy issues under a variety of drought scenarios. These scenarios will allow decision makers to investigate options and potential impacts of coordinated water management plans. Their work will assist them in reaching informed planning decisions as the eastern portion of Maricopa County continues its explosive growth.

Shangraw says officials at Decision Theater also are in discussions with federal agencies on additional uses.

“This powerful tool will be an important element to any public policy researcher or agency that needs to project the impact of their decisions into the future,” Shangraw says. “The Decision Theater will help those people understand the full extent of their policy decisions and help provide scientifically based informed analysis that has never been available before in this type of forum.”

   

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