HCI blog

Friday, December 03, 2004

Seeing is not believing

The Quality of entertainment available in the form of cinema has evolved ever since created. We have come a long way from the days of silent black and white films. Many revolutions have taken place in this technology, the most obvious being; television, surround sound, DVD, wide screen and plasma screen. The latest form of cinema entertainment is available in the form of I-max

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the I-max theatre at millenium point. IMAX 3D technology is the most advanced 3D film technology in the world and is based on human vision. When you look at an object, each of your eyes sees a slightly different view. Through a process called "stereopsis" your brain brings the two views together into a single three dimensional image. To enable the 3D effect, polarized glasses worn by the audience are precisely matched with the polarizing filters of the projector's twin lenses. While the lenses superimpose separate left and right eye views onto the screen, the glasses make sure that each eye sees the appropriate image, allowing your brain to create a single 3D image. Alternatively Electronic glasses can be used. To complete the effect of the IMAX digital surround sound system, the huge IMAX flat screens and dome screens are perforated with thousands of tiny holes to allow the crystal clear sound to flow through freely.

The trend in which cinema technology is progressing in is to improve the quality of both the picture and sound so that the overall cinema experience becomes more believable. Looking back, cinema has always been improving. So what’s next?

Thinking on the lines of making cinema more believable, what if the images seen on the flat screens could be produced in mid-air? Holography is a technology that is still in its primitive years. However, I believe that this could be the new break through in reality cinema.

Holography is three-dimensional laser photography. The hologram is a true, three-dimensional record of the original object. It contains depth and parallax, which is the ability to see around the object to objects placed behind. Holograms are made with a laser, lenses, mirrors and other optics. To make a hologram, the laser beam is split into two beams. One part of the laser beam is directed by mirrors and spread by lenses to illuminate the object. The laser lights the object, then bounces off and hits the holographic film or plate positioned in front of the object. If the number of laser projectors is increased then a true 3D image will be produced in mid air. It would seem as if you could reach out and touch it. Now suppose, an entire Hollywood action movie was created in holographic form, and this technology was available at a domestic scale. It would seem as if you were actually in the middle of the movie your self. Films such as Jurassic Park would be viewed at a whole different level. However, there are obvious draw backs, the holographic movie could only be viewed properly in a dark room and laser projectors would have to be positioned accurately in order to produce the correct image.

Day by day we getting ever closer to making our dreams into reality, it should be remembered that there is no movie more interesting than real life; holography is just the next best thing.

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