September 28, 2015

Lackluster 3D

In a previous post , I took time to translate many of the powerful creative thoughts of Clyde DeSouza into the context of the educational stereo 3D (eS3D). In this post, I am going to take a look at DeSouza's theories from his book, Think in 3Dand attempt to answer the question: “Why is some eS3D content so darn lackluster?”

Why some 3D content is lackluster
It’s too flat. In  DeSouza proposes that [when viewing 3D] “the screen really is a stage for all purposes. It is no longer a flat wall.” DeSouza accurately understands that, whenever 3D educational content is so close in appearance to flat movies, it loses its appeal. Think about what he is saying. Why would schools pay for the extra costs of 3D if they are only a little bit better than a 2D classroom video? It’s so obvious! So, too, in classroom 3D. In education, depth ‘rules’ and flat ‘drools’. (Please excuse my use of middle school vernacular).

It’s too subtle. DeSouza believes that is a mistake to assume that "subtle 3D is good 3D." He warns that “subtle 3D at all times  creates safe – [and] boring 3D." I agree. Anyone who knows educations is well aware that ‘boring’ ushers in an“irreversible kiss of death."

It moves too fast. DeSouza postulates a new “golden rule for 3D”: cause no harm to audiences. One of the main ways 3D can upset younger children is fast or swirling action. According to DeSouza, “the familiar montage like style , made up of rapid cuts, frequently changing camera angles, or fast camera motion that is normally used to convey anticipation, excitement, or other emotions into 2D movies” just doesn’t work in 3D film. I can say the same for the classroom. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I am so worried about vanilla conversions of existing 2D educational content into 3D content. How are they going to deal with these issues? The classroom is different than the movie theater or entertainment ride.

3D content development still has a long way to go. Some companies—like zSpace, CubeWiz3D, and Sensavis—are leading the way. Hardware and software companies alike would be wise to pick up DeSouza's book, connect with his ideas, and start to really think in 3D.

September 21, 2015

Kill the 3D Zombies!

Whacking the Perennial Zombies
Some pesky vision health zombies just won’t die. I place these unwanted zombies into two categories: lessons we have forgotten or somehow unlearned; and lessons not yet learned.

Forgotten Lessons. At all major conferences, I see the same thing. Many exhibitors still don’t know how to show stereo 3D, auto-stereoscopic 3D, or 4K without causing nausea or discomfort. I have a higher tolerance than most, yet many 4K and 3D displays in exhibit halls are upsetting to watch. Have we forgotten? Just because the technology moves to mobile, auto-stereoscopic, virtual reality goggles, 4K or UHD display and beyond doesn’t mean vision issues just ‘disappear’. Would we rather have passersby wince and hurry away—or stop, savor, and inquire? That’s the bottom line. It’s all about the content, plainly. Showing furious rollercoaster rides, wild river rapid trips, or spiraling, head-turning motion is simply crazy. That sort of content conveys a hidden biological message to educators that the technology is somehow not ready for prime time. On the other hand, LG, Christie, zSpace, AVRover, DesignMate, Cyber-Anatomy, CubeDigico, and several other hardware/content manufacturers really know what they are doing. They push their video content out to passersby in a slower “savoring” mode, which is particularly appealing to the educational customer. 

Lessons Not Yet Learned. Over the last year, I have met with many of the innovators bringing new products, displays, and solutions to the ed market. My experience thus far is that they are largely unaware of the seminal AOA work found in See Well, Learn Well. Manufacturers cannot expect success if they are oblivious to vision health issues. And most innovators new to the 3D scene don’t have a satisfactory answer to the educator or consumer with the concern that “this gives me headaches” or “will this hurt my children?” (The common responses are dismissive: “don’t let those children use the technology”; or “there is no problem at all.”)

Just because 3D virtual reality headgear is cool, or auto-stereoscopic 3D content is eye-popping, that doesn’t make it impervious to what we know about the vision challenges of viewers.  The vision issue didn’t just go away with the advent of the next big technology. The takeaway here is that these companies will never sell 3D or other advanced display technologies well unless they also handle this vision health issue soundly.

September 14, 2015

3D Vision Health (1)

Several times a year I provide an update for our readers on 3D vision health issues. The pervasive myth that 3D is somehow bad for us, and our children, is a stubborn one. For that reason, we need constant reminders and fresh talking points. The release of the American Optometric Association’s seminal report on 3D vision health, See Well, Learn Well, went a long way to dispel some of these myths, but the misinformation challenge still persists. Here are some interesting developments:

NJIT Continues Research
There’s good information coming out of the New Jersey Institute of Technology these days. I am seeing interesting NJIT research, published dissertations, and experimental work focusing on using 3D in both diagnosis and treatment of visual disorders. NJIT seems to be a hotbed of enlightenment in this arena. See this link to learn more.

Right in Front of Our Eyes

Last winter, the graduate students of the University of Washington-Bothell developed their own child vision health project, through a full-day symposium entitled: “How Undetected Vision Issues Impact Student Learning.” This is an interesting project, one that suggests that 30% of certain low-income children groups experience vision health issues. Of course, modern 3D technologies sit at the nexus of diagnosis and treatment of the often hard-to-find vision challenges of children. And vision health is a strong determiner of successful learning. 

September 7, 2015

More 3D Resources

Here are some additional rendered or stereo 3D resources that are garnering attention (see posting from two weeks ago on 3D apps):

  • Mars 3D.  A NASA website from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology, this features a gallery with dozens of images of Mars, which students can view with 3D glasses. If students don’t have 3D glasses, NASA provides directions and a PDF template for making your own 3D glasses at home or at school.
  • The Largest Rodent in the World (in 3D). Here’s a short (5 minutes) 3D video by Helio A. G. Souza (Stereo 3D Filmaker; Professor and Researcher at UFMS / Stereoscopy, 3D Documentary, Brazil), featuring the infamous Capybara. It's on youtube at and can be viewed in 3D only using Internet Explorer or Firefox. A co-production of Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul Brazil and the Hochschule für Gestaltüng in Karlsruhe, Germany.