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Stereo—can we get real?

Posted: 01.19.10

The movie industry commonly called “Hollywood’ is famous for stereotypes, mislabeling, and misrepresenting. In some sense you could say that’s their business model—to create an illusion, to misdirect. Just the term Hollywood is misdirection as the Canadians, French, Indians, and Nigerians will attest. Those countries produce an amazing amount of movies and some amazing content and yet they are grouped under the banner of Hollywood.

The same thing is true with regard to the trick of creating the impression of depth on a flat two-dimensional surface known as a movie screen. The movie industry and specifically Hollywood in this case wants to call that stereopsis effect, “3D.” They (the Hollywood moguls and their marketing departments) have invested in that nomenclature and we won’t be able to change them. The term “stereo” can’t be used, it’s too similar to dual channel sound. And the whole word stereovision can’t be used because it’s too long—3D is quick, snappy, different, and terribly wrong. But it will be used, and it may leak into usage for stereopsis TV viewing as well.

I must protest. Stereovision is not 3D. 3D is a Cartesian three-dimensional geometric representation of data—a model. It is genuine, specific, and original. Stereovision is a manipulation of 2D images. Stereovision has no real dimensional value (although some of the new sensors can provide a bit).

I like the name Neil Schneider came up with (www.mtbs3d.com) of stereo­3D or “S3D,” to distinguish and differentiate stereovision. And so that is the nomenclature we at JPR are adopting when referring to stereovision. We may (probably will) use 3DTV when referring to that platform because it carries with it a definition of information delivery.

So, computer games being viewed with Nvidia’s “3D Vision,” or with IZ3D’s monitor will be referred to as S3D games, and associated equipment such as glasses and screens will be S3D devices.

Is this being pedantic or nitpicking? Maybe a bit, the problem is when someone says 3D to me, if the context is not obvious I always have to ask, do you mean stereo or are you talking about a 3D model.

Stereo glasses

Have you ever driven a car for more than three or four hours while wearing sunglasses?

Have you ever heard some pundit or webzine writer say, “People won’t wear glasses?”

Do you see any incongruity in those two positions?

I fail to understand the notion that people don’t want to wear stereo glasses. And when I ask people who express such a position, why not? They tell me—100% of the time, “they look goofy.” Then I ask, are you watching the movie, game, or TV show, or are you watching the people watching the movie, game or TV show? Look goofy? Have you looked at how you’re dressed?

After I win that argument, they say, some people can’t see stereo and so they won’t wear the glasses. “Some people.” That’s like, some folks say … sure, there are some people who can differentiate stereovision, just like there are some people who are color blind. But they represent less than five percent of the population. Hardly a market killer.

When I win that argument, they make it personal and say, “I get a headache after fifteen or twenty minutes.” I’m thinking, you’re giving me one right now. So then I ask, did you see Polar Express or Avatar, or any stereo movie in the last year? And they always say yes. And then I ask, did you get a headache? And they say, grudgingly, well no, but…

So it’s not a logical, or scientific argument, but rather one of hearsay and emotion, which of course you can never win, so I say, too bad for you Mr. monovision, there’ll be no depth in your entertainment—by the way—do you ever wear earphones … ?

Launch

And while we discussing definitions, I’d also like to get a definition for the term, “launch.” As I see it there are several types:

  1. PowerPoint launch—no product, no schedule, limited specs, no price, lots of TAM data.
  2. Soft launch—first general specs released, suggested delivery date (SR) SR=subject to revision.
  3. Product launch—the product is fully spec’ed, has a model number, has a suggested price (SR), and a scheduled shipment date (SR).
  4. Development product launch—beta version sent to software developers.
  5. Product sampled launch—first limited production run parts sent to partners and OEMs for testing.
  6. Hard launch—product announced and actually available in the channel with published specifications and prices (SR).
  7. Product re-launched—bugs fixed, parts or software updated, shipping soon. Sometimes called re-branding.

If it was possible to remember all this think how much more efficient our communications would be. “How’s it going Sam?” “Pretty good—we’re at four.” “Hey did you hear Jamit Tech just hit six.”