Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We be 3D at City In the Trees?

I mistyped the heading; I very nearly referred to my blog as something like "Coitus In the Trees". Sounds like fun, though, doesn't it? :)

In any case, in a recent posting about the construction at Sixteen Mile Creek, I mentioned that I thought it might be of interest someday for people to see what the bridge looked like, and that at least I could show them in colour. Jokingly, I lamented that 3D wasn't really an option yet.

But I started wondering about that this morning. I remember reading about things like sync systems for paired digital cameras a couple of years ago. Seemed cumbersome and impractical to me, but the idea intrigued me enough to take another look.

It turns out that some place in Asia has adapted an old idea to a new use. They've created something called 3D Lens-In-Cap. It connects directly to the body of the camera and features a beam splitter, which I understand is an old-fashioned way of generating 3D images from way back in the 19th century. The idea here is that two different elements about three or four inches apart (roughly the distance between human eyes) each provide half an image, side by side on a single exposure. In other words, instead of a single landscape image, you get two nearly identical portrait-oriented images, each occupying half the overall image. Now, of course, these are still just flat images, but between them they represent all the information needed to composite a three dimensional view. (Cross your eyes and look at this... really something.)

I imagine we're still some years yet from being able to just shoot a 3D image (though supposedly Adobe has just introduced a new method for doing so, and a rather cunning one at first blush), and we're probably a ways yet from being able to project something in three dimensions easily. But this, at least, represents the ability of recording the information now, and keeping it for when that technology exists and makes the use of it more practical. I'm thinking things like, what if I could show someone 50 years from now what Lions Valley Park looked like in three dimensions in 2007, when a whole different bridge was there? What if I could show them what places that haven't been built up yet once looked like as you walked or drove through them? What about cityscapes in Toronto that will slowly disappear as the years ago by? And all in colour. The idea really excites me.

The thing is available for the camera body I have, the Canon Rebel XT 350D (among many others), from a place in Nevada. They're asking what seems to me a very reasonable $112.50 for it. And given that the Canadian dollar is effectively at par with the US dollar (as I write this, ours is actually worth a few cents more, actually), this would seem like pretty much the ideal moment, too.

I'm really thinking about it.


Ah, screw it. Found it on eBay for about $100 US. Let's do it. :)


Well, been to the post office, got the money order, sent it off. I mention it here because I want to record that this was the first time in my life that I paid for something in US funds for which it cost me less in Canadian. :)

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